Throughout what feels like the past few hundred Zoom calls I’ve been able to facilitate over these past two years, I’ve found some great check in questions that are conscientious, yet deep enough to work well with any group. Here are five of my favourite!

  1. Tell me something about your name. This prompt is really good because it gives agency to the participant. They can share something intensely deep about their name’s meaning, or they can simply share whether they like or dislike their name. There’s a lot of flexibility with this question. It’s also great for first meetings because it offers an anchor for folks to remember each other’s names better.
  2. What struggles, joys, and/or questions are you bringing with you today? In my experience, this question allows groups to open up more and get used to sharing their thoughts and feelings. This is super helpful for groups that are discussion centered, such as Bible studies. It builds community, and helps us know what’s going on in other people’s lives. It can be a heavy question leading to folks sharing hard experiences, so be prepared for this and realize what atmosphere you’re creating when you ask this question.
  3. Pick an object in the room that you’re in, and describe it to us. If you like, you can also share a memory you have with it. The reason I love this prompt is because it touches on my anthropology/archaeology education. You can learn a lot about someone’s life just by looking at their place of living. These items help give insight into what people in your group are into: what art they like, what hobbies they have, and maybe some significant memories.
  4. What is one of your favourite articles of clothing? Why? How does it make you feel/what memories do you have associated with it? This question is light and can also be more creative on Zoom where folks can grab and show their favourite garment to others. It also gives more insight into people that would be available irl but not online.
  5. Let’s take a moment to drop into our body. What sensations are you noticing? Are your hands cold? What do you smell? Can you still taste what you had for lunch? I grabbed this one from therapy. Share what sensations you’re noticing in your body, and inviting others to do the same is a way to transcend our screens and share physical space. If you want to make it even more body focussed and calming, invite folks to take a collective deep breath before acknowledging how our bodies are feeling.

My last piece of advice- I’ve noticed that with check in questions, it’s better to get folks to tag the next person, as opposed to doing it popcorn style. Unless you’re the type of facilitator who enjoys watching your participants squirm, then I suggest you do popcorn style and watch the awkward silences and stares commence. I’ll pray for you.

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