Dear Meeting Guru,

"Do you have any interesting ways to introduce new hires? We have a quarterly department meeting with about 325 people. There are typically a dozen or so new people in each meeting – any ideas?

Oak Brook, IL

Blessed Meeter,

Presenting a few new hires to a large group of individuals is difficult. Fun, ice-breaking games simply don't work because the audience is too large. However, I have four recommendations that aren't terribly exciting, but will certainly add a little zest to your introductions.

Ask the new hires to prepare a limerick about themselves. Long or short, it'll be a lot more fun than a standard "Hi, my name is…" introduction. Let the new hires know that they can bring their limerick on an index card. This way, they won't forget the words if they suffer from stage-fright.

If you're looking for something a little more spontaneous, ask the new hires to answer questions about themselves in front of the group. Giving them sentences to complete often works well and can actually be really funny. You introduce the sentence and they finish it. For example, "My name is…", "I work in… (department)", "If I were an animal, I'd be a… ", "If I were a food, I'd be… ", "If I were a color, I'd be… ". You may be surprised how much you can learn about someone this way!

Your third option is to ask participants to write a "new hires" question as they enter the meeting. Remind the participants that the questions shouldn't be embarrassing or difficult to answer. All of the questions are put in a bowl or hat, passed to the front of the room and randomly drawn. You ask the questions aloud and the new hires answer. If the new hires are shy, this could be a painful experience for them. If the new hires are outgoing, then this activity can be really fun for everyone at the meeting.

Another idea is to simply let them outline their past achievements and particular expertise that led them to the organization. This activity is easy and more comfortable than the others, puts them in a good light and gives them an opportunity to shine in front of the group.

New hires are often good sports and will be enthusiastic about having something interesting to say in front of the group. It's amazing how humor can transform a serious, nerve-wracking situation into a fun exercise for everyone. As the wise philosopher Confucius once said, "Only after it turns winter are we aware of the survival of the Pine and Cypress." In other words, it takes being faced with a difficult situation to realize someone's a survivor. Doing these introductory activities may seem stressful and overly spontaneous for the new hires at first, but when it's all said and done, they may be surprised by how witty and resilient they really can be.

Until next time… may good meeting karma always be with you.



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