Signs of Identity (Virtual)

Signs of Identity: Group Exercise (Virtual)


This is an interactive exercise where individuals learn about their values and preferences, and have an opportunity to evaluate themselves within community. The more honest people are, the more each participant will get out of this exercise.


For an effective exercise invite at least 8 participants. It takes about 1 hour for the whole exercise. Because of the breakout room feature, Zoom is the recommended platform for virtual use. Make a copy of this slideshow and edit the slides to best fit your context.


  • Race / Ethnicty
  • Gender
  • Family
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Work
  • Education
  • Sexuality
  • Friendships
  • Health
Depending on your context, consider adding: age, citizenship/immigration status


Norms & Logistics (5 – 7 minutes) Exercise (30 minutes) Debrief (25 minutes)


Explain Norms (explain the importance of):
  1. Contemplative silence
  2. Confidentiality
  3. Respect
  4. Honesty/Openness
  5. Active Listening
Explain Logistics: Show the 3rd slide in the presentation that has just the grid of categories. Allow a brief time for the participants to read the categories. Explain that you will read a statement and ask each participant to choose one category that relates to the statement they heard as they consider what is most true for that person at this moment; what is true today. Encourage the group to make observations after each statement. Remind them to look at each category, stop and pause, and reflect on what each one is feeling and thinking. Awareness of themselves is important. They will then annotate their name in the box of their chosen category. Have participants test this out before you begin. *Note: To annotate: Click view options, choose a font size and color that’s eligible, click the spot you want your name to be, and type in your name. If a participant is unable to annotate, have them type their chosen category in the chat. Once participants have picked a category and annotated their names, you will ask each person to again silently observe, paying attention to their thoughts and feelings. At times you will also ask them to interact with a partner by sending them into breakout rooms. When interacting as partners, one participant will have two minutes to share why they chose that category and then they will switch and the other partner will have a chance to share. *Note: It is recommended to have an additional facilitator to help with the slideshow and breakout rooms. For the statements that will invite interaction between participants, a facilitator should manually pair and assign participants into breakout rooms as soon as they begin choosing categories. Pair people within the same category. If there is an odd number of people within a category, form a group of three. If there is only one person that chose a category, pair them up with someone else in another category. Set the breakout room time to close after 4 minutes and give them a brief countdown (30 seconds or less). You can also remind participants to switch after two minutes by broadcasting a message. If you need more help with managing breakout rooms, see Zoom’s instructions. Continue to move the group along by clearing the screen (which removes all annotations) and presenting the next statement. You are almost ready to begin. Ask if anyone has any questions. After that it is time to start.


Statements: Note: statements with an * will be interactive. 
  1. This has recently brought satisfaction in my life.
  2. I’ve had to think about this aspect of my life the least.
  3. *I’ve had to think about this aspect of my life the most.
  4.  This is the first thing people recognize about me.
  5. This is the area I am most thankful for.
  6. I am most comfortable/secure in this area.
  7. I am most uncomfortable/insecure in this area.
  8. *This has caused me the greatest pain in life.
  9. I have learned one of the greatest lessons in life because of this.
  10. My family valued this the most.
  11. *My family valued this the least.
  12. This brings the most enjoyment to my life.
  13. *I’ve seen the biggest amount of growth in this area in my life this year.
  14. This is the place I’m doing a lot searching or questioning.
  15. This is the place I feel most misunderstood.
During the exercise remind your group to:
  • Encourage them to observe; look at all the categories; be aware of what they are feeling throughout the exercise; ask them to be silent even as they are muted.
  • Give 4 minutes per ‘X’ during sharing time; roughly 2 minutes per person. Remember to remind people to switch who is sharing after about 2 minutes or so.


Stop the presentation and help the group relax and breathe, pause and reflect. Let them know that you are going to debrief their experience.

Suggested Debrief Questions
Pick at least three questions to discuss as a large group. The questions with the * have been found to be effective debrief questions.

  • *How was this exercise for you?
  • *How did you feel throughout the exercise?
  • What are your observations about yourself?
  • What are your observations about others?
  • What surprised you the most?
  • What did you like?
  • What didn’t you like?
  • Would you have done anything different?
  • *What did you learn about yourself through this exercise?
  • What are you feeling now?

Important Note

This exercise was designed to use in groups that have some level of safety and/or trust. If using this exercise in an environment where that’s not necessarily true, consider making modifications.
  • Be aware of the power of good facilitation. Choose someone who can set the exercise up with care, who is able to “read the room” and even skip questions that feel like they’re too intense.
  • Make it clear from the outset the kinds of questions and topics that are going to come up; forecast that people may feel exposed, but no one has to provide any more information than they’re comfortable sharing. They could choose a category that isn’t the one that feels most true to them, but is most true with the level of risk they’re willing to take in the group, or they could opt not to answer.
  • Remove some of the categories or questions that feel the most sensitive. It is unlikely you will be able to complete all 15 statements within the suggested time frame online. Choose half of these statements, including 2-3 interactive ones.
  • Because people tend to need time to process their level of safety, they may not recognize they don’t feel safe until a few questions in. Consider having the facilitator reiterate throughout the exercise that no one needs to share beyond what feels ok for them.