The easiest way of starting the session is simply to ask participants to introduce themselves (Ok, you can just start session even without that). Standard, simple, quick. For sure will work in some environments, but what if you are looking for more, without going too far? The answer is: Presenting in pairs.
This activity is quite easy, but requires some equipment. I had a chance of using it with flipchart or with SMART interactive whiteboard. The very standard version is to split up into pairs and have them introduce each other. 10-15 minutes to prepare should be enough. What they should talk about? Career, hobbies – as usual. Unless you want/need something else.
If using flip-charts – it can be just a text, or some graphics, or tag cloud, or… you can’t even imagine what people can do with a paper and a pen!
If using whiteboards – try to find out before assigning the task, who has some experience with it, who has none and or let them discover the interactive solution (but keep the time limit!). Results can be above your imagination (and expectations).
What are the risks of this activity? Well, some people don’t like leaving their comfort zone. But remember: you are the trainer/coach and you know what is good for them 😉