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Human Spectrogram

Modified on 2010/04/09 14:25 by Jeremy Stroud Categorized as Uncategorized
A group face to face exercise to help surface similarities and differences in a group, help people to get to know each other and to do something together that is active.


The first web citation found was via Aspiration Tech. Not sure of the deep history of this method.

When to use

  • As an opening exercise (i.e. icebreaker) to help people to get to know each other
  • As a way to get issues open and discussable
  • To interact with both words and with our bodies (to break up too much sitting -based activities.)
  • For helping a group get a sense of the complexity of an issue or problem.

How to use

  • In a large open space put a long piece of tape on the floor. It should be long enough for the full group present to spread itself out over. So for larger groups, longer tape or more room around the tape. For smaller groups, it can be as short as 3-5 meters.
  • Ask everyone to stand up and gather around the tape. Explain that the tape is a continuum between two answers to questions they will be asked. Then kick off with a simple, fun question to demonstrate the method. (I.e. I love chocolate - go to that far end of the tape, I really really don't like chocolate, go to the other end, then everyone else spread themselves along the tape depending on how much they do/don't like chocolate.)
  • (With a microphone if it is a large group) walk up and down the tape and take a sampling response from people as to why they positioned themselves on the tape the way they did. Usually it is good to sample from both ends and somewhere in the middle. If, upon hearing other people's responses, people want to move, encourage them to do so. This is about meaning making, not about an absolute measure of peoples' opinions.
  • Then move on to your "serious" questions. These will vary based on the context. See the following section on developing useful spectrogram questions.
  • As you ask questions, encourage people to notice who is where on the line - this helps people find people in common or who have different views that could be useful discussion starters.
  • Depending on time, use between 3- 7 questions. You can tell it is time to quit when people stop moving and are talking to each other more than participating. This means either they are bored, or they have become deeply engaged with each other. And the latter is a good thing!

Developing Useful Spectrogram Questions

  • Start with questions that are easier to answer and move to more difficult or ambiguous questions. The debrief interviews become more important as the questions become more complex.
  • One format is to have all the questions framed around "agree/disagree."


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