Dumb Questions Exercise: Getting People To Open Up And Ask

Brief Description/Purpose

Use as energizer, icebreaker or even closure exercise to encourage group members to ask questions they have about the content that they are a little uncomfortable asking because they seem "dumb"


Icebreaker, energizer, closing exercise

Age Appropriate

Teens, Adults

Ideal Group Size


Time For Exercise

3-7 minutes

Detailed Instructions If Needed

Introduce the exercise as follows (modify to suit whether used as icebreaker, energizer or closing exercise).

We all have questions about things that we think are dumb, because we figure that everyone else understands what we don't. Usually if one person has a question, others share the same curiousity, which is why there's no such thing as a dumb question.

For Icebreaker

  1. Take a minute to write down what you think is a really dumb question about [content of course] that you'd like answered.
  2. Ask for a volunteer to ask their question. 
  3. Answer or indicate that will be explained later in session.
  4. Repeat, OR, tell group that we'll be returning to your questions periodically during the session (using as icebreaker).

As Energizer

If you used this at the start of the session, periodically go back, and get another volunteer.

If you are using as an energizer, use similar instructions to the use as icebreaker.

For Closure

Use the exercise at the close of the session to entertain questions about the topic that have yet to be answered. A great way to put people at ease with asking something they didn't quite "get".

e.g. As we get closer to finishing, I'm sure you still have some questions about [content] that we haven't yet answered. So, take a minute and write down at least two questions about [content] and we'll see if we can answer them.

Get volunteers, and get group involved in answering.

Also, it's a good idea to ask the participants to submit their anonymous questions to you as they leave, since that will give you a good idea of what to change next time.