Introductory Exercise for Mentoring Workshop

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to act as a keynote speaker or workshop leader for organizations that want to start or improve their mentoring program and services. I typically like to start my session with an interactive activity that can generate audience reactions and interest in the topic as well as be an opportunity to have fun.

I designed a “Famous Mentor Pairs Quiz” that I would initiate just prior to me being introduced as the speaker or leader for the session. Initially, I just used a slide projector to show a series of slides that started by showing a well-known person, followed by a question as to whether anyone in the group could name that person. That slide was followed by a slide of another person (also typically well-known) and accompanied by the same question: “Can you name this person?” Once the two people were shown and the audience guessed the names (or wondered who they were), another slide would appear which said participants would get one point for guessing which one was the mentor and one point for guessing which one was the person being mentored.

The slide carousel would automatically move on to the next pairing (it was set to a timer). Mostly, the process would go on in the background while participants were getting settled in, finding their seats, and chatting with each other. The idea was to attract attention, begin the focus on mentoring, and engage the participants in a fun “quiz.”

Eventually, technology allowed me to replace the slide projector with a computer projector, which gave me even greater control via my laptop. I also created a video which is available on YouTube for others to use since many of the people in the audience wanted to use the quiz with their groups. While the YouTube video was fun, it didn’t allow for either updating of the people shown in the video and, more importantly, using mentor pairings that might be more relevant to the people in the audience. For example, I made one quiz of Canadian political figures to use when I worked with government agencies, and I made a different quiz using people from the entertainment industry when I worked with communications groups.

This introductory exercise led to a continuing collection of famous mentor pairings. Peer Resources’ website now has the most comprehensive collection of famous mentor pairings anywhere on the Internet. You have to be a member of the Peer Resources Network to access the pairings, but before any pairing is placed in the database, it is displayed on the Peer Resources’ Twitter timeline.

Here are some examples from the recent entries to the database.






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