Let me hear you CHIRP

In your Zoom rooms, how do you break the ice?

In my classrooms, we are about to start what I call our CHIRP presentations. As the name suggests, I ask my students to introduce themselves and maybe even chirp a little bit about their accomplishments.

CHIRP stands for:

  • C: Career
  • H: Hobbies
  • I: Institution
  • R: Relatives
  • P: Personal

(that’s for my grad students. For my undergrads, I change “H” to “High School” and “I” to mean “Interests”)

Added to this, I ask my students to follow the pecha kucha method of presentation, meaning that they use exactly 20 slides, timed to last 20 seconds each. This means that each presentation will last exactly six minutes and 40 seconds. This can be adapted… change the number of slides or the length of each slide, as it suits your needs.

This approach proved to be a necessary one. When asked to introduce themselves, some students, it seemed, would come to the front of the room and be back in their seats in the blink of an eye. Others, I’d have to pull off of the stage or else I wouldn’t have time for the rest of the class material.

We use CHIRPs both face-to-face and in our Zoom meetings. This has been a great addition to the classroom, and maybe it can help as an ice-breaker for other group settings that you might experience. I’ve learned a few important lessons through our CHIRP presentations that can apply even outside the classroom:

  1. Make it clear what participants are expected to include in their CHIRP (more on that tomorrow)
  2. Have an early due date or else people might just put this off, creating a stressful situation out of what should be an enjoyable exercise
  3. With 1 and 2 in mind, allow speakers to update their presentations leading up to the actual date of their CHIRP presentation
  4. Take note of how many people share hobbies, work experiences, even their parents’ home towns… that’s really the point of this whole “introduce  yourself” concept!
  5. Thank the participant for sharing… this exercise knocks some folks out of their comfort zones but in a structured, low-risk way. After all, nobody knows more about their story than they do!

What do you think?

More about our CHIRPS tomorrow!