Exercise: Short walk to freedom.

This exercise is gaining in popularity. I designed it in a moment of need in the middle of a presentation skills workshop for managers in Mozambique. The guy just could not understand the difference between how he usually is around the workplace and how he should show up when he is required to speak in front of others. The idea of walking himself free from the constraints of an everyday work self into a performative, yet authentic confident self worked like magic. And of course, we all want to identify wit  the wonderfully present  Nelson Mandela and his Long Walk to Freedom –  but without the struggle.

Possible outcomes:

  • Presence and awareness
  • Personal control
  • Building confidence and connection
  • Emotional intelligence


Participants walk from one end of the room to the other starting in a state of non-presence and ending in a state of total confidence and present awareness.

Time: 3-7 min
Number of participants: Limited only by the size of the room.

Game flow:

Delegates line up on one side of the room. Facilitator asks them to think of a moment where they felt utterly out of place, intimidated or nervous to enter a room. Facilitator explains: This is your point of entry, where you will be starting from psychologically. (As facilitator you may also use how they are feeling about the session or any other emergent feeling that you may want to work with in this way.) Facilitator continues:

Show how you feel in your body: your spine, your hands, your knees, your breathing, the cast of your eyes, your shoulders, your face, the tilt of your head etc. As you walk to the other side of the room, discard each of these physical attributes one by one and with them the feelings: lift your head, smile, deepen your breathing, straiten your spine, relax your hands, lift your eyes, open your shoulders etc.

Repeat the exercise adding a sound or words starting with something like ‘oooh’ and ending with ‘wha’ or starting with the word ‘no’ and ending with a ‘yes’. Or just let them be creative.

Repeat with different scenarios in mind.

Debrief questions:

  • How was that for you?
  • What was interesting?
  • What was difficult / easy?
  • How does it relate to the ideas of presence, or courage or confidence?
  • How does it relate to the workplace?
  • Where can you use it?
  • Why is it called the short walk to freedom?

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