Hidden Agenda

Hidden Agenda

Everyone has an agenda. But, a hidden one is another story. This icebreaker makes a good point : "don't have a hidden agenda". And if you do decide to hide your "agenda" well, then, reveal it, and make people smile. This one always gets an eyebrow rising, followed by a warm smile. Add this to your agenda today, and connect with people. Coolfidence style.

Guide lines
Ready, Steady, Go!

When you meet with an old or new customer, or a friend you have not spoken to in a while, then often the ice needs to be broken and communications re-established. An intriguing way to start a conversation is to say that you are an open book, or that you have nothing to hide. The storytelling possibilities are endless. Every one of us has that classic tale, that one story of how things would have been much better if the facts were on the table to begin with. Even if it is a completely made-up story.

Use this short story to start a conversation and get them listening. With a person one on one, or with a small group – anyone that you’re connecting with. For example:


You know, I am a shy person. I used to work on the 3rd floor for 2 years since I joined the company. I always felt like something was wrong. I wish they told me earlier that my desk was on the 5th floor :-)

Lend me your ears

Now, that you got their full attention, you can start talking about the two of you … For example:


I like to keep things open and honest. Do you believe in disclosure? Hang on – that is a big word. Do you have anything you want to put on the table. I hope you don’t have one of these …

Some extra lines you can try (to build the intrigue even more)

  • When you were younger did you ever play hide the agenda and seek?
  • Have you ever seen an agenda that is so neat and well laid out?
Seal the Deal and Reveal

You reach to where you have the “hidden AGENDA” and place it face down in the palm of your hand.


Here is mine. I hope yours is going to be out in the open too.

Take a few moments to reveal the surprise. Then, slowly turn it over and look the person/s in the eye. It may take them a moment to get this as it’s quite lateral.


Here, my agenda is now out in the open. It is not hidden any more. It was in my pocket the entire time, but now it is here for everyone to see. So, do you have a hidden agenda? Because I’ve shown you mine.

Some extra lines you can try (to better make the point)

  • May this be the last hidden agenda we ever see.
  • This agenda is coming out of hiding. It has been on the run for way too long.

Pick up the AGENDA and show it around.


Life is always better when things are honest and open. So, no hidden agendas please.
As the old saying goes: Honesty is always the best policy.

Some other lines you can try (if you feel like they still hide something from you)

  • Has anyone ever passed you an agenda before … no? Then go ahead, take it. This agenda is now yours to hide.
  • To hide an agenda is a very interesting challenge. Where would you hide yours?
  • May I hide my agenda in your pocket for a while. Just for safekeeping. You don’t want your agenda falling into the wrong hands.
  • Imagine that – now it is ok to have a hidden agenda.
  • I’ve shown you mine, now show me yours.
Alternative ending

If you want to lighten the mood, or make a devious point in a meeting or negotiation, slip the hidden agenda into someone’s jacket pocket and ask them what they have in their pocket, or simply pretend that you just pulled it from their pocket or laptop bag. And then you ask: “What’s this? I didn’t know you had a hidden agenda …”

Anticipated responses and retorts

Do you really have a hidden agenda?

Not anymore.

What else are you hiding?

That is for tomorrow’s agenda.

How do I know what your agenda really is?

My agenda is to make you smile … see, it is working already.
Good follow ups
When & where
When to use it
  • When you want to get someone to feel comfortable. This is good for putting people at ease and making them feel they can talk to you.
  • This is a good one-on-one tool for when you are leading someone in the office. Especially in a mentoring capacity.
  • A very good device to use in a business setting where you want to break the ice and set a warm tone.
  • This is very good for lateral thinking junkies – it gets people thinking out of the box.
Where to use it
  • office
  • internal team meetings
  • with anyone you are getting to know in a business context
  • mentoring sessions
  • with new staff
  • with friends
Getting ready
Items required
  • a computer and a printer to make the prop
  • have the piece of paper or the laminated strip with the AGENDA on it in your jacket pocket or in your wallet.
  • when you pull it out place it upside down so as to keep the AGENDA hidden until you ready to reveal it.
  • you could laminate the strip of paper – this is always a good thing to do – looks very slick then.
Training required
  • Keep the AGENDA out of sight and when bringing it out keep it upside down so as to keep it hidden.
  • A good moment for this is when someone is unsure of what to say and you get them to relax and show them that everything is out in the open, including your agenda.
Watch out (potential unexpected effects)
  • This is a fantastic tool to get a point across.
  • Don’t do this when you are in legal trouble. That is probably not the best time to say that you have a hidden agenda.
  • This is a real lateral thinking work play. It will go down great with book worms.

type type

Do It Yourself (DIY)

material material

a piece of paper – lamination works well

size size

small (should fit into your pants or jacket pocket)

durability durability

it is paper – probably not good to put it in a washing machine when you wash your clothes – go for the laminated option

source source

Bill’s mom told him for years not to have a hidden agenda

time to impact time to impact

pretty much there and then

size of audience size of audience

this is best as a one-on-one tool

possible health risk possible health risk

don’t do this to police and security officials – they won’t appreciate it

reusable how many times you can use it

multiple times

training needed training needed


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this will break the ice!

This is classic :)