Starting a Team Building Session

How we start off a team building session is important. Starting off a team building session on the right note allows participants to “break the ice” with one another, get an idea of what the session is about and ideally get introduced to the main concept of the activities or discussions that follow. Below are some ways you can kick off a team building session or simply to improve your team building skill.

1) Using a short video

Using a short video that represents the concepts that our about to reinforce can capture the attention and imagination of the audience. With the wifi, 3G or even 4G connection, you can easily find interesting clips on YouTube, Youku and Metacafe, you can easily find short video clips on motivation, leadership, team building and even clips on the corporate values of well known corporations. Ideally, the video should not be too long, between 5-10mins or some participants who have had not enough rest might start dozing off.

2) Starting With an Ice Breaker 

Ice breakers or short team building activities are a great way to start off a team building session, meeting or even training. Here are a few short ice breakers you may consider:

a) Make this amount
Get participants to take out their loose change to form specific amounts of money like $2.95 or $3.55 or $0.45. The team with the correct amount should bring the money to a specifc person in the room and you should specify how many correct entries you will be taking. this activity drives home the simple point that “together we can achieve”.

b) Trivial Competition
Interesting facts about interesting or famous people, animals, plants or even insects can get the instant attention of the audience at a meeting. You may also try to start a mini-competition among the teams so the participants’ senses will be heightened and they will be open to concepts that you are trying to reinforce.

i) Colonel Sanders (of KFC fame) held odd jobs like being a steamboat pilot, insurance salesman, railroad fireman, and farmer before starting a restaurant in Kentucky. He started the franchise business after his restaurant failed at the age of 65.

ii) In the animal kingdom, predators that work together like lions, african wild dogs and killer whales have much better success rates at catching preys compared to those that do not. In fact, African wild dogs have a success rate 50% because they take turns to lead the team when chasing prey.

iii) 30 giant hornets can wipe out 30,000 European honey bees and plunder their hive for larvae and honey within a few hours. Japanese honey bees have developed a defense against this by killing the scout of the giant honey bee through team work.

c) Electric Current
You will need a big coin for this activity. Split the participants into 2 teams, get them to join hands and close their eyes with exception of the first person. Tell the participants that the con represents a switch and identify which side is “on” and which is “off”. As you toss the coin, the first team member will decide if the coin is “on” or “off” and if it is on, they will squeeze the hand of their “blind” team member.

The “blind” members will simply pass the current down to the last person can stand up, raise his hand or shout out a slogan loudly. First team with the last member completing that action wins a point. This activity shows that in order for a team to function well, every team member is important. If there is a spot where the “current” cannot pass through, then the action cannot be completed.

Indoor Ice Breaker

3) Engaging the audience in an exercise
The following exercise is called “High & Low”, it is a very interesting exercise that I picked up while attending an NLP course conducted by Brad Greentree of Tad James and Company in Australia (i’m not sure if he or Tad James or neither of them invented this but I did learnt it from them).

Being an NLP course, this activity drives home the point that “your thinking affects your behaviour”. It proves it to them (or at least most of them).

Ask the participants to close their eyes and imagine that  a large helium balloon is tied to their left hand and their right hand is carrying a heavy load. Gradually increase the weight of the heavy load and the size of the helium balloon (or number of balloons). After a while, you will see the left hand of the participants rising up and the right hand of the participants sinking down. This is based on the simple truth that our brain controls our body functions and if we imagine something or believe something enough, our body will act it out as if it is real. Do take note that this activity will work 100% of the time ONLY on participants that will follow your instructions.

4) Telling a Story
People love to hear stories. Good stories, that is, and told in an interesting and meaningful way. Many good team building trainers are excellent story tellers. Good story telling skills come with practice. A good story teller can use a few technique to engage the participants.

Metaphors are stories that help us understand a moral or value in an unintimidating way. A good example is the story of “The Tortoise and The Hare” – tells us that arrogance can be a stumbling block if we are not careful. “Three Little Pigs” help us understand from a young age that it is good to be hardworking. We all know that tortoises and hares do not race one another in real life and pigs don’t build houses but precisely because the characters are not real, our minds are put in a “pretend mode”. In NLP, this is called “suspended disbelieve” it happens all the time when we are watching movies. It is shown that in this mode, our brains are more open to new ideas and concepts. This is the reason why corporations (and sometimes governments) pay huge sums of moneys to get product placements in popular moives.

An interesting case is in “Pirates of Carribean: At World’s End”, Sao Feng (played by Chow Yun-Fat) makes mention of a particular country. Ever wondered why did the director or script writer choose that country out of all the countries in the world? Some speculate that it was a paid endorsement and what a smart way to get the world’s attention (if it was indeed an endorsement)!

We trust this article has given you a few interesting ways of starting your team building session or meeting and engaging your audience in a meaningful way.