Brainstorming ideas for your next big project can be challenging when your assembled think-tank barely know each other. You may have already set the stage with a venue that is conducive to stimulated conversation, but what you need now is an impetus for it to begin. A brief 10-minute warm-up exercise designed for members of the group to interact with each other in a fun way will help start the ball rolling. Below are some examples to choose from.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? Non-intimidating by design, this activity ensures that no one gets left out. Every member is encouraged to let their creativity run wild and contribute ideas to get the assigned task done, while having a great time. Attendees are randomly split into five different groups. Following that, they are given a very interesting task – to design a 20-second team song. The song not only has to include all the names of the team members, but also a description of why they think their team is the best. Each competing team is forced to learn the names of every individual in their group, as they brainstorm to find each other’s strengths. Teams are then asked to perform the song throughout the day, and are awarded points for the most united team. Things start to take a hilarious turn as teams sing, rap, rhyme and dance their way to impress the other teams. Everyone will be thoroughly entertained by the innovation shown in twisting the lyrics of famous pop songs, accompanied by some unrehearsed dance steps. With Team Song, everyone’s voice is heard loud and clear.
SUITABLE VENUE Any venue that can hold noisy events, as this activity can get quite boisterous.
HAS THIS BEEN DONE BEFORE? Yes, PricewaterhouseCoopers Sports Day at Centennial Park, Sydney.
IDEAL GROUP SIZE About 10 to 100 attendees
CONTACT XL Events, www.xlevents.com.au
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? This is a quick-paced game of forfeits, where penalties in the form of tasks are dished out to players who miss a turn. Attendees form one huge circle and do a count-off starting from number one. Whenever the count reaches seven, or a multiple of seven, the participant should shout “kuek kuek” as quickly as possible, instead of the number. The participant who forgets to say “kuek kuek” will have to do a forfeit such as a funny dance.
Adding to the fun factor, attendees are also allowed to suggest forfeits. This is where more vocal participants will start to speak up and contribute creative forfeits. To up the challenge, facilitators can also alter the rules of the activity such as adding another condition that a participant has to shout “kuek kuek” every time the count hits a multiple of three, on top of the existing condition of doing it for multiples of seven, or changing the person who is supposed to do the forfeit. For example, the person standing beside the one who forgets to say “kuek kuek” will have to do the forfeit instead.
This will raise excitement levels as sabotage may come into the picture. For example, when the count reaches a multiple of seven, a participant might intentionally not shout “kuek kuek” because he or she wants the person next to him or her to do the forfeit. With this additional twist, everyone will have a good time as the initial barriers are broken down through laughter.
SUITABLE VENUE A small outdoor area or a meeting room depending on the size of the group.
HAS THIS BEEN DONE BEFORE? Yes, at a Bank Mandiri corporate meeting in Padang Padang Beach, Bali, Indonesia.
IDEAL GROUP SIZE 40 to 100 attendees
CONTACT MICE Journey, www.micejourney.com
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? Going beyond the standard getting-to-know-you routine of learning another’s name and the department that he belongs to, participants have to start a conversation to know each other’s likes and dislikes. This encourages bonding among members of the group. Each person is handed a piece of paper that has a table chart with six rows and columns (depending on the group size). Every box is filled with different one-liners such as “I have never been to Japan” or “I love spicy food”. With a time limit of 20 minutes, participants have to mingle to find out who fits the description in each box, and jot down that person’s name beside it. The challenge is not to repeat the name on the checklist. The person who successfully fills up all the boxes before the time limit will emerge as the winn er, but this is not the point of the activity.
The exercise is ideal for any team-building attempt. By revealing their personal interests, guests will feel more relaxed and ready to speak up during the formal programme.
HAS THIS BEEN DONE before ? Yes, venue information is not available.
IDEAL GROUP SIZE Above 20
CONTACT Tour East Thailand, www.toureast.net/thailand
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? Singing is known to induce joy and One Voice proves just that. This ice-breaker activity leaves participants smiling as they learn to let relax and grow more comfortable with each other, creating team harmony at the end of the activity. To begin, the group is split into pairs or small groups. The facilitator will then lead every guest through a series of enjoyable physical and vocal exercises with silly body movements.
Participants find it hard to keep a straight face as they loosen up with vocal exercises such as “call and response” – where the facilitator calls out and each team has to respond – as well as African chanting. As they become more confident, and energy levels rise, more elements are added to the warm-up exercises, and eventually the whole group ends up singing and dancing to a final song. This is usually a mainstream pop number with its lyrics tweaked to contain the conference’s themes and key messages.
SUITABLE VENUE Indoor or outdoor venue, suitable for pre-conference activity or mid-conference energisers.
HAS THIS BEEN DONE BEFORE? Yes, at the Hewlett-Packard Sales Kick-off 2011 held at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
IDEAL GROUP SIZE More than 12 attendees
CONTACT Team Building Asia, Hong Kong, www.teambuildingasia.com/en
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? This activity effectively kills two birds with one stone in just 15 minutes. Participants give each other a relaxing body massage while having a light-hearted conversation. The activity starts off with the facilitator getting people to form a circle, or if the group is too large, it can be split into two. Then, everyone is instructed to put their hands on the shoulder of the person in front of them and follow instructions. The massage session begins with the facilitator announcing the body part to be handled – the shoulders to the back, the face and even the head. In the background, cheerful music is played to lighten up the atmosphere.
SUITABLE VENUE Hotel ballroom or a garden lawn
HAS THIS BEEN DONE BEFORE? Yes, Henkel AC China Annual Sales Conference 2011 at Sheraton Hangzhou Wetland Park.
IDEAL GROUP SIZE 50 to 100 attendees
CONTACT ZHI Event Company Shanghai, www.zhi-event.com
GROUP KNEE SIT
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? When a seemingly impossible challenge, such as a Group Knee Sit, placed before a group, there is no option but to communicate with one another to accomplish the task. The result is always a good laugh and the build up of teamwork and trust.
The team is asked to stand in a circle facing each other. The facilitator then instructs them to turn either to the left or right, and place their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. On cue, they have to sit back on the knees of the person behind them for five seconds, without letting the circle break down. A lot of buzz will naturally be generated among the participants, with thoughts such as, “How can a small girl like her withstand my weight” or “I am so weak, how can I hold his weight for five seconds”.
Some guests will inevitably fall and the circle will split up, as not everyone will place their weight completely on the next person’s lap. This is when the facilitator explains that by completely sitting down on the next person’s lap, the foundation will be stronger. As the group becomes more confident, they will be asked to do more challenging tasks such as walking three steps forward, while they are still seated on the next person’s lap. Participants are forced to coordinate with one another, as they take small steps as a united team.
This sort of activity usually generates a strong sense of accomplishment when people realise how easy it is to perform when trust is present in a group. Participants come away with insights relevant to an office environment such as that much more can be achieved when trust is placed in colleagues.
SUITABLE VENUE Outdoor venues
such as garden lawns or large meeting rooms, suitable for corporate meetings or incentive programmes.
HAS THIS BEEN DONE BEFORE? Yes, Exxon Mobil “AP ViF fast meeting” and DHL Strategic Meeting at the JW Marriott in Phuket
IDEAL GROUP SIZE 10 to 200 attendees
CONTACT JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, www.marriott.com