Share Your “Go-To” Workshop Activities – Here Are Two to Get You Started

Submitted by Delaney Tosh & Tracy McMicking

At our Coaches Café events this year, we have featured either activities to stimulate thoughtful conversation or presented tools for your coaching toolkits. We can tell that this is valued by the continuing conversations and by the requests we receive to share more workshop activity and coaching tool ideas.

So, here is a blog article that we invite you to participate in. To kick-start this dialogue, we feature two activities that could be used in group workshop settings. Please join the dialogue on this blog using the comments section and share your “go-to” workshop activities that have served you well.

Going forward we will feature your shared workshop activities ideas in upcoming eNews editions and we’ll gather the comments together into one big resource to make available to our members on our website as a download.

Team Building Activity: Your Land – Guided Visualization Exercise

Objective: To have each member of the team form a visualization of their land for the purpose of understanding themselves, their values and their challenges on a deeper level. Each member shares what their land is like and what they learned so that others can gain a greater understanding of them and begin to create common ground.

Participants will need paper and pen to make notes during short breaks during the visualization so they can capture important aspects of their land for later.

The facilitator guides the group to close their eyes and begin to visualize arriving at their land.

Guide the individuals to notice the following: how they arrive (by what mode of transport), how they are greeted or not, what the smell is like, the geography and terrain, what the temperature and weather is like.

Have them make their way from their point of arrival to the central town or city and notice what it is like, taking in the atmosphere, how people are moving around, what the pace is like. Ask them to begin to notice how people are getting along and what the politics are, the policies and the principles that guide the way their land functions.

They walk around their land visiting a variety of areas, like their home, the streets or trails and a market place noticing what it is like, why they like it and why it works so well.

Take a short break after visiting each area for the purpose of making notes.

They also imagine that there is an area in their land that they don’t want to visit and they describe what it is like and why they don’t want to go there.

Then have each member of the group share briefly what their land was like, what stood out for them and what insights the exercise revealed about what is important for them in a well functioning environment.

After each member shared what they wanted to about their land each other member of the team offered what they learned about that person in a positive way and the new insights they had about the person’s ability to contribute.

The facilitator can then open a discussion of what positive outcomes were gained that supports them becoming a more cohesive team.

Workshop or Team Building Activity: “What I Like About Your Idea is…AND…”

Technically this is an ideation exercise – for helping groups create creative ideas. However, it is great for helping teams learn to plan more co–creatively and helps train team members how to avoid the ‘shutting down’ behaviours that can make meetings or planning frustrating. I received the idea for this activity from Vince Gowmon of Remembering to Play and have been using it very successfully since.

You can also use this exercise as a fun workshop opener. It provides a fun way to stimulate creative thinking. In this case you would tailor the de-brief questions towards the purpose of your workshop.

Recommended Group Size: Best with groups under 20 people. However, you could split up larger groups into smaller groups.
Total run time: 10 to 20 minutes depending on size of team and whether you proceed with part 2.

Objective & Instructions:

Put the phrase up for all to see: “What I Like About Your Idea is…AND…”

Provide group with something to plan, something neutral and fun – such as a circus, or a new way of presenting the Academy Awards event.

The goal is to ideate only — not to resolve or plan logistics.

How to Begin:
First person shares an idea. For example, “so, we’re going to host a circus, here is an idea – we could have it at the beach”.
Second person says, “What I like about your idea is…(and say something you like)…AND…(give your idea)”.
Third person continues, “what I like about your idea is…AND…”
Note: it can be suggested that ideas build off of the previous ideas, but it is not wholly necessary.

It is important not to evaluate the idea – just present what you like about it …AND…then add an idea to the previous person’s idea.

Let the activity go around the team enough times so that each person has at least four opportunities to participate – about 5 minutes.

Debrief:

  • What did you notice as you did this activity?
  • When did the team loosen up and come alive?
  • What was the sense of connection? When was this most noticeable?
  • What did you notice when an idea didn’t resonate? What was that like for you?
  • How did you keep the flow of the connection going when you didn’t resonate with an idea? How did that impact the activity overall, impact the team?
  • What skills did you have to call on?
  • What was it like to always look for something positive to acknowledge?
  • When was it hard to be creative? When easy?
  • What kind of adjustments did you personally need to make for the group to be successful with the activity?

Key learning points:

  1. Awareness – of others and of what is possible when you are truly building your awareness of the other and the shared purpose.
  2. Connection
  3. Learning what moves the play forward – this is a new tool to use in team meetings and planning sessions.
  4. Listening – you can’t share what you like about an idea if you are not listening; you can’t look for shared interest towards shaping a common goal when you are not listening.

Part 2:

You either stop here having captured and summarized the key learning points, or you can run through this exercise again, but this time in the context of their work, using a real work example.

Debrief:

  • What did you notice?
  • What was different this time?
  • What were you trusting from the group? From yourself?
  • Where do you notice you stop listening?
  • What do you think is possible if, as a team, you bring the energy and skills you used in this activity into your day to day planning? How would coming to the plan be different?

Key Point to sum up: The purpose of this exercise is to bring your own awareness to how/when you support the connection and energy and flow of the team and how/when you shut it down.

 

Now, using the comments section…please share with us your favourite workshop activities and when and how you use them. Or, share with us other ways you might use the two activities above.