The importance of raising energy in a meeting

In January I wrote about icebreakers and their value in setting the scene for an event. Today,  to follow on from this, I will focus on the importance of raising energy in a meeting and how to do it.

Photo by Cathy Mü on Unsplash

What are energisers?

These are exercises, or some form of activity that can be inserted into a workshop or meeting to raise the energy of the group. Coffee can of course serve that purpose, and it works for me in a morning! However, the use of group energisers increases the energy level of the whole group and can inject a sense of fun into any meeting.

When to use energisers?

  • Energisers can be used at the beginning of an activity, or during it when energy is dropping in the room. After lunch is a great time for an energiser.

  • At the beginning of an event an energiser can also work as an icebreaker to create a good environment for the work ahead. For example, if it is a training event encouraging creative thinking, the use an energiser to open up the group and start to develop a creative climate for the event.

  • Mid-way through a project an energiser can be used to re-invigorate the thinking and energy in the group. This can rekindle the enthusiasm and motivation of the group.

  • Longer term projects or programs may warrant more time spent on energizers. This can be at the beginning to create a working climate, and throughout the project when energy is starting to flag. For a lengthy program a longer time can be justified in setting the scene. Here, energisers may be of a different nature.  Outdoor exercises, dance workshops, cookery classes have been examples of energisers I have noted.

    To summarise:

  • Energisers raise energy when it is most needed.

  • Use them to develop a group climate for the success of the event/program.

  • Insert them anywhere into a program or event to reinvigorate it.

  • They may only need a short time to work.

Energising virtual groups

I have offered a couple of  examples of energisers hereHowever we are currently living in a time when group meetings are not encouraged. Therefore it is important to consider how to energise groups who are meeting virtually.

 Many people will be struggling with a loss of energy during these times. Using platforms such as Zoom are good for virtual  meetings however, there is a tendancy to sit rather passively when we are facing a screen. Raising energy at the start of such meetings can make a difference to the climate of the meeting and ensure it is more productive.

So how do you do this?

I hope that these simple guidelines may help.

  • To raise energy people need to be physically active. This is more difficult sitting in front of a screen but not impossible. Ask participants to stretch, to stand, do some gentle exercise before the meeting gets underway properly.

  • To enable everyone to participate, ensure that each person gets a chance to contribute early on. Prepare in advance and ask them to send in or have  something ready to share.

  • For example, ask each person  to send in a photo of themselves as a baby – put these up anonymously and ask participants to decide which one belongs to which participant. You could also use first car, a first pet or favourite song etc.

  • You could ask each person in turn  to state two truths and a lie and ask everyone else  to decide which is the lie.

Use your imagination here , prepare ahead, and then limit discussion  to two minutes per person.

Create an atmosphere of fun if the meeting warrants it. For training, or creative/innovation working groups then it would. However, for other more serious meetings  then use an exercise which is a little more serious. Remember the aim is to encourage sharing and for everyone to raise their energy early on in the meeting.

What  have you used to energise a virtual meeting?

 

Barbara is an executive coach, leadership and creativity facilitator. She has coached people  in a variety of corporate settings, and developed a unique approach to using creative techniques in her coaching and workshops to enable change at a group or individual level. She has recently published a book on creativity for leaders with Dr. Tracy Stanley, entitled Creativity Cycling .

What are icebreakers and why are they important?

 

What are Icebreakers?

I am sure that many of you, like me, will have had that sinking feeling as we enter a new meeting. Especially when we don’t know anyone. However confident we are, it’s a difficult time.

 a goup sharing information
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

This is  when facilitators can really help to ensure their meetings get off to a good start by using appropriate icebreakers. These are exercises that enable people to get to know one another and feel more comfortable.  They help to break down the natural barriers we put up between ourselves and others.

How do Icebreakers help?

  1. At a basic level they enable people to start to get to know one another and learn other participants  names.
  1. To learn more about the other participants – this may be appropriate when names are already known but little else.
  1. To enable everyone to speak and therefore make an early contribution. It has been shown that when participants have contributed verbally to a meeting or workshop early, they become more comfortable in later contributions. The opposite is also true.
  1. To start to feel a bit more comfortable in the room – this follows on from the last point. Who amongst us has never had the feeling of discomfort first time they enter a new group? A positive icebreaker can really help this feeling to disappear.
  1. To build trust; the more we share with others about ourselves, and others share with us, the more trust we build up.
  1. To establish a climate for the meeting/workshop etc. This goes beyond the simpler introductions. An icebreaker can be introduced which starts to create a positive atmosphere and in the case of creativity facilitation, a playful fun climate.

In choosing an icebreaker you will need to consider the above points and determine which is the most appropriate purpose for your icebreaker.

Examples of Icebreakers

There are a range of icebreakers that can be used and here I will offer a few examples to suit different purposes.

At a basic level, Self-Introductions, that is that each person in turn introduces themselves, may be enough. However,  these are often uncomfortable for the first few participants. How much do we say, what do we say? We are often rehearsing this while we should be listening to others.

An alternative approach which I favour, is to ask people to Interview one another. Working in pairs, or threes depending upon numbers, each person interviews another and then introduces that other person to the whole group.  Give a small number of questions that could be used, for example, name, occupation, hobbies, and keep the timing tight.

A more energising and fun icebreaker focusing on names only would be a name game. For example:

Ask participants to stand or sit in a circle and introduce themselves using only their name and an adjective to describe themselves using the first letter of their name. For example, I would say my name, Barbara and use an adjective beginning with B to describe me. So, I might start with bubbly Barbara. The next person, say Tom, then says something like trusting Tom, however he also has to say bubbly Barbara first. Then it goes on – the third person may say I am super Sarah, after saying bubbly Barbara, trusting Tom….

You can probably imagine that this soon descends into laughter and relaxes participants who invariably forget the earlier names!

If  more sharing is needed to build trust, you need to use an icebreaker that will enable each person to share more information about themselves.  A fun icebreaker for doing this would be what I call Two Truths and a lie.

For this exercise, ask everyone to think of three things to say about themselves, two of which are the truth and one is a lie. After a short while, each participant in turn states the three things, and after each contribution other participants try to identify the lie. This serves the purpose of sharing and can raise the energy in the group creating a playful climate.

A simpler alternative icebreaker where people already know each other would be for each member of the team to share in turn one thing that no-one else knows about them.

I have also experienced and facilitated more elaborate icebreakers which can take up to a couple of hours and can be justified when the program the group will be following is a long one. Examples have included tango dancing lessons, cookery lessons, and outdoor training exercises.

Finally, it is important to keep the timing tight with icebreakers, particularly with short training sessions or meetings. Make it an appropriate amount of time and manage this well.

What are your favourite icebreakers? It would be great to share on this topic.

Barbara is an executive coach, leadership and creativity facilitator. She has coached women and men in a variety of corporate settings, and has developed a unique approach to using creative techniques in her coaching and workshops to enable change at a group or individual level. She has recently published a book on creativity for leaders with Dr. Tracy Stanley, entitled Creativity Cycling .