An Interactive Event for Theater Style Seating?

This was an interesting question posed to us recently. In this seating configuration, people cannot move except to stand up, sit down, and turn in place. However, you may have people seated in this fashion for a meeting, but need a quick energizer or two. Here are some great ideas that we formulated just for a group like this…

Ideas for Theater Seating Activities– This is a series of fun, energizing activities. Some are actual team competitions, others require the entire group to work together.

(Six) Team Competitions-  The teams are denoted by crepe paper streamers that are draped between and on the back of the seats. The area is divided into six sections (imagine two rows of three squares). Each area represents one team.

Beach Volley – 15 minutes– Each team is given one small beach ball. At the signal to commence, music starts playing and the balls must be batted into the air towards another team. The volleying continues until the music stops, and no one knows when that will happen. However many balls are within a team area when the music stops, that team gets a negative point. In the second round, another beach ball is added to each area (total now of 12 beach balls). Once again, when the music starts, teams must attempt to keep any beach balls out of their own area. There is a third and fourth round. Each time, another beach ball is added to each team area. In the final round, there are 24 balls being batted around. In the end, the team with the fewest points is declared the winner.

Clues- 15 minutes– Each of the six teams is assigned with the name of an animal (horses, lions, giraffes, etc.). A series of questions will be presented on the screen. These are trivia questions – whose answers will be one of the animals. Simple example: It’s the name of the NFL team from Detroit. A: Lions. When the question comes up, the team with the correct animal must stand and in unison, make a sound or movement like the animal they represent. If they are the first to do so, they get a point. Here is the tough part—if anyone from your team stands up and your group is not the correct animal, then you get a negative point. Additionally, for some of the questions more than one animal is the correct answer. Example: Which animal can run faster than 20 mph? That might pertain to more than one team, but the team that stands first gets the point.

Shapes and Outlines- 15 minutes– In this fun activity, each team will be asked to form a shape given by the facilitator and also shown on the screen. Each of the six teams must decide who will need to stand in order to form the shape for their group—depending upon where each person is sitting and what the shape is. A simple example is a Circle. People on each team need to stand and form a perfect, solid circle. A point is given to the team that is able to accomplish this first. The shapes/outlines start easy and get more complex. Finally, the last shape is their company logo (if that lends itself to this exercise). If the logo does not, then it might be the company initials.

Full Group Activity

Balloon Drop- 5 minutes (a Minutes-to-Win-It Challenge)– Balloons are held in a net above the auditorium. There are six colors of balloons. Each of the six areas is assigned to one of the colors. When the balloons drop, everyone needs to bat them away or try to collect them—in order to collect all the balloons that are of just their color. The idea is to have all the balloons sorted into the six areas in less than 3 minutes. The group must all work together to get this accomplished. If they are successful, everyone earns a point—AND the team that got all its balloons collected first earns an extra point (only if the whole group was successful in doing this under 3 minutes).

Card Stunts- 15 minutes– This is a take-off on the college football card stunts you have seen on TV. This can be done as a team competition or as a whole group. Every seat can be preset with a list of the card stunts (or you can try to have people figure this out by themselves). The list would state which card the person in that seat should hold up for each of the stunts. You can have them spell out words or company symbols, etc. There should be a live feed camera trained on the audience. This will allow them to see the finished stunt—or it will allow them to see what they are doing and figure it out (if you are not going to provide a stunt list for each seat). Great fun to see them form the words and pictures on the big screen. Many different ways to orchestrate this.

You’re only limited by your imagination and the time it takes to organize any of these activities.

Has Business Etiquette Been Left in the Dust?

Technology has certainly changed the speed and the way we do business. We no longer have to wait for the mail to arrive –or even to receive a fax. Proposals and contracts are sent and signed electronically at dizzying speed. However, with all this time efficiency, common courtesy has suffered, because we don’t have to meet face to face. Anonymity and speed have undermined the need to build relationships. Whatever happened to just being courteous and “nice?”  

There are many examples of a plain lack of common courtesy, but the number one irritation that nearly everyone has experienced at some point: you receive a phone call for information – this could be from a potential customer or a co-worker. They want it immediately. You rearrange your schedule so that you can get it done in the time requested. You follow-up to make sure the information was received. Then—you never hear from them again—even after several emails and phone calls. Nothing. It would be “nice” just to have them acknowledge or say “thanks, but no thanks.” There really isn’t an excuse. It takes seconds to email a short but “nice” reply.

Some think that in business you don’t have to be nice. But consider that all businesses are owned and operated by people, and we are all human. We all have feelings. If you treat someone poorly, what will happen the next time you need their help? Why gamble with thinking you will never see or need them again. It’s a small world. It does not take much to be courteous. If you’re a manager or team leader, set a good example for those who follow you: Do the right thing and be courteous in business as well as your personal life. You’ll never regret it.

The Design & Engineering Olympics– Expanded and Funtastic!

Here’s a great event that has something for everyone. It:

  1. Provides a series of team challenges, not just a single competition. This keeps things moving quickly and keeps energy high.
  2. Has a variety of types of challenges—some that are more physical and some more mental. This increases the appeal, because there is “something for everyone.”
  3. Requires a high level of interaction and collaboration. They are true “team challenges”—not activities that rely heavily on the skills of a few.

Introducing: The Design & Engineering Olympics. It is a fun and engaging competition that is a series of three design and construction competitions. These range in complexity from simple to more complicated and also have varying deadlines.

In each contest, the teams are given the materials, tools, objectives and a deadline.  With each subsequent contest, the challenge gets more difficult. Each competition is scored differently. This encourages each team to understand the measure of success, and plan accordingly.

For this 2.5- 3 hour event, there are three competitions that you would select from the following list:

  1. Quick Challenge (select 1)
    1. Marshmallow Shooter– each team must figure out how to construct a device that will shoot mini-marshmallows at least 30 feet—using PVC pipe.
    2. OR Rocket Launchers—each team needs to put together a simple Rocket Launcher (from a kit) and shoot off 3 rockets.
    3. OR The Ball Machine—each team needs to construct a pipeline of PVC pipe and connectors that are of varying diameters and curves—in order to create a tube through which 20 small balls will roll in the fastest time possible.
  2. Medium Challenge (select 1)
    1. The Tower—teams need to build a tower out of index cards and tape that is at least 20” in height. It must hold the weight of a full 20 oz. cup of water placed at the top of it.  
    2. OR Marshmallow Catapult—built from cardboard, rubber bands, string and a pencil. Teams must be able to shoot marshmallows 30 feet.
    3. OR 3-2-1 Lift Off!– an exciting rocket building and launching event. The rockets are made out of light weight foam and cardboard tubing. The challenge is to create not only a great looking rocket, but to design one that will fly the highest.
  3. Complex Challenge (select 1)
    1. Walking on Eggs– each team must construct a pair of shoes that can walk on eggs. The eggs are placed in the sole of each shoe. After construction is completed, all teams must demonstrate that 4 people on their team can walk 30’ in the shoes without breaking the eggs—in a spirited relay race. Plenty of cheering!
    2. OR Mousetrap Cars—each team builds a model “car” powered by a mousetrap. They must adjust the variables on the car and figure out, by trial and error, how to make the car go the farthest. The testing and adjusting are a lot of fun. The car that can go the furthest wins.
    3. OR The Trebuchet– This is a weighted-arm, catapulting device that flings tennis balls at a cardboard “castle.” Each team must build and test its own trebuchet as well as its own cardboard castle. In the final competition, each team will shoot at a different team’s castle (drawn at random). They have a limited time to knock down the castle with their trebuchet skills.

In the end all team scores are tallied, and the team with the highest cumulative score is declared the winner. But everyone has a great time creating these entertaining objects—as they practice collaboration and teamwork. And that’s the point!

Experiential Learning = Real Team Building

There is a very wide range of activities that people refer to as “team building” these days. Nearly everything that is done in a group is referred to as team building—even things like going to a ball game together. However, this is incorrect. And because so many things are categorized as such, you’ll see some people push back and question the need or relevance of “team building.”

First, selecting the right activity is key. “You must tie team activities to real work-related skills,” says Cynthia Shon, president of Corporate Games, Inc., which designs and implements corporate team building events. “When people don’t see that relevance, they don’t understand the value of participating. When you make the connection to work situations, participants realize the exercises can impact workplace issues and skills. They can even discover something about themselves. It’s not always easy to be a team player. We’re often in front of a computer or phone all day, not dealing with people face to face. We’re losing important people skills. That’s just one reason why team interaction is so important.”

What is Experiential Learning? Not experimental, but experiential. This is an interactive exercise that allows the participants to learn by “experiencing” –as opposed to passive learning like reading or listening to a lecture. This is exactly what the best team building activities do. They are fun, but they are also business simulations. For example, the Corporate Games Building Bridges event is a team challenge that requires participants to practice the skills they need at work in order to succeed. This includes: 1) Brainstorming, 2) Collaboration, 3) Group consensus building, 4) Communicating with the customer, 5) Execution of a plan to meet a specific deadline, 6) Adjusting to change, 7) Quality of product, 8) Relationship building, and more. In other words, they practice and experience these skills and learn by doing.

How has team building changed or evolved?

How has team building changed or evolved over the past couple of years? Has technology contributed to the innovation? The essence of “team building” has long been fun and games. It started out as a way of getting people to interact and ultimately get to know each other better—leading to a higher comfort level among employees and hopefully better communication and collaboration. Many of the first team building companies offered things like inflatable games that eventually became the staple of grad nights across the country. Team Olympics in a wide array of formats were also popular and continue to be. However, more companies are looking for events that also have more direct bearing on teamwork and group problem solving –not just fun (though fun will always be a key requirement). These activities include design and construction events, scavenger hunt variations, and other unique team challenges where there is no one “right answer.” Though technology does offer new possibilities in creating these challenges, the basis of team building is still through face-to-face interaction. For example, in some of our challenges, we require internet access to find answers or decipher clues. The common use of GPS also has provided lots of possibilities when it comes to scavenger hunt events. And there companies that have developed apps that provide a scavenger hunt done totally by Smart phone.  At Corporate Games, we don’t like to rely too much on electronics for a number of reasons, the most obvious one is that it is something else that must work flawlessly in order for the event to succeed. What happens if you can’t connect or when devices are not working properly?

Reality TV and the entertainment industry in general has influenced the direction of team building events also. People like to believe they could compete in Survivor, Amazing Race, or other reality TV competitions and game shows. They do, after all, require teamwork -and reveal the difficulty and angst that often comes with trying to work with many diverse opinions and abilities. Many companies, including Corporate Games, have found ways to incorporate elements of these shows into intriguing and entertaining events. These challenge everyone’s team-player abilities and allow them to practice working together in a “safe situation,” because even if you don’t “win”–it will still be fun and you will have learned something about yourself as well as your teammates.