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10 DIY Team Building Activities & Exercises

Updated on December 24, 2013

Why Team Building?

Why is team building good for your company or workgroup?

- The group focuses in a goal and everyone cooperates. Training cooperation abilities in a playful atmosphere is beneficial to the group.

- The activities and exercises lead to a better understanding of each other in a situation which contributes to build mutual respect.

- Having some time together also contributes to create fellowship and self steem through fun.

- Logic and problem solving help to develop teamwork skills.

Through these games and activities, participants develop important abilities and relationships. Then, back to their daily rutines, the lessons learned will stay with them raising team's confidence and productivity.

#1 Missionaries and Cannibals

...or a funny game about cooperation

In this game, participants become missionaries and cannibals and are located on a bank of a river.

They must all go to the other side in an imaginary boat. The cannibals must never exceed in number in any of the riverbanks to the missionaries because they then will eat them. The boat can only get 2 people at the same time.

- N. Participants: any number

- Time: From 30-60 minutes

#2 One Word

...or what if you could put words in your boss' mouth?

This is a great activiy when people already know each other and you want them to go deeper in their mutual understanding. The mechanics of this exercise is to pose a question to the group: "What word would you like to hear from your boss?" and let the conversation begin. You should let participants 5 minutes to think about their answer before starting the activity.

This approach is interesting because there is no right or wrong question so participants will feel free to share their thoughs... which is a very good point for starters.

Tip: If no one wants to talk, you may ask them directly in a more natural and conversational way: "Hey Luke, what word would you like to hear from your boss?"

- N. Participants: 3-5 persons, if more you will have to make groups at random

- Time: From 15-30 minutes

#3 Crazy speed meeting

...or how to meet a large number of people, one at a time, in a funny way

Surely you've heard of "speed dating": participants rotating around a big table and being matched two by two in short periods of no more than ten minutes. The goal is to meet the maximum number of people in the shortest time. Well, this is the same concept applied to coworkers.

In this activity, you divide participants in two groups and seat them together by couples for a 2-minutes period. In this time, they will have to introduce each other: name, occupation, why they came to the event... ring a bell every 2 minutes to help people know when to change their seat.

This team building activity is especially appropriate when none of the participants of the meeting or event you have to run know each other. It is also very good in groups with very shy people, because they are forced to participate avoiding the "stage fear".

- N. Participants: any, the greater the number, more fun!

- Time: variable, depending on the number of couples

#4 Sweet presentation

...or a different way to bring people together around chocolate

This is an original and fun dynamic that works especially well with large groups of people. To do it, you have to buy a candy bar beforehand for each attendee, trying to buy different varieties as groups will be formed from them.

For example, if you want to form groups of five, ideally buy 5 Kit-Kat, 5 Snickers, 5 Twix, etc.. It is also a good idea to buy an extra chocolate bar to mark the tables: thus participants will know where to seat. Once seated, allow them to eat the chocolate and ask them to tell their story, you can easy things by posing questions like: "when did you join the company?" "what's your biggest challenge right now at work?" "describe a positive experience"

If among the participants there are people with food allergies, diabetes, etc.. you can do this same process with fruit or cookies... but what works best is the chocolate.

- N. Participants: groups of 4-5 people

- Time: 10-15 minutes

#5 Personal motto

...or a thoughtful activity with permanent markers and t-shirts

In this one you will need to buy a few t-shirts and permanent markers in advance. Every participant will have one t-shirt and one marker and you will ask them to write down their "personal motto".

For example, my personal slogan would be: "Eat, dance and laugh all you can", and the explanation would be that life is too short and we have yo enjoy and give others our best smile :)

- N. Participants: any, in groups of 4-5 persons

- Time: 30-45 minutes

#6 Giant Finger - ...or lot of laughs around a pole

Giant Finger
Giant Finger

In this game you will need a 6-9 feet pole and a hoop. The dynamics consists in placing a ring (the hoop) in the giant's finger (the pole). Participants must provide a coordinated solution to remove or add the ring to "giant finger."

- N. Participants: 5-12 persons

- Time: 30-90 minutes

#7 Human web

...or a messy activity where teamwork is the key

In this activity all the participants must stand close together, close their eyes, extend their arms and hold hands at random. When everybody has caught two hands, you can allow them to open their eyes.

The goal of the game is to undo the mess keeping hands hold, until all participants stand in a circle (without knots). In order to do this, they will have to jump, crawl, climb... fun is guaranteed.

- N. Participantes: from 6 persons, without limits.

- Time: variable, depeding on the numer of persons involved

#8 The Bell

...or reaching the top with a little help

In this game you will need many, many boxes (you can ask for some beer boxes in a bar and they surely will give you a few).

The team must reach out and touch a bell located 10 feet high. For this they have to build a structure with the elements that are offered (the boxes) and other they can find, allowing them to ring the bell in a limited time.

- N. Participants: 5-10 persons

- Time: 30-60 minutes

#9 The Top 5

...or finding what we have in common

This one is very simply: ask participants to make a list of 5 items they like/dislike. For example: best 5 songs or books, 5 favorite cities, worst 5 movies... After each one has made their list, they share it with the group. The goal is to make another 5-item list with 5 elements that many or all of the participants have included in their own lists.

This icebreaker activity helps participants to find common interests and sets the excuse to many discussions about why people like or dislike each of the things chosen. This is a good choice when there are many shy participants because talking about things like movies or books isn't as challenging as talking about their feelings at work.

- N. Participants: groups of 4-5 people

- Time: 15-30 minutes

#10 Big Moment

...or sharing the moment where all your abilities worked at 100%

Finally, as a finishing touch to these 10 team building activities, we will share an exercise that is very useful when your participants are very tired or you expect them to be uncooperative.

In these cases it is good to provide instructions on paper. Ask them to think about their career and choose a particular moment when all his abilities worked at 100%. Maybe it was getting a big client, or to persuade one unhappy client not to go, or solving a difficult problem.

- N. Participants: groups of 4-5 people

- Time: 30-45min

Team Building Blogs - ... where I blog once or twice a month

In these blogs you will find some of the activities and dynamics included in this lens, and tips on how to organize this type of team events, photos, etc.

I'm afraid both blogs are in Spanish (by the moment)... you can use Google Translator or ask me for a translation if you're very interested in a particular article.

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