How to use energizers in meetings

Meeting expert Bo Krüger gives his advice on how to use energizers and power-mingling exercises in meetings

What can energizers be used for?

In an time with far too many boring and ineffective meetings where we spend endless hours glued to a chair, energizers and power mingling exercises are effective and diverse means to jumpstart energy and group dynamics.

Energizers and power mingling exercises are short and simple exercises and games, which in principle can be used anytime and anywhere. The exercises are not extravagant or frightfully challenging, but still it is amazing what they can do to us.

  1. They create an innovative and creative environment because they allow us to act out and laugh. 
  2. They can be used to shake people together very quickly, so that we likewise want to talk about what is really important to us. 
  3. They often involve light physical activity, which enhances concentration and the learning ability.
  4. They provide energy. 
  5. They make us laugh.
  6. They give us the opportunity to "make mistakes" in each other’s presence, so we can relax and avoid using energy on acting smart in front of others.
  7. They train our brains, because they often make demands on our ability to combine things with our speed.
  8. They show us from new angles, so we can better utilize each other’s full potential.
  9. They can create variation in training and meetings.

I often hear that there are certain groups of people that can under no circumstances create these kinds of exercises. I meet them almost never! Everyone basically wants to play and be challenged, but the art lies in serving the exercises in the right way and in the correct order.

How to go about it

This section gives you some good advice on what to consider when you doing the exercises. The advice may provide a helping hand, but they do not change the fact that the only way you become a virtuoso in the use of energizers and power mingling exercises is to use them again and again.

Choose the exercises that you think are fun. It is much easier to motivate others to do the exercises if they can tell that you like them.

Try the exercise with family or colleagues before trying it on a "stranger". It can give you a feel of security in your presentation that could make it easier to get others to do the exercise.

The exercises are based on the fact that they can be implemented in a regular (large) meeting or training room. Most of the exercises require a little floor space. Plan in advance where you can be. If possible, go into an adjacent room or ask participants to move a few tables and chairs (itself an energizer).

Introduce the exercise enthusiastically and confidently. Start for instance by saying: "just like the great artists or athletes, it is important to warm up mentally and physically, before we start on a difficult task." A preliminary explanation is good, but make sure it does not get too long. If it gets to be too long, nervousness will only increase. Get started as soon as possible so that any possible opposition fails to grow.

Be prepared to encounter resistance. You will always find that some of the participants seem as if they do not want to join the fun. Just remember that they are merely uncertain because they have not tried it before, they just started. Therefore, it is also important that you try to create confidence among the participants by ensuring that there will not be made fun of those who are not that good.

Do not force anyone to join. It is perfectly legitimate to say no to doing energizers. Do not let go of the fact that there may be one or two who will not join. Concentrate on those who are most motivated. It is also those who can get the others to join.

Make sure the pace of the exercises is constant. Do not always wait for the last people. It's not important that things get done properly. It is important that there is energy and humour in the air.

It can be a good idea to start an event with 2-3 energizers to accustom participants to them. You can then benefit greatly by continuing to make energizers periodically. You will find that participants will enjoy them more and more. Perhaps the participants themselves bring along energizers they know from other contexts.

Optimum times for energizers

  1. At the beginning of a meeting (where the group culture is defined). Here the power-mingling exercises are particularly suitable. 
  2. At times when the energy and concentration levels are going down, for instance after lunch and after afternoon tea. 
  3. When switching to activities where participants must work creatively, be very active or working with others. 
  4. At the end of a meeting, so we finish off with high energy and joy in the body.

The exercises are all about playing and creating a good atmosphere and not about winning or perform. I can not recommend over-emphasizing the competition aspect, which may be in some of the exercises. Rather make a virtue out of the fact that it is an advantage if they make mistakes and slip up. For it is only those who dare to fail, who can create new things and learn something new. Perhaps even make some mistakes and relax about it to show that you mean it. Enjoy it and make sure you too have fun. These exercises not only make it more enjoyable for the participants, it is also a possibility that you can laugh and get some new energy.

Enjoy!

Meeting expert Bo Krüger, Movind Minds, www.movingm...

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Energizers are effective and diverse means to jumpstart energy and group dynamics. They are short and simple exercises and games, which can be used anytime and anywhere!