9 Unique Team Building Games For Meetings That Work

This is a collection of fun team building games that any HR manager or Team Leader can apply before a team meeting.

I have personally tested them and refined them to function in a professional context, and I will give you step-by-step instructions for each one.

Most of all, these team building games:

  1. are quick and fun to do
  2. are simple and fast to explain
  3. work

So take these fun team building games and see which one is right for you!

Questions? Feel free to shoot an email – always happy to chat.

Enjoy!

 

Jump to Team Building Games to:

 

Team building games to wake up and get active before meetings

Team Building Games 5

 

TAKE SHAPE!

This is a very physical and fun team building game, perfect for morning meetings – just make sure people have had enough coffee and are at least three steps apart!

What you need:

An empty room, or enough space for people to move around without hitting each other.

Instructions:

  1. Have everyone form a circle;
  2. Tell each person to remember who is standing at their left;
  3. Scatter the circle, i.e. have everyone go to a random position around the room – make sure they can see clearly who was at their left in the circle.
  4. Have everybody take a bold, extreme shape with their body, examples
    1. Flying superhero
    2. Kneeling down and hands in the air
    3. Balancing on one foot
  5. When everyone has taken a shape, tell them to look at the person who was at their left
  6. When you say “go” everyone needs to imitate the posture of that person.

Because everyone will have different positions, everyone will be changing theirs quickly, so what you’ll get is a group of people desperately struggling to keep up with someone else’s changing posture, and making things worse in the meantime!

After 1-2 minutes, things should start to calm down and everyone should be syncing in the same position.

If that doesn’t happen, call it, everyone will be laughing and awake – which is precisely what you want!

 

SOMEONE LIKE ME

This is a fun team building game you can use to get people to open up, share, get to know each other better, and get active and wake up in the meantime!

What you need:

Enough room to make a circle. Chairs if you want.

Instructions:

  1. Everyone forms a circle, and a volunteer takes a spot in the middle (you can do that if everyone else is shy)
  2. The person in the middle will start by saying: “I’m looking for someone like me who…” and then add anything they want about themselves, e.g.:
    1. Is wearing blue socks
    2. Has recently finished a project
    3. Just met his in-laws
  3. After that, everyone who resonates with that sentence (everyone who is wearing blue socks for example), including the person in the middle, needs to take someone else’s spot
  4. The person who is left in the middle gets to start again with “I’m looking for someone like me who…” and add something about themselves.

Things to look out for:

  • Tell people to be careful when they change places! The last thing you want is people bumping into each other and get hurt!
  • If someone is left alone in the middle because nobody else is resonating with that sentence, tell everyone to give that person a big round of applause because it’s very difficult to be unique – then that person gets to choose someone else to take his place in the middle of the circle, and the team building game starts again.
  • You want people to share personal stories. If they don’t, share one of yours, and another, and so on – people will follow along!

This deep and fun team building game comes from Marijn Vissers of improphondo –  credit goes to him and to the Bring a brick podcast, where I first heard about it.

 

Team building games to focus and listen during meetings

Team Building Games 2

 

Have you ever been in a meeting in which people are physically there but all they do is look at their phones? What a waste of time and energy!

These team meetings could be so much lighter, shorter and effective if everyone actively listened and focused – so here are four fun team building games to play just before a meeting to help people focus and listen!

COUNT TO 20

This is a short and fun team building game to get your team’s listening muscles flowing!

What you need:

Enough room to form a circle

Instructions:

  1. Everyone in a circle
  2. The goal of the exercise is to count to 20 as a group (i.e. a person says “one”, someone else says “two” and so on)
  3. If two people talk over each other, the whole group needs to start again from one.

The goal of this team building game is to have people focus on what they hear and on finding the right moment to talk. They need to “feel” the right time to add a number to the count and to do that, they need to listen very well to what is going on in the group. If it takes more than 5-10 minutes to get to 20, call it and move along.

Things to look out for:

  • If people start pointing at each other or signaling blatantly when they want to talk, intervene and tell them to stop, that’s not the point of the game.
  • If people adopt a pattern (e.g. clockwise), disrupt it – your job is not to make it easy on them!

 

MIRROR GAME / FOLLOW THE FOLLOWER

This is a fun team building game you can use to get people out of their head and focused on their team.

What you need:

A big enough room.

Instructions:

  1. Everyone in pairs – each pair decides who leads first
  2. When you say “go” each pair will play the mirror game – i.e. one person moves and the other needs to follow movements as close as possible
  3. After 1-2 minutes switch roles: same pairs but the person who was leading now follows and vice versa;
  4. After 1-2 minutes both people are leading and following at the same time, meaning that they need to closely observe the other person and replicate even the smallest movement – all while moving in parallel.

Things to look out for:

  • People going crazy and trying to mess with the other person. Remind them that the goal is not to make it difficult for the other, but to make it easy!
  • If you’ve done it a few times already, you can skip directly to step 4. What’s more, you can have everyone form a circle and have everyone follow everyone’s movements – in this case it’s called “follow the follower” – a slightly more advanced version.

Research (Noy et al. 2011) shows that when people are leading and following at the same time (Step 4), they are more in sync with each other, with respect to when someone is leading and someone is following!

We also know that just moving in sync with someone else makes you more cooperative with that person, makes you trust that person more and makes you more supportive towards them (Valdesolo et al., 2011 and Wiltermuth et al., 2009).

Sounds like something you’d like your team members to be?

 

WORD ASSOCIATION

This is a quick and fun team building game to help your team focus and listen.

What you need:

Nothing really. Have people stand up from their chairs and they can stay around the table if you want – have them stand up though!

Instructions:

  1. Start by saying a word, any word
  2. The person to your left will say a word connected to what you said
  3. The person to her left will say a word connected to what she said, and so on.
  4. Go for speed, any association is good, but make sure there is no silence between people.

Call the game or move to Word disassociation after 2-3 rounds.

Things to look out for:

  • This is a fun team building game – keep it so! Don’t be pedantic if words are not really connected, people will mess up and have fun, but will focus while doing so!
  • Go for speed on this, come in with a good energy and keep the rhythm going, this game played at a slow pace is dreadful!

This game is pretty straightforward – it’s a basic warm-up for your listening “muscles”… point is: you do want those muscles warm by the time you get into a meeting.

 

WALK JUMP DASH FREEZE

This is an active and fun team building game that works similarly to “take shape” but is more focused on the listening part.

What you will get is awake and focused participants – so go for it!

What you need:

A room big enough to move around.

Instructions:

  1. Everyone is walking around the room, you yell out four commands from the side:
    1. “Stop”
    2. “Walk”
    3. “Jump”
    4. “Dash” or “Run”
  2. Everyone will do what you say (make sure they are careful when they run). Give commands at random for 2-3 minutes.
  3. After 3 minutes, tell them that they will be giving commands now, meaning anyone can yell out “stop”, or “dash” at any time, and everyone needs to do it
  4. After another 3 minutes, no commands are given, so they need to look at what everyone else is doing! If anyone stops walking, everyone else needs to stop walking. If anyone jumps, everyone jumps.

This game gradually forces people to notice what’s happening around them and sync up with the rest of their team – and as we’ve seen, a focused team working in sync will perform better at a number of levels!

Things to look out for:

  • In the last round, make sure people are paying attention. If you notice they are sloppy or don’t see what is happening, call them out on it.
  • Here is another explanation of this team building game.

 

Team building games to get the brain to work during meetings

Team Building Games 4

WORD DISASSOCIATION

This is a quick and fun team building game that will get people to focus AND will wake up their sleepy heads!

You can use this game right after word association to for an even better result

Instructions:

  1. Start by saying 4 words in a row: all these words will need to have as little connection to each other as possible (e.g. “banana, spaceship, scorpion, biceps”)
  2. The person to your left now says another 4 words, also completely disconnected, and the circle goes on;
  3. Between your last word and the first word of the other person there must also be no connection, just to make it more difficult. If you last word is “shoe” her first word cannot be “foot”, just to be clear…
  4. Again, go for speed!

This team building game is a nice curveball to throw after playing word association because it forces your brain to shift gears quickly and wake up. After this, jumping into any meeting will be a piece of cake!

Things to look out for:

  • Just like for word association, don’t be too strict and go for speed and pace – it’s up to you to keep the energy up and make this team building game fun!

 

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

This fun team building game is guaranteed to start a meeting off in a good mood and to have your team’s brains at their best!

Usually, people ask questions and receive answers – in this team building game, instead, we will give answers and people need to figure out the questions afterwards!

What you need:

Nothing, just have people get up from their chairs and stand in a circle.

Instructions:

  • Start by giving an answer, anything at all
  • Point to someone else in the circle
  • The person you point to needs to immediately come up with a question to your answer
  • Now that person gets to come up with an answer and point at someone else, and so on.
For example:
  • Joe:
    • (Answer): “24 hours eating popcorn” (points to Mary)
  • Mary:
    • (Question): “How do you intend to spend your holidays?
    • (Answer): “Red, Yellow and Transparent” (points to Julian)
  • Julian:
    • (Question): “What is the colour of things you like to drink?
    • etc…

Things to look out for:

  • For this game, you don’t really need to make sense, go for the fun of it! If people are playing it safe, encourage them to come up with very difficult answers, and see what happens.
  • Go for pace, don’t let people sit on their thoughts for too long.

 

CLAP 3 AND 7

This fun team building game takes a similar idea to count to 20 but requires more brainwork – and is somewhat more active!

What you need:

Nothing apart from enough room to form a circle

Instructions:

  1. Form a circle;
  2. You need to count to 100 in a group, one person at a time, going clockwise
  3. When someone makes a mistake, that person will start counting again from one.
  4. Instead of saying some numbers, you will clap your hands, these numbers are:
    1. Numbers 3 and 7
    2. Numbers that are a multiple of 3 or 7, for example 6 or 35
    3. Numbers that contain the digit 3 or 7. For example 31 or 47
For example:
  1. Joe: “one”
  2. Mary: “two”
  3. Todd: (clap)
  4. Julia: “four”
  5. Joe: “five”
  6. Mary: (clap)
  7. Todd: (clap)
  8. Julia: “eight”
  9. Joe: (clap)
  10. Mary: “ten”

And so on until you reach 100… If your team’s heads aren’t working after this, I don’t know what will get them running!

Things to watch out for:

  • Keep the energy up, it’s tedious otherwise
  • At certain points there is just non-stop clapping, for example between 30 and 40: all numbers contain the digit 3! Make sure everyone is following!

 

 

References

  • Noy, L., Dekel, E., & Alon, U. (2011). The mirror game as a paradigm for studying the dynamics of two people improvising motion together. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(52), 20947-20952.
  • Valdesolo, P., & DeSteno, D. (2011). Synchrony and the social tuning of compassion. Emotion, 11(2), 262.
  • Wiltermuth, S. S., & Heath, C. (2009). Synchrony and cooperation. Psychological science, 20(1), 1-5.

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