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Put Team Building Front and Center at Your Conference

Put Team Building Front and Center at Your Conference

Many event organizers think about team building as an add-on function. One that fills a gap in the agenda. Or can be completed on attendees’ free time (i.e. paintball or rock climbing).

But truth be told, the right team building activity can help build relationships, trust and cohesiveness among participants especially if they don’t know each other well or there’s already tension between them. The key to success is to introduce the team theme when attendees arrive and keep it alive until the meeting concludes.

So, how do you do this? Here is a suggested roadmap to success from team building experts John Chen from Geoteaming, Brandi Tice from Play with a Purpose and Larry Lipman from Fun Team Building.

Start with Structure

When attendees register, ask them questions and gather their profiles. From this data, either methodically or randomly divide them into teams of four to six individuals. Color code each person’s badge and encourage teammates to stay together throughout the meeting. If you opt for the systematic process, identify individuals who don’t know each other and/or have similar expectations from the event.

Mesh in Your Conference Goals

What are your and each attendee’s objectives? Which team building activities will deliver on them?

For example, Geoteaming focuses on using technology to bring in remote participants, especially when time is limited, and budgets are restrictive. Play with a Purpose creates customized programs based on your main goal. Fun Team Building provides corporate programs that are aligned with solving problems.  

Customize Agenda toward Team Building

There are four components to developing a strong team building event:

  1. Identifying Event/Business Goals
  2. Establishing a Realistic Budget
  3. Paying Attention to Attendee Learning Styles
  4. Assessing Participant Demographics (age, technology familiarization, profession)

Given this, here are four activities you may consider:

  • Scavenger Hunt – great for building team cohesiveness and competitive spirit. There are mobile phone apps available or you can provide a list of challenges each team must complete in order to gain points.
  • Gamification  —  good for interaction, retention and training. Smartphones and iPad or tablet rentals are the preferred tools of choice because they are light, portable, have long battery lives and can support a plethora of apps.
  • Paintball – a fun activity just for the sake of it. However, Larry Lipman cautions, “If participants aren’t familiar with the rules of paintball at the end of the exercise, they will feel frustrated. This can accomplish nothing in the team building arena.”
  • CSR Activity – These feel good activities allow groups to build or deliver items for the common good of the community, such as building bikes for underprivileged children, volunteering at a local food pantry or donating and wrapping gifts for families in a homeless shelter. The goal in this case is giving back.

Still not sure team building will deliver for you? Test it out on a small meeting and poll participants for feedback. If you receive positive feedback that it helped move the needle toward a more cohesive team environment, you are onto something. If it isn’t well received, keep testing and trying.

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