Read an Excerpt
The big book of people skills games
By Edward E. Scannell, Colleen A. Rickenbacher
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2010The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Using Games and Activities in Your Meetings
Teamwork divides the task and doubles the success.
For those of you who have read some of the other books in the series (The Big Book of Presentation Games, The Big Book of Team Building Games, and more), you will find a decidedly different and marked addition to this work.
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Although you will still find a number of the exercises and activities that are so much a part of this series, you will also find a volume of content-rich and informative chapters filled with topics and ideas so critical for success in today's work world. The Big Book of People Skills Games is a unique work that will serve as a ready reference to enhance one's interpersonal skills both personally and professionally.
In a study conducted by Development Dimensions International (DDI) in 2009, a thousand employees were asked what classes they would like to take to further develop their own personal development. In addition to the expected desire for technical skills, their top listings were "presenting/selling ideas," "communication," "managing change," "team building," and other relevant interpersonal skills—all of which are included in this book.
The World of Meetings
As a professional in the world of meeting planning, speaking, or training, you are well aware of the importance of face-to-face meetings. While this is not to disparage the use of the virtual meeting, most experienced trainers are of one voice in proclaiming the value of people getting together to share ideas. With that in mind, let's review some of the basics in planning for your next workshop or presentation.
Goals. Most meeting planners acknowledge they don't take time to actually identify the purpose of their respective meetings. Happily, with the current focus on accountability and return on investment (ROI), this lack of planning is changing. In your role as a trainer or speaker, how do you rate? Do you have identified objectives? Do your participants know what they are?
Attendees. For internal or corporate sessions, you likely already know the profile of your participants. For the outside speaker, not so. Here, there is a definite need to find out as much as possible about those attending your program. This can be done through a preprogram questionnaire or sometimes even on the spot.
Topic. What is the theme of the meeting? For workshops and seminars, are the people coming aware of the agenda? Is there a chance for them to suggest additional items or topics to be considered or covered during your training?
Outcomes. Certainly there will be some kind of evaluation or appraisal, but what will happen after the session is concluded? Were there specified goals and what were the desired end results of this meeting?
Traits of Games and Activities
While we recognize that the very nature of the word games connotes fun, that analogy is not the whole story. Indeed, if participants (and their supervisors) see your workshops as all fun and games, there may be a rude awakening ahead. The activity can be used most effectively when it enhances or supports and enriches the content of the program. Whether your attendees are primarily auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners, you can be sure that the proper game or activity will reinforce the style of any learner.
As is true in most of the books in this series, you will see the following traits much in evidence in all the games and activities offered.
1. Brief in nature. The exercises presented herein are quick and easy. Time is all too precious to take any more than is absolutely necessary to get your point across. With that in mind, you will find games that range from only a minute or two to some that may take 15 to 20 minutes. While some outdoor team- building events may well take a few hours or more, we strongly believe that "the shorter, the better."
2. Nonthreatening. All of these games herein have been field-tested by the authors and their colleagues. Further, they have been used with different cultures and with participants from entry level to the C-suites.
3. Flexible. The best way to use these activities is to initially try them out with friends or family. Check each activity out and then adapt it to befit your particular style and comfort zone.
4. Low cost. As you review these activities, you will appreciate that most of these games require very few, if any, outside resources. While some organizations and associations may suggest that copies of handouts be provided, many have joined the sustainability movement; in that spirit, most of these can used with PowerPoint slides.
5. Generic. While most of the exercises will show a specific objective or learning point, they are usable for most any group. Your experience and expertise will allow you to target the exercises to the wants and needs of your audience.
The Use—and Misuse—of Games
Recent brain research has confirmed that unless you involve or somehow engage your attendees every five to seven minutes, you will lose them.
Preparation. Do your homework! Check out each exercise's objectives, procedure, and suggested discussion questions. Add to them to make it more tailored to your own presentation style.
Brevity. Make your point and move on. Think about letting the games be the dessert and not the main course. Start with a quick get-acquainted activity, but don't get carried way. For a keynote, consider using two or three activities at most. In a longer workshop, you will want to sprinkle several throughout the day.
Purpose. Be certain that your participants understand why you are using a particular activity and stress that learning takes place during the processing, not the game itself.
Fun. It's certainly okay to be playful, but don't be gimmicky. If the attendees see you as the class clown, they'll think you belong in the circus, not the classroom!
As you use this book, you will find the activities fun and enjoyable, but remember that the bottom line is always "So what?" If you're hearing comments like these via text message or Twitter—"What did I learn?" "What was his point?" "Why did she spend so much time playing that game?"—make sure you always restate the purpose and the debriefing.
Don't overdo it. As mentioned above, the game is always the appetizer or dessert but not the main part of the meal. Use the game at the right time—and only at those times. Don't forget that you don't always need to use a prepared game to get and keep them engaged. Be spontaneous, and even give time for your attendees to show their own creativity.
Don't kill time. There may be a time or two when an activity is used as filler, but even in these rare cases, there must be a point or purpose.
Today's participants want and need content—ideas and information that will build and develop their own interpersonal relationships. Experiential learning applies to all styles of audiences and can materially assist them in their own personal and professional development.
As you read and review the activities contained in this book, always be looking for ways to make them even better for you and your groups. Don't have what's called "hardening of the categories." Be imaginative, be innovative, and be cre
Excerpted from The big book of people skills games by Edward E. Scannell. Copyright © 2010 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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