We have recently been asked to contribute to a magazine article about shyness and engagement of participants in conferences and team building events and I thought they would good topics for today. Companies invest thousands – sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds – in conferences and team building, often to communicate a vision or create a sense of belonging and worth among participants.
It’s no secret that, especially at work, most of us feel most comfortable in ‘normal’ surroundings doing ‘normal’ things. Within conferences and team building events, people are taken outside of their traditional environment. There is the general assumption (and perhaps pressure) that everyone should mix, network and get along with their peers and immediate employers. Potentially, there is a huge cocktail of anxiety, self-consciousness and fear.
In this challenging environment, we at Creative Team Events are typically asked to introduce an interactive activity that is physical, emotionally revealing and, above all else, new. It’s our job as facilitators to get every individual – whatever their personality – engaging with others, to get results. The world is full of many different people with different personalities who react to situations in many different ways. Furthermore, how people feel on the day will also impact on how they will engage with their colleagues on the task in hand.
We see the initial emotions of surprise, fear and anxiety every day as we observe people walking back in from coffee or lunch to find their meeting room transformed into a zombie dance class (for our Thriller event), or to find themselves facing rampaging half-naked Haka warriors!
We achieve results by getting everyone to try something unique that:
- encourages learning
- allows people to see a totally new side to themselves and their colleagues
- produces group success.
In these days of faceless communication and silo working, this has to be a positive!
Facilitation is critically important to achieve engagement of all participants. In my personal experience, humour and expertise are key ingredients for successful facilitation. Gently and intellectually teasing a group to laugh at the facilitator and themselves is the secret to winning trust and respect. However, humour alone is not enough for some. Before some people will engage in the task being asked of them, they need to fully respect the authority and expertise of the lead facilitator.
In all our events, there is space for gregarious extroverts to be in the limelight or shy introverts to be in the background supporting. Knowing instinctively how to manage this is the secret to all-round happy engagement.
As people respond to learning in different ways, successful facilitation also requires the use of a range of tools to engage everyone, including:
- aural methods (for example, the way the facilitator uses language and his or her voice)
- visual methods (for example, the facilitator’s body language)
- kinesthetic methods (for example, how the physical act is performed).
Through many years of facilitation experience, I have found that the faces of some participants can sometimes look strained or worried while they are learning new skills such as drumming, singing or dancing. However, they have later revealed that they were simply “concentrating” and that they were brimming with excitement and having a fantastic experience!
For more information about our team events, please contact us.
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