Meeting Energizers – Examples


Business meetings or group events can be exhausting especially if they span several days and contain mostly sessions where presentations are made and do not have any or many interactive sessions. It can be challenging to keep meeting participants engaged and energized during such meetings and it is not uncommon to spot people struggling to keep their eyes open during long afternoon sessions. The first session after lunch can be especially tough and don’t forget the impact of jet-lag on participants from other time-zones.

Business Meeting Energizers resource link

The Business Meeting Energizers resource shows some activities that can be done with meeting participants to help them feel re-energized during a meeting. These short exercises are best done between agenda items and can take anything from 2 to 7 minutes to complete so they are not a major disruption to your planned agenda. You would typically need an open space where participants can gather for these exercises. This space could be in the front between the projection screen and the first tables/chairs or it could be in the back of the room behind the last tables and chairs.  It is a good idea to mention that you need this space when you arrange the set-up of the room.

As the leader of the meeting or the facilitator you should always have a few of these quick energizer exercises on a sheet of paper or in the back of your mind to use on the spot. When you notice that the energy and responsiveness of the group is dropping you should be able to quickly conduct an energizing exercise to revive the energy and the alertness of the group attending your event or business meeting.

Risk Management TEMPLATE

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When project teams set out to achieve specific goals and outcomes they always have to first stop and consider risks. This is important during the planning phase and also important to frequently assess during the project life-time. The project team should check the status of the risk plan against reality at various moments in time.

A risk plan is simply a plan that helps you identify where obstacles to successful outcomes could appear and what you could do about it. In some cases a potential risk can be avoided by taking some preventative actions in time. Some risks or obstacles could be things that can happen at any moment and some would only occur under specific circumstances. The project team should consider the key elements of the  project plan – where would the project plan have the highest risk of failing if key milestones or achievements are not met? That is the starting point of the template that I am sharing with you.

The Risk Management Template  shows you how to identify risks, identify the risk level of a possible obstacle to project success, determine what can be done to avoid or mitigate an issue/obstacle to success  and of course select who exactly should take the actions in the event that the risk is realized or upfront as a preventative measure.

Risk Management Template resource link

Just download the attachment and complete the sections in yellow for each of the key elements of your project plan. Then answer the questions as outlined at the top of each column for each of the key parts of your plan.

When you review the plan look at the elements that were rated as “high risk” that it could occur and also a “high impact” if that risk did materialize. Focus your attention more on those items, but it is also true that sometimes a “low risk” obstacle could have a high impact on the project so be sure to review every element of the risk plan when you do your regular risk plan checks.

Every plan has risks and great returns on investments are often associated with a higher level of risks. The objective is not to avoid risks completely since the ability to manage risks well and willingness to accept and manage risks can be a competitive advantage in the marketplace. This template can help you increase your awareness of risks and learn how to manage them throughout your project. Becoming better at risk management will make you a valuable project member and business partner.

Organization Level Communication TEAM ACTIVITY

Communications within an organization is very often a challenge and managers are often unaware of how challenging it really can be for employees to fully understand a message. Working in a matrix style organization can further add to the complexity of correctly interpreting communicated messages from the various managerial directions.

The Organizational Level Communication activity  resource link

This team activity/exercise helps teams or groups to experience some of these challenges and therefore motivates participants to take a new look at how they are communicating in their own organizations and if they could possibly make improvements. The Organizational Level Communication activity can be run with groups of different sizes since the large group is split into smaller groups of 5 each for this exercise.persons org chart for activity

When you are left with less than 4 people after creating the small groups, add each of them to other small groups of 5 and give them the handout of Person E. Do not run the exercise with a small group of less than 4 people since it will impact the dynamics you are able to create for the small group.

Make sure you give the participants enough time to complete their reading of the handouts they each receive since the exercise is and looks simple, but it is very important that they understand the words and symbols they are to use for communicating with each other. Move among the reading groups of participants to answer any individual questions that may exist before you start the exercise.

The resource contains details of the set-up, the activity rules, the handouts that should be given to participants and also materials and room space needed. Debrief questions about the activity and discussion question options are also covered.

The indication is for the actual exercise to last between 10 and 15 minutes. You may need to use your own judgment regarding when to stop the exercise. Most of the small groups must have had the opportunity for all persons to exchange at least a few notes with those they are permitted to communicate with. This makes for a richer debrief and discussion session afterwards.

You can add your own discussion questions depending on the reasons why you felt this group of people needed to go through this activity and the changes you are hoping to bring about in the group/organization that they belong to.

Icebreaker Advertising boards

postersThis icebreaker works well with new teams or when you have had quite a few members of a team change.  The time, materials and space requirements are very economical so this is easy to combine with early team meetings. Running this exercise can help you lead a new team into the right discussions to break down barriers to trust among (new) team members.

Advertising board Icebreaker resource link

The Advertising board Icebreaker is a simple exercise which requires very limited instructions to get started and completed. The most valuable part is most likely the debriefing questions you (as the facilitator) choose to use: (some options)

  • Did anyone see something on an advertising board that was surprising about team members?
  • What are the strengths you think this team has?
  • Where do you think this team could get into trouble (given these team members and what you now know about them?)

I would recommend that you use this exercise as part of a series of exercises to help new teams succeed in the long run. The Team Effectiveness Snapshot can be a great follow-up tool to introduce to the new team to help them on their journey of trust building and achieving a high level of performance.

Brand-new teams typically work well since most of the team members are “playing nice” at first, but as the team moves through the various stages of team formation  things can change. Most teams never make it out of the Storming phase so early introduction of team orientation, induction and assessment tools to help teams understand naturally occurring team dysfunctions can help them deal with these situations successfully. The advertising board icebreaker is a great way for teams in forming mode to break through the “niceness” and go a little deeper into the “who are you really” and “what do you bring to this team” discussion.

Conflict Resolution between Teams ACTIVITY

Teams or groups mostly get upset with each other due to ill-defined or badly executed processes or unclear interface issues between them. There are of course other reasons too, but whatever the cause inter-team upsets can cause an overall failure to perform according to expectations and a project/location not achieving planned business objectives and targets.

Intergroup conflict and effectiveness

The resource I am sharing is a process that can be used to help two (or more) teams/groups work through their issues with each other and how they are impacting each other.

The Conflict Resolution Activity is described in terms of set-up, process steps including some estimated timing for each of the steps along the way.  The timing is based on only two groups/teams working through the process. If you add teams/groups, do add additional presentation and discussion time to the combined portions of the process.

The process requires at least one facilitator provided the combined groups comprise of no more than 18 people. If you combine more than two groups I would also consider having an additional facilitator to assist in the breakout sessions. The opening and closing sessions should be attended by one senior manager or executive that interfaces with all of the attending groups – to make opening comments to set the scene and establish the importance of the meeting and also to close off the event with encouraging and appreciative comments.

Conflict Resolution Activity resource link


  • The process is flexible and it would be up to you, as the facilitator, to make judgment calls along the way. Looking at how you are doing on timing and how well the process is going you may choose to avoid the second breakout session and instead have that discussion in the combined-group setting.
  • This process may not work well if the inter-group/team dysfunctions have been going on for quite some time and the frustration levels are high. In such cases I would recommend that you prepare for the session by first doing a pre-session interview with all or most of the intended participants. That way you can prepare for the event having a clear understanding of the issues at hand and the mindsets of those that will be attending. This may cause you to choose for a more comprehensive intervention.
  • If more than one facilitator is involved, do make sure every facilitator is completely aware of how the process will work. This is especially important when you choose to make some changes along the way – i.e. skipping the 2nd breakout session in favor of a large group discussion on the same topic.  It can be quite frustrating for groups/teams when they receive mismatched instructions from different facilitators for the activity they are to complete.

Evaluate balance in life TEMPLATE

Some coaches I have met like to use a tool to help someone they coach look at his or her own life and how they are running their lives from a big picture perspective as opposed to just focusing on one specific aspect of someone’s life like their career success. A coach typically uses a tool like this one to help someone work on their values and how those priorities show up in their life choices or as a check-up maybe once a year to see how things are going in terms of having a balanced life. People dealing with signs of burn-out may also benefit from using this kind of tool with their coach to see where their lives may not be balanced or may not be a good reflection of their values or the aspects that they say are their highest priorities.

Evaluate Life tool resource link

The Evaluate Life tool can help facilitate the evaluation of one’s “life set-up” and discussions around having a balanced life – the importance thereof and how to achieve it through specific goal-setting in each area (named pizza-slices in the attachment). Sometimes people tell me that a specific area is not important to them and this may be best explored by their coaches. In my opinion a tool like this is most valuable to help create awareness around the importance of having a balanced life and to support subsequent goal-setting for improving specific areas of a life.

Interpreting the results from this kind of tool is best done with someone who has experience in this area – like a coach or a trained mentor or even someone with the right experience and background within the HR or Learning and Development departments.

Inbox Exercise Example

Inbox exercises are often used when there is an evaluation of leadership/management style and skills or training in time management, judgment or decision-making. I believe the value of this resource lies in revealing the thought processes of an exercise participant. While you can score the number of pages completed within the allotted time or how many of the actions aligned with what is deemed “correct” in your company (and desired company culture) the highest value (for me) is the coaching conversations that can be had around the reasons that the actions were chosen.

The attached Inbox Exercise  requires you to print out items and provide them to intended participants in the exercise. The first page describes the situation which you should share with the participant(s) of the exercise. The next two pages are for your eyes only and help you to understand the set-up and what you, as the facilitator, should do. The section that follows behind the “Worksheet” page is provided to participants once the Q and A portion of the instructions discussion is over.

Inbox Exercise resource link


  • If you choose to include priory setting as one of the test elements, consider using something like the Eisenhower/Covey matrix:

eisenhower covey priority box

You can read more about it here : Priority matrix write-up  If you decide to                  include priority-setting as an element, this  approach will give you a  better                  foundation for debriefing discussions.

  • You can use this exercise with a class of participants and then I would suggest you have each participant check the work of his/her neighbor once the exercise has been timed-out. Read out the action considered best for each of the incidents and assign a score for correct answers. Of course you can use your own judgment when some participants have similar answers/responses, but just worded it differently.
  • I prefer to use this with a small group of people who are in a coaching program. The results of their work can then be debriefed more fully with their coaches who can explore their responses deeper by asking questions around : how did they interpret the note/incident? Why did they choose that action? Did they consider other options? If so, which ones? How/why did they decide to select that particular action? How did the limited time impact their thinking and responses?

I am a firm believer in leaders learning through reflection. The hardest part about that for any leader is gaining awareness of his or her own style or impact or how to make something visible that is subconscious. Examples could be own motivations, unknown assumptions they make about their world and those they work with, how they really make decisions etc. Exercises like these can help by specifically tasking individuals with making decisions in a short time-frame which could increase pressure and therefore may highlight paradigm blind-spots.

Some Ice Breaker Questions

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Starting a meeting or dealing with the after-lunch session involving a group of people often requires that you use some sort of ice breaking exercise or activity to help participants get to know each other better, have some fun and in many cases move around the room a bit. Most facilitators have their own set of ice breaking activities and exercises in their mind in case they need it. If you are new at it, you may need some inspiration though.

Ice Breaker Questions resource link

This list of Ice Breaker Questions can be used to help you. You can do this in a few ways:

  1. Use it to start the meeting and incorporate the introductions and capture expectations at the same time. Ask each participant to share his/her name, location, role, expectations for the session/day and then answer one of the questions on the list. (There is a reason to ask them to share their answer to one of the questions AFTER they stated their expectations – so you have time to write down their expectations on a flip-chart before the next participant starts sharing)
  2. Use it at the start of the meeting. Ask participants to get up and introduce themselves to others sharing their answer to the question and asking the other person to share their answer. Let them mingle in this way for about 5 to 10 minutes (depending on the size of your group). Ask them to return to their seats and ask a volunteer (or a few) to share the most surprising response they heard.
  3. If the group is small (12 people or less). Ask each person to provide an answer to the question on a post-in note. Collect all of them. Read out the answer and have participants try to guess who responded in this way. (Rules for this exercise includes that the writer of the answer cannot participate in guessing who wrote it).
  4. If you have more time, you can do this: ask each participant to guess what others would answer to a question, and put it on a post-it note. [You can assign who should guess which other participant’s responses to ensure everyone in the room will be covered. I would not have anyone guess more than 3 responses or it will take a really long time to complete the activity.] Once everyone has guessed and wrote down their guesses, they start finding one of the people that they were assigned to guess a response for and discuss their guess with the other person. What did they guess and why? The other person shares his/her real answer to the question. Then they split and find the next person that they have guessed an answer for. Sometimes some waiting may be involved if none of the people are available for a discussion around the guessed response. When everyone has completed the conversations you can debrief the group with questions like: How often were you right in what you guessed the other person would say? Did you learn anything surprising from those you talked to ? (aspects of his/her personality that you had no idea about?) How accurate do you think guessing is when it comes to how other people think?

Ice breakers can be really effective in breaking down barriers to making contact with people you have never met before at a meeting or training event. Yes, extroverts mostly don’t have any difficulties approaching and talking to strangers, but introverts often do. These kinds of exercises help everyone to get to know each other without feeling too inhibited during the initial contact moments.

Problem Solving Template

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The most frustrating part of noticing that outcomes planned are not achieved is trying to figure out where exactly things are going wrong. Sometimes it could be an object or piece of equipment that is not working well. It could also be a process that is at fault or perhaps it is human action or inaction that is causing the lack of performance. The resource I am sharing helps one to work through the known facts about the lack of performance and what is generally known about the equipment, process or activities needed to make the planned outcomes materialize in a structured manner. This offers a better chance that the root cause leading to the lack of performance can be discovered.

The Problem Solving Template is MSWord format and consists of a table. The What, Where, When and How Big aspects are covered in column one and discovering the differences between what is known and observed vs known about how things should work is covered in the rest of the columns. The last column is an opportunity to reflect on what is written in the other columns, notice the differences between what is observed and what is known about how things should work to identify possible root causes for the lack of performance.

The Problem Solving Template link

It may seem tedious at first to complete the information indicated, but when the reasons or causes are less obvious this is a great way to summarize what you know about the situation in one place. We often know more than we realize and we simply need a way to put things together logically to spot the reasons behind a malfunctioning element in a failing piece of equipment or a process.

This tool can be used by an individual or in a group context. Sometimes it helps to have more than one person look at the same information and brainstorm through the elements shown in this template to get to the root cause(s). I also recommend that you retain a copy of this completed template to serve as a “lessons learned” to others.  I believe each one of us and every company/team should continuously strive to learn to remain competitive and innovative (creative). Others may be able to solve future issues by reviewing your completed sheet for the issue you solved.

How to set priorities in an action plan

After a survey, a brainstorming session or a discussion it is often true that you end up with a long list of actions that should be put into an action plan. With many actions, a small number of people available to execute on those actions while also doing their normal day jobs and possibly low funds available for some of the actions this could seem overwhelming.  At such a time it becomes really important that you are somehow able to prioritize the list of actions to focus your limited resources and funds on the most important actions. But which ones are more important than the others?

The Priority Setting resource I am sharing with you contains a section where you can enter all of the actions you have in the text column – simply replace the example statements I have there with your own actions. The next column is called Ease of Implementation. Consider how many people you would need to dedicate to an implementation, how long will it take? How much do you need to spend/invest in order to implement this action? If it will take a lot of people working intensively and it may cost a lot to invest – for example in buying expensive licences to a software package/system – then you should score that action closer to a 1 for this column. The harder it is to implement the lower the score should be. Your scores in this column should be between 1 and 5.

Priority Setting resource link.

The next column is called Impact Potential. This column requires a score for each action item in terms of how much will it improve your business or move you closer to achieving your strategies and business goals if you had this action completed? If the impact will be low then your score should be closer to 1. Low would mean that employees and customers would barely notice the difference after implementation. It could also mean you would not gain much strategic advantage, market share improvements, long-term positioning, synergies, major cost savings or any other business impact that would be noticeable. The scores in this column should be between 1 and 5.

The graph with dots will be generated automatically on the electronic worksheet after you have put in your actions and the scores as indicated. The numbers appearing next to the dots are the numbers that correlate with your list of actions. Use the graphic below that to interpret your score results and understand which actions you should prioritize over overs.

prioritising actions legend

If your dots appear in one of the yellow sections, you have some questions to ponder. If you can solve the question in each case you may be able to move that particular action into a different “zone” by changing the score. This means you are able to for example make it easier to implement by solving an issue which made it particularly difficult to implement. Or it could mean you realize the business impact is bigger than you previously realized because the company could gain a competitive edge if you implemented that particular action.  Your final action plan for immediate focus areas should contain those actions which finally end up in the green zone on the legend.

Be sure to communicate the reasoning behind your high priority actions to the key stakeholders in the outcomes of the action plan. They may have additional insights to share which could further cause you to change the scoring of actions.

You can use the Action Plan posted here to capture the actions that you will implement, monitor status of and report on regularly.