Games Index

Team Building Exercises

Basic Facilitation Guide for Training Using Team Building Exercises

James Neill
Last updated:
28 Oct 2006


Basic Facilitation Guide for Training Using Team Building Exercises

  • If you have Fun goals: if the goals are mainly "fun" it is often OK to just present the task and "see how it goes", making changes to the activity as you see fit

  • If you have Learning goals: if the goals are mainly "learning and development", then you open another can of worms! - consider more sophisticated design and sequencing of your program.  You may want to deepen your understanding of experiential learning principles and facilitation skills.

  • Create a Non-threatening environment: encourage a non-threatening social environment in which everyone feels welcome to participate (consider using warm-ups, icebreakers, and get-to-know-each other activities first).  Experiencing social support during a program has been found to be an important factor in determining outcomes (Neill & Dias, 2001).

  • Rules: explain the "rules and guidelines" clearly for the task; don't underestimate the importance of clear information in multiple formats to help an activity run smoothly; but the challenge is to present these rules in a nurturant, growth-promoting way, as opposed to autocratic, school marm style.

  • Framing/debriefing: consider whether to "frame" and/or "debrief" the activity (see facilitation & processing).  Framing is creating a story or scenario or metaphor around the activity.  The "frame" in many uses is selected to be isomorphic - that is, consistent with the back-home life.  So, a bucket of water may come to represent money (or love), for example.  The initiative task then comes to mean something quite different, as the money (or love) is handled and transported through various obstacles and challenges.  Debriefing refers to some form of discussion or "reviewing" of "what happened and what was learnt".  Debriefing is quite common, but not always recommended.  Sometimes it is better not to debrief and to move on to the next activity, or to approach the "review" more subtly, such as by casually initiating dicussion about a topic amongst different individuals.

  • Instructor effectiveness: be aware of the subtle ways which influence an instructor's effectiveness in experiential learning with groups.  Read more about "Group Facilitating & Processing in Experiential & Outdoor Education Training".