5 ways to keep your team energised

Have you ever been in a workshop where the energy was nowhere to be found? Where as a facilitator you just didn’t know what to do? Well not anymore, because with these tips for energisers you will always have a trick up your sleeve.

What are energisers

Energisers are short, often goofy exercises, to invigorate participants in a creative session. They can help to break the ice, get everybody back in focus and keep spirits up. They are mostly used in time-framed design exercises such as brainstorms, creative sessions and design sprints.

Where’s the energy!?

Why you should use energisers

There are different reasons why you should use energisers:

  • To energize and enthuse
    As the name already indicates; energisers can be used to increase the energy and enthusiasm levels before, during or after a creative session. Besides being most often fun and resourceful, working in teams can also be an exhausting, intensive and draining activity. When you have the idea that your team suffers from an after dinner dip or that some of the participants in a creative session are losing their concentration an energiser can help you to get back on track.
  • To loosen up
    Like sports, a warming up is key to get a creative session going. Creative thinking requires a specific state of mind and a no judgement mentality that functions better when it is practiced before. Energisers can be used to loosen up participants who don’t feel comfortable with thinking outside the box.
  • To step-up to certain activities
    Sometimes participants of a brainstorm or creative sessions are not familiar with the methods used. When these are centred around using a specific tool or technique an energiser could help to get everybody ready for the main part of the session. If a brainstorm for example requires everybody to sketch, a sketching energiser could help to take away first drawing fears of novices.
  • To break the ice
    When you organise a session with people who don’t know each other well or who are uncomfortable with discussing a specific subject, energisers could help to clear the air and avoid first awkward moments. Keep in mind that as a facilitator your main goal of an ice breaker is to let the participants get to know each other and make them feel at easy with the group. Letting them speak up for the first time during an energiser could also help to lower the threshold to take part of discussions later on.

Who do you need

  1. One facilitator (this person will also take part in the energiser)
  2. Workshop team
Pick the right energiser

How to pick the right energiser

There are tons of different exercises. A simple google search could give you hundreds of different exercises. However, spending some time to find the right energiser could be incredible beneficial for your creative session. Main questions to keep in mind are:

  • What do I want to establish with this energiser? (Focus, energy, breaking the ice, introduce a technique, introduce a mind-set, introduce a problem).
  • Who are the participants? (Open minded, formal, young).
  • How much time do I want the energiser to take? (1 min, 5 mins)
  • Where will the energiser take place? (outside, inside a busy office)

Our top 5 energisers

Below you can find a selection of energisers, but be sure to check out some of the links on the bottom of this page for unlimited energising inspiration.

Paper elephant

1 Paper Elephant

If you want the workshop team to get familiar with creating and presenting something in front of the group, the paper elephant is perfect! The results will be received without prejudice or judgment from the others, because nobody will be an expert in doing this.

What do you need?

  • A4 sheets of paper, every participant gets one

Step-by-step

  • Arrange participants in a circle.
  • Give each participants a piece of paper and have them hold it behind their back.
  • Tear this piece of paper into the shape of an elephant
  • Simultaneously reveal your work and look at what you have created.
Do the opposite

2 Do the opposite

After the team has been really focussed on the workshop, you might want to energise them physically. This activity does exactly that. It also helps getting participants into creative thinking as they have to come quickly with responses to the facilitator’s commands.

What do you need?

  • All team members

Step-by-step

  • Ask all participants to gather and do the opposite of what you are saying.
  • Shout a command; e.g. raise your left arm (the participants should do the opposite).
  • Shout a new command. Note: It won’t always be clear what the opposite is, there is no right or wrong.
Collaborative face drawing

3 Collaborative face drawing

This energiser works best as an ice-breaker as it stimulates one-on-one interactions between team members. It also helps to get warmed up for drawing. The walking in between serves as a physical energiser.

What do you need?

  • A4 paper, every participant gets one
  • Coloured pencils/markers

Step-by-step

  • Give each participant an A4 paper and a pencil/marker.
  • Instruct the participants to write their name on the bottom of the paper.
  • Ask everyone to walk randomly in the room until you say the word stop.
  • Each person should pair up with someone near by (try to find a new person each time if possible.
  • Instruct the pair to exchange the papers.
  • Everyone should draw the other person’s eyes.
  • Instruct the pairs to exchange the papers again (now each person will receive the paper with their name again).
  • Repeat steps 3 to 7 for all face parts (eyes, nose, ears, chin, hair, and accessories).
Topic ball

4 Topic ball

This activity brings the participants back to focus and it requires them to be creative. It also helps getting every person to speak.

What do you need?

  • A (soft) small ball

Step-by-step

  • Arrange all participants in a circle.
  • Choose a topic (e.g. names from the people from your office, UI elements, zoo animals).
  • Throw the ball around in high speed.
  • The one who catches the ball has to come up with a word from the chosen topic.
  • Continue the exercise until everyone has had a chance to speak.
Holy banana circle

5 Holy Banana Circle

This energiser is mostly fun, but also meant as physically energising.

What do you need?

  • One banana

Step-by-step

  • Arrange all participants in a circle.
  • Declare the banana holy and ask all participants to lay down on their back.
  • Place the banana between your feet in the air.
  • Try to give the banana with your feet to the next person.
  • Try to finish the round without letting the banana hit the ground.

Some tips & tricks

  • As a facilitator be confident in your execution. Act like you always done it this way even if it is the first time using the energiser.
  • Normally you would explain an activity before executing it. When it comes to energisers do the exact opposite; just explain as you go.
  • An energiser shouldn’t take up a lot of time, so keep it brief.

There’s the energy!

After you’ve done an energizer you will notice the team is ready to focus again. They will have some new energy which will also help them to come up with new ideas.

For even more inspiration, check out this extensive list of energisers: http://www.funretrospectives.com/category/energizer/

Which energiser is your favourite? Let us know!