A friend of mine works for a fortune 500 company. He describes his team meetings as “death by powerpoint.” He laments the lack of energy in the meetings and the waste of thousands of dollars in lost productivity. Are you looking for a way to put energy in to your meetings? Here are five sure-fire ways to get participants engaged. These exercises can also be used periodically during longer meetings to break up the routine and allow participants to get up and move around.

1. Stamp, clap, snap: Participants face each other in pairs. Instructions: “We’re going to count from one to three at the same time, one number at a time. Keep repeating this and stay with the group.” Once they get this, saying the number ‘one’ is replaced with a `stamp` (stamp your foot). When everyone is on task, replace the `two` as well, with a handclap. Finally, we replace the `three` with a snap of the finger. Once everyone is stamp, clap, snapping without speaking, get the group to begin speeding up. Play at high speed! Outcome: Everybody is up and active. The event ends with laughter.

2. Concentration: All participants stand in a circle and number them sequentially, starting with a random participant. The participants then establish a rhythm, by swinging their left hands out and back. Have participant #1 start; when her arm is up she “throws” out a number by shouting it out on beat. The participant with that number needs to throw another members number on the next beat. This must be random and cannot be the person standing on either side. Participants who do not respond (if they did not recognize their own number) or break the rhythm become the last numbered participant in the circle. That changes the numbers for some of the participants. Restart with participant one. Outcome: This gets everyone energized, active and in the moment, and takes some team work as well.

3. Figure Eights: Everybody stands relaxed, scattered around the room. Ask the participants to gently make a figure `8` movement with their left foot, then left calf, then whole left leg. Repeat with right toe/foot/leg. Repeat with left index finger, left hand, left lower arm, left arm. Repeat with right hand/finger/arm. Make 8-shaped movements with your pelvis. Ditto for left shoulder, right shoulder, both shoulders. Ditto for your head. . Try both arms. Switch directions. End exercise by making eights simultaneously with as many parts of your body as possible. Outcome: Excellent game to warm up those muscles tired from sitting so long. The group will usually laugh while trying to follow instructions and watching each other. (Probably a good time to keep iPhones pocketed).

4. Order: Have the participants begin randomly milling about the room. Instructions: “Please line up, according to ___________.” Examples are:
· order by age
· order by height
· order by mental health
· order by number of ex-boyfriends/girlfriends
· order by blue
Keep the silly criteria (order by blue) till the end. Outcome: Usually, the participants will start realizing that it doesn’t really matter what the order is, as long as the group agrees on the order. Nice warm-up exercise to help the participants function as a team.

5. Name, Number, Letter: Everyone stands in a large circle. Start by `giving` your neighbor your name. Just lift your right arm and say your name to the person to your right. He does the same to the person to his right, and names run around the circle. Then do the same with the letters of the alphabet. Give an `a` to your neighbor, making a `giving` gesture with your right hand. Your neighbor continues by passing a `b` to his neighbor, and so on. Then do this with the numbers 1 to the total number in the group. When everyone’s got this, try all of it at the same time. Start by passing your name, and as soon as the name thing has advanced 2 or 3 participants across the circle, set the alphabet in motion, and then the sequential numbers. Outcomes: Warm-up game that is helpful for getting to know each other’s names. Also interesting is how much gets lost - does everything you set in motion eventually get back to you or not?

6. Samurai Warrior: This is an excellent physical warm up. All participants stand in a circle. One participant is the Samurai - she starts by lifting her Katana (sword), making a Samurai-sounding grunt. She keeps her sword up in the air, and her 2 neighbors "slaughter" her, by swinging their swords into her sides, again grunting enthusiastically and grunting loudly. When the neighbors retract their swords, the Samurai lowers her sword; while doing this she makes eye contact with another participant, who then becomes Samurai, and everything starts all over again. Start slowly, and then increase the tempo. Outcomes: This silly exercise creates focus and laughter. All participants must pay attention for the eye contact which signals who is next to play and it also allows everyone to see the humorous facial expressions of the mock battle.

Author's Bio: 

Richard Highsmith, rick@qualityteambuilding.com, is President of Quality Team Building. He has twenty-five years experience training and coaching. He has built and sold two successful businesses. To learn more about becoming a team leader visit our website at http://www.qualityteambuilding.com