If you are running a meeting or group training workshop you probably have your favorite group activities that prove to be effective over and over again, and they work well when you have a regular group size of 10 to 25 people. But what if you need to run a session where you have many more participants? Group activities that are easy to run with small groups might not work for larger teams. Large group games are often very different to games and ice breakers for smaller teams. With very large groups, it gets harder to involve everyone in the conversation, so you need group activities that can be scaled up to a hundred or more people and still produce results effectively.
If you want to direct the focus of this group activity to certain areas, then you can instruct people to which question to answer in each segment of the Coat of Arms. What is something you are very good at? When people are finished drawing, they present their work to in their group.
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The presentation part is practical to do in smaller groups. And whether you have a small or large group, you can arrange a neat Coat of Arms gallery by sticking all the drawings on the wall of the workshop room. Large group games where participants have something to show at the end can be especially effective and can really set the stage for a productive, interactive workshop. In eighteen minutes, teams of people must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow.
The marshmallow needs to be on top. Since the instructions are fairly simple, it is easy to scale this activity up to groups playing in parallel and competing who builds the highest structure. It emphasizes collaboration, group communication, leadership dynamics and problem-solving strategy - everything you want in your large group games. Also, there are marshmallows. All group activities are better with marshmallows! In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow.
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The Marshmallow Challenge was developed by Tom Wujec, who has done the activity with hundreds of groups around the world.
Visit the Marshmallow Challenge website for more information. This version has an extra debriefing question added with sample questions focusing on roles within the team.
The Helium stick group activity gives a simple challenge to teams that require teamwork and coordination to manage. People are lined up in two rows facing each other, 5 to 10 people per row, depending on the length of the sticks you have for the game. Participants point with their index finger and hold their arms out in a way that a stick can be horizontally laid on their index fingers.
Why Helium Stick?
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You can easily scale this activity for larger groups, just have as many sticks as the number of lines you will create, and the sub-groups will compete against each other who manages to lower their stick first.
A great and simple activity for fostering teamwork and problem solving with no setup beforehand. Large group games are undeniably effective at getting things rolling, and fun group activities are essential for getting a team engaged, but what if you need to go deeper?
There are dedicated facilitation methods that work really effectively if you need certain conversations to happen in large groups. The techniques below can be used as core group activities for planning and facilitating large group workshops. They tend to have only a few guiding principles and rules, which allows smaller groups to organize and manage themselves during a workshop.
Open Space Technology - developed by Harrison Owen - is a method perfectly suited for organizing and running large scale meetings, often multi-day events, where participants self-organize themselves to find solutions for a complex issue.
There are only a few rules guiding the structure of the event, and the agenda is created by the people attending. It is a great method for tacking important and complex problems where the solutions are not obvious. The technology can accommodate hundreds of people.
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Open space group activities can be incredibly productive, though remember that there is a degree of self-determination here, and the individual groups in the open space are only as good as their members and the set-up of the open space.
When people must tackle a common complex challenge, you can release their inherent creativity and leadership as well as their capacity to self-organize. Open Space makes it possible to include everybody in constructing agendas and addressing issues that are important to them.
Having co-created the agenda and free to follow their passion, people will take responsibility very quickly for solving problems and moving into action.
Letting go of central control i. You can use Open Space with groups as large as a couple of thousand people! Facilitators create a cafe-style space and provide simple guidelines for the groups of people to discuss different topics at different tables.
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The structure of this method enables meaningful conversations driven completely by participants and the topics that they find relevant and important. World Cafe works great when slightly informal, with a relaxed cafe-style atmosphere. Group activities like this benefit from the setting of the right tone - make sure to get this right before you begin! Facilitators create a cafe-style space and provide simple guidelines.
Participants then self-organize and explore a set of relevant topics or questions for conversation. So, here the group members do not switch tables, but participate in four rounds of conversation with taking different approaches to exchange opinions and discuss the same topic in depth.
This more focused group activity format helps to build trust and connection between group members and therefore well-suited to handle controversial or difficult topics among diverse participants.
Again this method is very practical when dealing with large groups by setting up parallel discussion groups. The classic - and often ineffective - shout-out type of brainstorming session has a natural limitation when it comes to large groups. However, there are other methods that provide a structured way to get people into creative thinking and elicit innovative ideas from everyone in the room even if you have dozens of participants.
Remember that workshop activities should not be limited to large group games.
Tailor your agenda to your group and the purpose of the workshop or training session so that you have the right mix of group activities and group games. This is an idea generation method that is really easy to scale into large groups, yet still allows every participant to actively take part in the process.
You split the audience into groups of four, share the challenge or question that people should focus on, then kick off the following sequence of activities in the parallel groups: at first, silent self-reflection by individuals, then generate ideas in pairs, and then share and develop further the ideas in the circle of four people.
At the end of the process, the best ideas from each group should be shared with the whole audience. Group activities that encourage deep participation from all of the participants are often those that are most effective.
Work to include a mix of workshop activities to get the whole group involved and engaged. With this facilitation technique you can immediately include everyone regardless of how large the group is. You can generate better ideas and more of them faster than ever before. You can tap the know-how and imagination that is distributed widely in places not known in advance.
Open, generative conversation unfolds.
Ideas and solutions are sifted in rapid fashion. Most importantly, participants own the ideas, so follow-up and implementation is simplified.
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No buy-in strategies needed! Simple and elegant! The following workshop activities will help you to prioritize the most promising ideas with a large group and select up with the best actions and goals to execute.
Team Bonding Games - The Characteristic Game #5
Having fun in large group games is great for team building and has value in itself, but without decision making and follow-up actions, a workshop might not be as valuable as it could be. Include group games and group activities that help the group come to informed, inclusive decisions so that you spend your time most effectively. Every participant receives a set of colourful sticky dots and they place them next to the ideas they find best - the ideas need to be written on post-its or on a board before the voting starts.
There are different variations: you may give multiple dots to people and they can choose how many dots they assign to each option they like. This tools quickly helps a group to recognise - without spending time on discussions - which options are the most popular. Using group activities which are time efficient can help ensure you cover everything in your agenda.
One thing to watch out for is the group bias, though: The more voting dot an option collects during the process, the more appealing it may become to get further votes from the participants who still have to assign their dots. For this reason, it is wise to use dot-voting not as a final instrument to select the best option, but as an indicator of which few options are the most popular.
Dotmocracy is a simple method for group prioritization or decision-making. It is not an activity on its own, but a method to use in processes where prioritization or decision-making is the aim.
The method supports a group to quickly see which options are most popular or relevant. The options or ideas are written on post-its and stuck up on a wall for the whole group to see. Each person votes for the options they think are the strongest, and that information is used to inform a decision.
So you opened your workshop with large group games that were fun and inclusive, and then included group activities that got the group talking and make important decisions.
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How then, should you finish the day? What group activities help a team reflect and come away from a workshop with a sense of accomplishment?
The below facilitation techniques will help to effectively close a large group session.
Hobbies such as toy-making, weaving, landscape painting and pottery-making are even more enjoyable when you share them with others. Classes are offered in craft, knit, or sewing shops, adult schools, senior centers, art schools and community colleges.
You might consider supplementing your income by selling your hand-crafted items in senior arts and crafts fairs. You can find many of these classes at local hobby or craft stores. You may not want to run a marathon, but you can still benefit from breaking a sweat.
Even if you've never been very active, considering joining a gym for seniors. People over 50 like to work out with people their own age because they have similar fitness goals. Gyms are a great place for older people who care about their health to meet and work out together.
New cultures, exotic vistas, delicious cuisine and new friends and companions can all be yours with the help of travel clubs and organizations that cater to the interests and needs of older people. You can participate in small-group adventures, network with solo travelers or look into volunteering overseas.
Contact local travel agents to see what travel plans are geared toward seniors. There might also be travel opportunities with local senior groups or community centers.
Taking college courses helps you learn new things and meet other singles. Many college campuses offer community courses, such as in art, psychology or other fields, that are free to adults in the surrounding area, including seniors.
You'll have a chance not only to acquire new skills and information, but also meet people who are in a similar point in life as you.