Why Make Team-Building A Part Of Your Retreat

What do you think of when you see the words team building?  My mind immediately goes to a trust fall…that’s the olde standby activity in most organizations.

I recently read a story about an NFL coach surprising his players with a bowling trip.  He used this time to build camaraderie between his players.  They’re a literal team.  The offensive line has to block for the quarterback.  The line backer has to support the defensive line.  You can see how those pieces come together.

Most organizations are not football teams but need similar team-building exercises.  Why?  Here are four reasons.

  1. Gets you out of your comfort zone. I’ve worked in big organizations and little organizations. When we’ve done a large group team-building exercise, I was forced to work with people inside the organization I didn’t know. This can be a great thing as it can lead to other collaborative ideas.
  2. Relationship building. This can relate to the first reason, because even in the same department, you may not know the person working in the cubicle next door.
  3. Allows you to see your co-workers in a different light. We always put up our work fronts. We probably don’t know it, but these fronts come up when we go to church or conferences. These team-building exercises allow these fronts to come down.
  4. Sometimes you need a reason to get out of the office. When I worked in a big organization, our department always took some time once a quarter to get out of the office. We went bowling or to the batting cages. Not much of a big deal, but it was great to laugh and get rid of that extra stress.

Do you find including team-building exercises as part of your event are important?  Why?  And what are some team-building exercises that you’ve used?

About the Author:  I am currently an artist manager for Michael Smith and Associates.  I work with promoters and event planners to coordinate their concerts that feature our acts.  I’ve been in the CCM business since I was in 8th grade having worked at a Christian bookstore and then Word Entertainment.  I’m also a drummer and attend ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin, TN.  My wife, Caron, and I have one daughter, Molly Cate.  Most importantly, I’m an Apple fan. Follow me on Twitter: @KyleBJohnson

Icebreakers Are Just For Kids, Right?

When I think of icebreakers, I think of entertainingly silly games for kids to become instant friends…or at least get to know each other a little bit. But what about adults? Sure, some adults (like me) would be totally content playing child-like games, but they wouldn’t match up with some events and groups of attendees. Here are a 3 non-embarrassing adult activities to use as icebreakers for a larger crowd of about 40 or more attendees.

  1. People bingo. This is a pretty popular icebreaker; I’m almost positive I’ve played this at some point in my life. The idea is for everyone to have a bingo card, and instead of written numbers in the middle of each box like regular bingo, the text would read, “Has three kids,” “Owns a beach house,” or, “Loves country music.” The text should be common enough that it describes a few people in the group, but not common enough that it describes most. Each person has to go around the room and find a person who matches up with the text, then have them initial the square. The catch is that one person can only sign one box, so everyone must talk to a bunch of people! You can even give the winner a small prize at the end, so they’re a little more enticed to really play the game.
  2. “Communality test.” This is another icebreaker that starts in small groups, but this is teeny groups of two. These two people need to find one not-so-obvious common trait. Then, go into groups of four and find a trait all four of them share. Then, eight. Continue that until the entire group has to find something they have in common. Since your group might be too large for that last step, you could go up to 16 or so, then switch up all the groups and start from the beginning. After this icebreaker, everyone will know a bunch of random facts about everyone else.

And here are a couple for a group of less than 40 attendees:

  1. Any “question of the day.” If you have a smaller group, posing a question that could have many possible answers is one way to know people better.  Some example questions are: What would you do with a million dollars? Who is your idol? What is your favorite quote? What is one thing you would you change about the world? If time allows, get a conversation going about some of the answers. Sharing this type of information (and having these discussions) will make it easier to connect during the rest of the event.
  2. Any sport. Depending on the age range (and athletic abilities) of your attendees, there are quite a few sports you could play, that easily make people trust each other and rely on each other. Some include kickball, beach ball, volleyball, and even tug of war. Is tug of war even considered a sport? I think it should be! Having to work together as a team will bring people together pretty quickly.

Have you ever tried these icebreakers, what do you do to help people connect at your events?

3 Ways To Ensure Positive Team Building

Planning an effective team building retreat can be a daunting task.  Organizing activities to foster creativity and group participation to generate new ideas is tough. Here are  3 ideas to keep in mind while leading any team building event to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved.

Build Trust – Trust is a huge part of life, no matter if you’re at work or at home. If you don’t have trust, communication and collaboration will also be nonexistent. If some people aren’t participating, or they’re getting their few ideas shot down, it’s going to be hard for them to trust the group. Keep an eye out for this and remind them how it’s done!

Increase Communication– Communication is a huge piece of team building, and also a giant part of any group work. The fact that everyone understands what is going on, who is in charge of what, what the exact goals are, and what steps to take to get there, is crucial. As the “boss” or “planner,” talk to your groups, be available to listen to their comments, and invite questions from staff, coworkers, and other guests.

Boost Collaboration –Some people work best when collaborating with others, while others excel working alone with little to no outside help. If you’re having a corporate team building retreat, or any kind of retreat that focuses on team building, a lot of independence needs be left at the metaphorical door. Team building is all about learning together, growing together, and working together. While conducting your team building strategies, keep an eye on people who are trying to take over the conversation or group, and encourage everyone to participate.

Keeping these 3 ideas in mind during team building activities will ensure positive results.

How have you implemented these ideas with  your team?

3 Tips to Make First Time Attendees Feel Welcome

Remember the first time you went to an annual event or large conference. A little nerve-racking, wasn’t it? That’s probably how your first time attendees are going to feel. A little lost, a little confused, a little nervous, a little anxious and obviously a whole lot excited. Here are a few tips to keep these awesome people calm and happy.

Have a welcome session. The night before a weekend conference, or the first 30-60 minutes of an event, you could have a meet-up with the newcomers explaining the goals of the event, reassuring them about any concerns, and pushing them to talk to one another. You can explain a little bit about networking and how to really maximize the number of contacts you make. Having a small group and talking to them directly will help them feel more comfortable and content.

Give first time attendees a “newbie nametag.” When someone is a first time attendee, it’s normal for them to be shy during networking sessions and be nervous to start up a conversation. Having them wear a different name tag (maybe a nametag of a different color, or that has a special “first time attendee” ribbon on it) will encourage other veteran guests to talk to them and make them feel more comfortable.

Have a welcome booth. I think you could either do a welcome session or a welcome booth. At most conferences, there is a general welcome booth where you sign in, and get your name tag, schedule for the day/weekend/week, and any other tools normally handed out before the event. A newcomer welcome booth could have all of that, plus an extra bag of goodies comprised of important conference essentials: the “newbie nametag,” a notebook and pen (even if not supplied to everyone else), a pamphlet about the company, literature on networking, and anything else you can think of.

Be creative and help your first time attendees as much as you can. After all, they are an important part of your conference!

Resources – June Update

Here at Ministry Serving Ministry, we are constantly on the lookout for content we believe may be helpful to our readers.  Here is what we’ve added in June by category to our resources.


Understanding Generational Differences – The Key to Attracting, Motivating and Retaining Your Workforce…

Planning a Women’s Retreat and Can’t Think of a Theme? –  There are dozens and dozens to choose from right here…

Site Selection

Safety First – Safety and security planning has long been a hot topic in the meetings and convention industry…


The Great Shift – Meetings, no matter at what level, have a major influence on government, business and organizations…

Teambuilding:  Its Important Role in Stressful Times – When I mention I’m passionate about teambuilding the eyes roll, or look away…

Meeting Planners

Principles of Professionalism – meetings management and meeting professionals under a microscope…

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

3 Tips to Creating an Unforgettable Event

Here’s a hypothetical but semi-normal situation: John, who just arrived home from an event, was just asked by his wife, “So how was it?”

John’s response could go one of two ways. “Oh, it was just another normal event. What’s for dinner?”  Or,  “It was SO awesome. You gotta see these pictures I took. This photo is the speaker who we all went to dinner with on the second day. Oh, and this was the surprise hike we all went on. Seriously, it was a blast.”

The first response reminds me of some normal ole’ business meeting. The second? A real experience of an event that could change an attendee’s life. Now, isn’t it obvious which you’d rather have?

Here are 3 tips on how to turn your event into an unforgettable experience:

  1. Know Your Guests
    This is the most essential aspect of creating an experience instead of just an event. I could just stop here, and it would almost be enough. But I won’t!  Instead of spending time and money on what you think attendees might want, spend time and money on what you know they want. Conduct an Internet poll before the conference to learn a little more about your guests. Maybe you think speakers should have more time than group discussions, but your attendees want the opposite. Maybe you think a quick lunch in the conference area would be best, but you learn that a longer, outdoor lunch is preferable. Even if you don’t do a poll, really put yourself in your attendees’ shoes with every decision you make.
  2. Have Enough Free Time
    Free time in between speakers (or workshops or whatever else is going on during the day) is needed for self-reflection, networking, and relaxing attendees’ brains. I don’t think a poll is needed to prove this one; giving your guests free time and making them feel relaxed instead of rushed will help them learn and be grateful for attending. Oh, and networking and making friends will absolutely help the event be even more memorable.
  3. Engage
    Engaging doesn’t just mean getting your attendees involved, but it also means making them feel important. There’s a difference between, “I went to an event and learned a lot,” and, “I feel like that event really spoke to me.” Having choices, having fun, and having unique opportunities will engage your guests much more than a routine, average conference.

What else helps make an event memorable?

Great Staff Retreats = Great Organizations!

Staff Retreats are great opportunities to take a look back, plan for the future and continue growth in an organization as well as create a stronger team.

Organizing a retreat is a big responsibility. Here are some ideas to make your retreat a success.

  • Select your site with care. The best way to reduce distractions is to host your retreat away from your organization.
  • Distribute your vision for the organization with a list of objectives and issues for the retreat ahead of time to give your team plenty of time to prepare and get their creativity flowing.
  • For larger organizations, involving others in the planning process is a great way to develop future leaders.
  • Don’t do all the talking, encourage everyone to participate.
  • Include some fun activities to encourage bonding as a team and a celebration at the end.
  • Allow enough time between activities for discussion.

Staff Retreats can give a powerful boost to the spirit and effectiveness of any group.