Engaging a group is an artform. But it’s also something you can learn to do without taking years of practice. The reason so many people struggle to grab the attention of a group is because they use failed methodologies.
Break out of that habit by trying these four fun and simple ways to heighten group engagement.
Games That Actually Get People to Learn About Each Other
A lot of people won’t be thrilled when you say it’s time to play a game. You can’t blame them for this, though. Oftentimes, these are corny, poorly executed, and don’t provide any sort of value beyond wasting time. Choosing an engaging game depends on the group itself. Age of members, size of group, and context are all key considerations.
The game This or That can work well for a small or medium-sized group. Participants are given a choice between two things—such as chocolate or vanilla. They then move to opposite sides of the room based on their preference and say why they prefer that to the other option.
Of course, you’ll want to make some of the dichotomies more relevant to the group than food preferences (a common icebreaker. For larger groups, try a version of Jeopardy tailored to your specific context. Entice people to answer by offering various prizes—some serious and some silly.
Do Icebreakers (The Right Way)
Icebreakers have gained a reputation for being awkward and unfun. This is because they often fail on two major counts. They make people uncomfortable and they lack real engagement. Icebreakers are designed for groups of people who don’t know each other well. Chances are, many of those people are already feeling nervous. You need to take this into consideration by making sure your icebreakers avoid physical contact, overly personal information, or calling people out.
If you want to do an icebreaker the right way, you need to ensure participants are getting value from it. Don’t force people to play along with your icebreaker unless you take the time to make it worthwhile. Creating a poll or survey is one of the best ways to go about this.
It’s easy to get a group engaged when you present them with interactive material. You can incorporate fun icebreaker questions into the survey to get people interested in what’s happening. Poll Everywhere offers useful tools for creating polls that participants can access from their smartphones. These can even be made anonymous to encourage responses to questions where people might not want to reveal their identities.
Solve a Problem
Few things bring people closer than solving a problem. Whether it’s making a groundbreaking discovery, or just putting together a jigsaw puzzle, we’re designed to find solutions. Use this to your advantage when you’re trying to boost group engagement. Allowing a group to work together in its own way is one of the best ways for people to learn about each other. Some people will have different strengths, which will come out more fully when assigned with a real problem.
It’s important you strike a balance between making the problem too easy, which will bore participants, and too hard. You want people to be challenged, but not get to the point of frustration.
Find Novel Forms of Collaboration
If you’re really trying to wow a group, come up with some completely different ways of getting them engaged. Some people will get excited if you give them the chance to play with a new form of technology. Others might respond well to an introductory minute of meditative silence.
Consider making a Google Doc where the group creates a collaborative story. Each person gets two minutes to write, edit, or erase as much as they want. It’s important to know a little bit about the group ahead of time to engage them in the best possible way.
Things are just better when a group is engaged. It’s easy to present information to them; and members of the group feel like they get more from the experience. Consider these ideas next time you’re trying to foster fun forms of group engagement.