6 Easy Meeting Warmers!
As they paired off and headed to a space to talk, they started to look through their photos on their smart phones. For this warm up, each person needed to find a photo that was special to them and share the significance of it with their partner. The energy in the room shifted as people talked about a family member near and dear to them, a much loved animal, the latest holiday or a special moment with a friend. People laughed, some tears were shed and there was a warm glow in the room. It was a perfect transition to the next activity on our agenda, on a busy Tuesday morning.
As leaders, we are often looking for new ways to intro meetings and to warm people up for discussion and conversation. Often if it's early in the morning it can be challenging to get people into meaty discussions about serious issues.
These warm ups are all activities that I have engaged in myself as a participant, and I've tried with teams of people, so I know they work and they go down well with everyone, no matter what time of the day.
Here are six of my favourites...
First up ... Partner Up
A great way to partner people up for a quick talk or reflection is to use partner cards.
These are two cards that are an obvious match eg; Jack & Jill, Batman & Robin, Hansel & Gretel, Bonnie & Clyde etc... you get the idea.
Write up the pairs on individual cards
Place them face down on a table or the carpet
Have people select a card and find their match
It's quick and most often people end up with someone they wouldn't normally choose to partner up with.
My favourite images on cards for reflection activities are the ones from St Lukes Innovative Resources.
These cards are designed to evoke emotions and memories, therefore people connect with them easily and for different reasons.
People choose an image that best reflects how they feel about whatever it is you are wanting them to reflect upon.
Participants can share their card and thoughts with partners, in small circles or in one large group.
Also from St Lukes Innovative Resources, these cards each have a strength written on them and can be used in multiple ways. I recently used them with our team, asking them to select one that best represented the strength they see in themselves as classroom teachers.
I use a set of cards that I purchased from Kikki K called Ask Me A Question. The cards are a brilliant way to get people talking. They have different colours on the back so you can easily arrange for people to partner up first according to colour.
The cards have questions on them designed to get people talking.
They can be used on multiple occasions as the questions are unrelated to each other.
Another one of my favourite warm ups is a set of symbol cards. Also from St Lukes Innovative Resources.
As with the reflection and strength cards, people select a symbol that best represents how they feel about ... whatever it is you ask them to reflect on.
I've seen this done once before and it was brilliant. It does take a bit longer than the warm ups above but is worth it if you have the time. It requires getting your hands on two long pieces of rope. Have the group work the ropes into the shape of the country they live in. In this case, we had two ropes and we formed the outline of New Zealand. Each person then writes their favourite town/city on a post-it-note and they place it down on the map. Each person then takes their turn sharing what their favourite place is and why.
A fun warm up to get brain juices flowing is to partner people up (or threes can work) and they have to come up with as many commonalities that they share, that they can think of. Each pair or team can race each other to get the most.
All of these warm ups can be so powerful and effective. It never ceases to amaze me how insightful people are about themselves and their journey. It is an opportunity to get to know each other (with people you wouldn't ordinarily partner up with ) in a fun, interactive and non-threatening way.