This article describes a bunch of tips and games I believe to be some of the most useful and effective team building activities for large groups.
Note, I said ‘effective.’ Anyone can stand before a large group and lead a program, but the advice I share here (in no particular order) will transform everyone’s experiences from a ho-hum time to a truly rewarding event.
You may ask, what’s so special about large groups anyway?
There are three primary reasons I love developing team skills in large groups:
- the sheer energy a big group commands is intoxicating,
- it’s easier for an individual to ‘hide’ in a large group so it can feel safer for some people to get involved, and
- large groups provide opportunities for me to collaborate with other leaders because more participants means more leaders.
Tips for Managing Large Group Activities
Just Start Playing
Don’t fluff about, get your group busy as soon as you can. I often leave my intro’s and name-knowing stuff until much later into the program. And if I’m still waiting for some folks to arrive, I frequently make use of the unofficial start to kick off proceedings.
Paired activities – those which require two people to play – are my most powerful tool when it comes to working with large groups. First of all, it’s hard to be left out of a pair, so it creates lots of ‘safety’ within a group. Lots of partnerships doing the same thing also makes for lots of energy. Also, presenting a series of paired-activities where you frequently invite people to swap partners creates lots of mixing and ice-breaking moments. Take a look at Getting Into Pairs for lots of pairing ideas.
Use Innovative Group-Splitting Exercises
When I was at school, I hated the typical “1, 2, 3, 4 …” count off, not to mention the dreaded ‘pick two captains’ scenario. These self-esteem crushing exercises are not fun and are not particularly good at creating random, fairly even groupings either. Commit to using a variety of innovative and fun methods to break your large group into smaller groups – take a look at Getting Into Teams for lots of ideas.
Get Their Attention
In my opinion, if you can’t be heard or generally fight to get the attention of your party, forget working with large groups. It’s just too hard. Or, if this is not an option, try some of my favourite attention getters. Some are more appropriate for young people than adults, but all equally effective.
Factor In More Of Everything
Large groups consume more of everything. Plan accordingly. The activities will take more time than you expect – allow at least an extra 20% than you would for ‘smaller’ groups. You will need more equipment especially if there is a risk of breakage or spillage, so have more on hand than you think is necessary. You will also need more people or leaders to help you be heard, control the crowd, distribute and gather things, etc.
Team Building Game Ideas for Large Groups
How big is a large group? It depends, of course, but I work on the basis of any group with 25 or more people.
Here are some of my favourite team-building activities for large groups which work with 25+ people, the more the merrier.
Click the links to access all of the step-by-step instructions you need to present these awesome teambuilding ideas. The video tutorials will help you know exactly what they look and sound like.
Ideal for programs you plan to lead outdoors. Divide into pairs, no props required.
One of the simplest and quickest team-building group initiatives I know. Most people arrive with all the props you need, ie their shoes. And on those occasions when your team members are located remotely, add this exercise to your repertoire of online teamwork games.
You’ll need to gather a bunch of resources, sufficient for all of the small teams you’ll need to make this challenge successful, but it will be worth it.
Another really simple, yet powerful group initiative for the sunny outdoors. No props required, just divide your group into smaller teams of 6 to 10 people and see what your group comes up with.
Distribute one playing card to every person in your group. Create small teams of 6 people and instruct them to use the face value of their cards to form an equation equalling twenty (20.)
One of the classic no-props group initiatives. Form a circle, turn sideways and slowly sit into the lap of your partner. When ready, check out some of the more challenging variations.
This simple, no props task is ideal for inspiring creativity and team interaction. Locate a wide-open space, nominate two opposing ends and get started.
You can search many more team building activities for large groups here.
Working with a Large Virtual Audience?
As mentioned above, many of these large group games & activities can be adapted for use with virtual team-building audiences.
Remember, it’s important to develop and nurture the relationships of your team at any time, and especially when they are unable to physically meet.