5 Secrets to using energisers in your sales meetings

You’ve all been there before. “OK everyone, we going to start the day off with an icebreaker”. Groan, moan…

If used correctly, energisers, ice breakers, team games…whatever you want to call them… can bring fabulous value to your event and can even allow further learning as well as the more traditional energising benefits.

Here are 5 secrets to using them correctly.

Sell them to the group

Everyone needs a reason to do anything and super trainers are constantly selling or motivating their groups to learn and move onto the next part of their programme.  Energisers need even more selling.  The reason is that people have built in barriers towards energisers mainly due to their past experience and pre-conceptions.  So how do we get around this, I’ll explain.

There’s a golden rule in selling when it comes to overcoming objections and this is to pre-empt the objection by building some patter in your sales presentation to eliminate the concern before it rears its head.

The same when selling the energiser. Clarify that the next 10 minutes will not only be beneficial to your energy levels and you getting to know the group, but I’ve built in some key messages to enable you to learn the key benefits of motivation or the 5 steps to cold calling, or whatever you’re teaching them.

Connect to the subject in mind

Always choose an energiser that links to the subject in mind. However tentative the link, it doesn’t really matter so long as the group get some value from the activity and not just ran around the room having a good time.

This is particularly important for pragmatist learners and learners high up the “food chain” in the organisation. Also describe that the active nature of the exercise will help them to learn.

Don’t even call them energisers or icebreakers as these have negative associations for many people, call it an activity designed to learn the topic.

Treat them like chocolate

My 14 year old son adores chocolate, laps it up and gorges on it whenever he has the opportunity. But even he can overdo it.  Chocolate is tasty and fulfilling but too much of it will make you sick, just ask my son.

In the same way, too many energisers can make the group sick.  Not physically, although this can happen, but mentally  sick and tired of too many gimmicks.  Beware the chocolate connection.

Use them to transition

Microsoft have been heavily criticised over the years for their PowerPoint software programme which some people adopt with all the bells and whistles available. They have text coming in from all over the place, sounds and ugly transitions between slides. But good PowerPoint users keep consistency in their transitions so the audience know when you’re moving onto another topic. And good presenters always announce or signpost when they’re transitioning.

In the same way you can use carefully thought through energisers to transition your topics. Perhaps choosing energisers that summarise key learnings at the end of a session or introduce key aspects at the beginning of the session.  Energisers work well in this cause and provide consistency of approach.

Be clear of your aim

I’ve seen energisers being used at conferences or seminars where the trainer has obviously lifted the latest one from their book “101 Icebreakers” and have chosen it for no other reason than they liked it. That’s fine but unfortunately why they have such a bad reputation from business audiences. I’ll show you what I mean.

If you carefully think through what you’re trying to do with your group first, then choose an appropriate energiser, this strategy will help you achieve your aims of the entire day not just a spare 20 minutes of down-time or a filler after lunch.

By aims I mean, do you want the group to:

  1. Be more energised physically?
  2. Have their brains warmed up?
  3. Slow them down for some intensive learning?
  4. Individually energise them?

If we plot this on a good old fashioned management style graph we’ll end up with this.

energisergraphicYou can see that the vertical line shows a low or high physical activity which I’ve called physicability, in other words how physical is the activity, a dial between using the brain or using the body.  The horizontal, details a low or high amount of energising or energability.  Do you want them to be energised or the opposite?

A low physical and low energising activity will slow the group down.  This might be appropriate if they are just too wild.  Most of my audiences are sales groups who naturally have a tendency to get overheated and sometimes we just need to calm them down for some serious learning or a sober message. An individual activity such as a serious and intelligent quiz where they write the answers down and pass to their neighbour for marking.  You could link the questions to the subject, why not, or some other challenging quiz.

A low energy, high physical will give your group a slow burn.  Nothing too adventurous but enough just to warm the group up a little. Your activity will be in teams and will involve some physical challenge but not too energetic such as the nail activity that gets them to stack as many 3 inch nails on top of one nail hammered into a piece of wood.

Moving over to high energising ability, you might want to ignite the brains of individuals not necessarily their bodies.  Here you will opt for the high energising but low on physical such as the 10 Question Brit Quiz or the Premiership Football quiz, put them into teams and get the flipchart out for the “scores on the doors” marks.  Buy some silly toys from the store which all let off different sounds so you can have quick fire rounds to energise.  But don’t make them run around in Mike Read style.  This is designed to ignite their brains.

Finally we have everyone’s favourite the high energising and high physical activity games.  Liked by trainers but despised by most audiences, honest they are. But they can have the desired effect.  Balloons, string, paper and blindfolds plus aplenty of space indoors or outdoors are the raw ingredients for hundreds of different games.  Or you can spend thousands on pre bought activity games sold by many training organisations, ready to run out of the box.

Wrap up

Remember energisers are very useful and help you to achieve the aims of your workshop or conference.  Put some time into thinking why you need them, connect them to your topic, sell them rigorously and you’ll never get the rumblings at the back of the room. “Oh no it’s the ice breaker!”

If used correctly, energisers, ice breakers, team games…whatever you want to call them… can bring fabulous value to your event and can even allow further learning as well as the more traditional energising benefits.