I do a fair bit of online facilitation and I have noticed that sometimes doing silly games, or taking the mind off of the hard work - even if for a minute - can be really beneficial to the wellbeing of participants.
Whether you’re planning a meeting for a small team, or you are a teacher engaging 40 students online, these templates will help you start your sessions or bring the group back together after a break.
Energizers are a great way to keep people engaged and focused if you’re in the middle of a slump or tackling a particularly complex topic. Transferring these into a remote environment is an essential tool to help people stay engaged in a remote meeting.
This exercise is very quick and great to get people to focus on the meeting - it invites people to take into consideration the rest of their body and their physical environment, and everything that is happening in the present moment. It is like a mini-meditation, disguised as a fun-game. Very easy to lead, as long as you stick to the order suggested (5 objects, 4 textures, 3 sounds, 2 smells and 1 taste).
I have a friend who says he does not have the "mood" organ. For some people, to express their moods in words can be really difficult. However, this kind of visualisation does not need words and can help get everyone on the same page. This exercise is great to do in silence, or if you want, you can play some music on the background. Give people time to compose their weather, and suggest they get creative and add other bits to it (eg: A UFO, or a blooming tree) that would help with nuancing their expression. If it feels safe, you can invite people to share a reflection about their picture.
This is an energiser to help your team show appreciation for each other in a creative way. Another variation is to have people draw their own portraits, which might be helpful for larger groups like students, etc. I would suggest you give the participants enough time to be creative, but not so much time that it drags on - it is nice if there is an element of trying to get everyone's portraits done under a certain time limit. I would work on them collectively, so people can self organize around the drawings - depending on the number of people you have. Or, you can create a rota and each person draws someone else.
GIFs are a dynamic and playful way to express feelings, and they can be especially helpful in easing the tension when people might be encountering difficult moments in a project. This game/energizer can also be used to start or end a meeting.
All you have to do is to ask a question pertinent to the group, and the moment, and invite people to answer it using an animated GIF. The easiest way to do that is participants go to https://giphy.com/ and choose a GIF they like, copy the URL and upload via url.
This is a very quick game, and you can do as many rounds as you want. Just pick one emoji and copy it into the frame. Then, people have a very short time window to find it. Whoever finds it has to make up a short story about that emoji.
Other versions could be: Curate a sequence of emojis, and as people find it, they narrate parts of a made-up story.