"I'm feeling like a teddy bear..."
by Francois Bachmann
communication skills teddy bear
In order to take the seriousness out of a group that meets for the first time, I usually put some objects (a stapler, a pair of scissors, some Post-It notes, a wristwatch, a teddy bear, an apple, a mug, a ... you name it) in the middle of the table and ask everyone to grab one that illustrates their current emotional state. I allow 1 minute for choosing, no big deal.
When everyone (including me) has one object, I start by saying something like "I feel like an apple right now - I'm still green, hanging on the tree and growing, but I'm wondering when I'll fall and what the next season will bring." No more than 2 sentences, then the next person does the same, and so on.
This can lead to quite funny comparisons, as the number of objects is limited, but it brings out the human side of things (caution, this can get *very* personal). And in a matter of 15 minutes, the whole team has a gut feeling about each other (sense of humour, verbosity, openness, ...).
Don't do this every time, but once in a while is fun. Oh, and don't worry too much about the objects, they're just catalysts.
Once the participants have played the game, you can ask them to bring an object that represents their current emotional state next time.