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5 top teambuilding activities for conferences on a budget

This is a guest blog post by Dale Parmenter, Group CEO at drp. drp is one of the longest established, trusted and uniquely integrated communication and production specialists, recognised for creating highly engaging internal, external and experiential communications, producing award winning live events and exhibitions, compelling film and video, intuitive digital solutions and visually striking design-led print. You can learn more about them here

Team building activities are an effective way for your team to connect, communicate and work together better. Although team building games are designed to be enjoyable and challenging, they also have to coincide with company aims and objectives. It is important to choose activities that are suitable and beneficial for the client, so before you start planning a team building event you must consider:

  • Why run a team building event?
  • What are your objectives and how will you achieve them?
  • What is the best structure to achieve those objectives?

With digital, production, and technology altering how team building is executed, we have decided to strip it right back to the basics. High quality team building activities don’t have to be expensive, or full of the latest gadgets. Below are some of our favourite simple, and easy team building activities that won’t break your bank account.

1. Towering Challenge

Number of Delegates: 12 + in teams of 3+ people.

Materials: newspapers/magazines, office tape, scissors, OR, garden canes and elastic bands. A one metre ruler for measuring up the towers.

Time: 20-30 minutes.

Location: This activity can be set up anywhere that has floor space, such as a hall.

Description: The challenge is to design and construct a model tower using only newspaper, tape, and scissors. The group must be split into teams of 3-5 people (depending on the size of the group). The teams will be given limited supplies and a time limit. The tower must be as tall as they can make it, but also stable enough to stand up for longer than 10 seconds. Everyone must cooperate in their teams to find novel ways to build a good tower. The tallest and most stable tower wins.

Objectives: Communication, teamwork, competition, limited resources, time management, planning, design, strong thought processing, and cooperation under a time limit.

Tower Challenge

2. Treasure Hunt

Number of Delegates: 20 – 1000.

Materials: Paper, pens, large outdoor or indoor space, and a map of the space you are carrying out the activity in.

Time: 1 to 3 hours.

Location: This activity can be set up anywhere, however, it works really well in an outdoor space.

Description: The aim of the treasure hunt is to discover a set number of items hidden across different areas of the location where the event is being held. In teams, and within a time limit, delegates must use clues and a map to work together to find all of the items. Treasure hunts test everything from organisation and leadership to good communication in a fun and competitive setting. There are many different versions that can be created, as it is a very versatile activity.

Objectives: Forward planning, team work, time management, problem solving, critical thinking, fun, and competition.

3. Produce a Video

Number of Delegates: 10 to 100, in team sizes of 5 to 10.

Materials: Variable – paper and pens, presentation screen, rely on your delegates to use their mobile phones or provide rented cameras / iPads.

Time: 1 hour to a full day.

Location: This activity can be set up anywhere.

Description: The task is to create a film with limited resources within their teams. Each team has to storyboard an idea before assigning roles such as director, script writer, actors, cameraman, and so on. The premise of the film can be established in relation to the client and their chosen objectives for the day. All teams showcase their films at the end of the time allocated by sending it to the presentation laptop via email. This activity exercises the ability to organise themselves as a team, plan, prepare, and create a video. It requires the group to delegate and organise themselves into different roles.

Objectives: Creativity, organisation, time management, innovation, team participation, budgeting, planning, communication, fun.

4. Water Pipe Challenge

Number of Delegates: 100 +

Materials: Plastic water piping from a DIY hardware store, and water.

Time: 30 mins +

Location: This activity can be set up anywhere, ideally outdoors as it can be messy!

Description: The group has to make a rigid watertight structure with the pipes, and by the end of the game the water should be able to travel inside the piping from one side of the room to the other. This challenge starts as a task for the individual, then a small team, before the whole group works as one unit. The event encourages delegates to understand how their actions affect a larger team.

Objectives: Communication, teamwork, organisation, lateral thinking, objective focus, competition, fun.

Water Pipe Challenge

5. Rocket Design

Number of Delegates: 10 +

Materials: 2ltre coke bottle (one per team), paper, glue, colouring pens, scissors, foot pump(s), coke bottle foot pump adapter.

Time: 30 mins to 1 hour.

Location: This activity can be set up anywhere, however, it is great outside.

Description: Using the materials provided the teams create rockets designed on company branding and values. The rockets must have the coke bottle attached facing downwards for launch. The rockets are judged on quality, presentation, and height/distance of flight. With a foot pump (and a coke bottle adapter), one member from each team has to foot pump air into the coke bottle to launch it from one side of the room to the other.

Objectives: Creativity, design, time management, lateral thinking, organisation, teamwork, competition, fun.

Rocket Challenge

Photos by drp

Vietnamese cooking class with School of Wok

Often attendees will forget the speaker, the venue, all the small details we spend so much time on as event organisers, but they will remember the food! But what if cooking and eating were actually the event? Even better!

Two weeks ago I attended Vietnamese cooking class at School of Wok, an award winning Asian cookery school in London. I was invited by Nev the co-founder of the school to experience it for incentives and team buildings. Being a hobby cook myself I was delighted to experience a whole new world of flavours and take my cooking skills to the next level. Classes offer covers pretty much all of Asian cuisine, including Chinese, Korean, Thai, and also more specialised classes such as Dim Sum or wok, to mention a few.

The school is located in Covent Garden, short walking distance from China Town where the school sources all its ingredients. The Vietnamese class I chose is a whole day class, starting from 10.30 until 16.30 with plenty time for learning, eating and socialising but they also offer shorter classes.

Our morning started in the kitchen with preparing Chicken Pho in groups of 3 – 4 before moving to the main hall to learn about chopping. While our Chicken Pho was cooking, we started chopping and preparing our mise-en-place for the rest of the dishes on the menu: Vietnamese Summer Rolls, Beef in Betal Leaf and Char Grilled lemongrass Beef Banh Mi. We spend a lot of time learning cutting techniques and that reminds me of the book The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry. The book is about a woman who decided to quit her corporate career and follow her long childhood dream and study in the prestigious cooking school Le Cordon Bleu. In the book they say that “with a dull knife, it’s true, you end up pressing too hard on the onion. This crushes the cells, causing volatile oils from the onion to be released, and it’s the oil that makes you cry… but with a very sharp knife, you do not have to push so hard with your knife, and that way less oil releases”. Our lovely teacher Mel gives us some tips with the onion. Don’t cut the root, you can cut it vertically and then in cubes, but keep the onion intact. Interestingly enough, the second co-owner of the school, Jeremy Pang, studied at Le Cordon Bleu but unfortunately I didn’t meet him to ask about other Le Cordon Bleu stories mentioned in the book.

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Some of the Mise-en-place

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Frying onion and ginger for Chicken Pho

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Chicken preparation

Sharp knives and alcohol don’t go well together, so only when chopping is done for the day wine and beer are offered and greatly welcomed and we start rolling the spring rolls. Just before our Chicken Pho is ready, we quickly fry our beef in Betal Leaf and shortly after are ready to have our well-deserved, amazingly delicious, self-made lunch (humble brag)!

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

Our teacher Mel demonstrates cutting technique

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Rolling Vietnamese Summer Rolls

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Beef in Betal Leaf in the making

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© The MICE Blog - event management blog

Best Chicken Pho!

After the break we are back in the kitchen and ready for a second round: the Banh Xeo Vietnamese Style Pancake and Chargrilled lemongrass Beef. To my surprise the pancakes are super easy to make and when ready crispy and can be perfectly paired with white wine or beer! During the time we prepare our pancakes, the meat is getting ready for our final dish – Chargrilled lemongrass Beef Bahn Mi. I am at the point I can’t eat any more – so take this one home with some more summer rolls.

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

Banh Xeo Vietnamese style pancakes easy to make, all you need is rice flour, plain flour, turmeric powder, salt, coconut cream & water! For filling take spring onion, bean sprouts, prawns or tofu & pair with white wine or beer

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

Char Grilled lemongrass Beef Banh Mi

I leave this class very satisfied with the whole experience. Haven’t been to Vietnam yet, I feel I have learned about the culture, I improved my cooking skills, tasted incredibly tasty and healthy food, met interesting people and most importantly had fun. Since they have so many classes on offer, I am sure to be back for more!