Team Building Exercises – Make believe story

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Created by:
Herman Otten
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This is one of our team building exercises where the team will create a make believe story with combined effort.
The purpose of this exercise is to give the team more insight into listening and visualising what other people are saying.

During the exercise the team members will be forced to listen very carefully to one another. If they don’t listen closely enough it can happen that they won’t be able to add up to the story when it’s their turn. A good motivation because everyone will get a turn!

This exercise will create team synergy. After all it’s the whole team that has to contribute to the very same story. It teaches the team to think and act in coherence.

Because the team is telling one story, everyone will have to let go of their individuality to make the it a succes. Individual egos and ideas have to temporarily be put aside to make this exercise process smoothly.

The time every participant takes to make a contribution to the story will differ from person to another. This will be noticeable, one has more to share than the other. Some times you can let people contribute until they are completely out of inspiration and don’t have anything to say anymore. Other times you can purposely give the turn to someone that does not really know what to say. This way you can teach everyone, even people that think they can’t contribute, how to tell a story (even when they supposedly don’t know what to say).

During the exercise you can use a couple of methods to give more depth and variety. A few examples on how to achieve this are listed below.

Change perspectives
When a story is being told you can instruct the team to continue the story from another character perspective. In this case the story could be told from the perspective of just the pig or the waiter. The more character there are in the story, the more perspectives you can change!

Put emphasize on what is happening
Put emphasize on what is actually happening and not on what the characters in the story are thinking. When this happens too much nothing in the story is really progressing and people will have a harder time to come up with new input.
To illustrate: instead of saying ‘the horse thought’ go with ‘the horse said’ or ‘the horse walked…’ etc.

Create vivid images
Vivid images stimulate the fantasy more than abstract images.

Instead of: they walked up the beautiful (abstract) stairway. It’s better to say: they walked up a very steep (concrete) stairway with angelic decorations with a setting sun in the background.
This will create more vivid images for the story people can improvise on and work with.

When someone admits to having a difficult time with visualising you can ask the participant to think of a familiar image. How does his or her house look from the inside? What does the way to work look like? This way you are stimulating someone to see something in front of him. This technically functions as a lay up to contribute to the make believe story again.

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Created by:
Herman Otten
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