Without lengthening the workshop, trainers can easily incorporate movement into standard activities such as discussions in pairs and group activities.
The first step toward using movement in a workshop is setting up the room. Make sure chairs and tables are set up to facilitate conversation and with enough space in between for participants to comfortably stand up and walk around. Place any refreshments in a location that will force participants to get up and walk to them. Prepare any flip charts needed for writing during group activities and hang them around the room in locations that will require participants to move to new areas for the activities.
Next, inform the audience that the workshop will require them to leave their seats. Facilitators should be specific about what will be required, so that any participants who do not enjoy mingling or getting up during training can prepare themselves. Let them know that the workshop activities were chosen to help them channel their energy toward learning. If it suits the environment, this is a good time to introduce any type of participation points system.
One quick activity that can influence participants to contribute to the workshop is to illustrate the energy wasted by resistance. Ask participants to stand up. Then ask them to make a fist with one hand, open the other hand, and push their own open hand with their own fist.
The typical participant will automatically push back with the open hand, so that the fist and the open hand are struggling against each other and both hands are stuck in one place. Note that the instructions said nothing about putting up resistance, but people often do so naturally. However, if the open hand had not resisted when pushed by the fist, both hands could have moved together. Ask participants to try going with the flow of the workshop - even when it might feel natural to resist - so that everyone can move forward together.
For a simple alternative to a standard pair discussion, before posing the discussion question, ask participants to find a partner and stand back-to-back with that person. Tell them to take a couple of deep breaths. Introduce the discussion question, ask participants to think about the question, and then let them know that when they are ready to discuss the question with their partner, they can turn around to face that person and begin sharing their thoughts.
Another alternative is to compel participants to mingle to find a suitable partner. Distribute cards to participants that have a word, phrase, or image on them. Each card should be part of a pair, so that someone else in the room carries the matching half of the set. The pairs can be synonyms or antonyms. They can also be matching phrases, such as a famous quote and the speaker, or a key word for the organization and the definition of that key word.
If the group includes people from different cultures, such as American and British co-workers, the word pairs can be drawn from the two cultures, for example elevator-lift, vacation-holiday, or apartment-flat. Card images can include straightforward matches, such as a salt shaker and a pepper shaker, or they can include less obvious matches, such as an image of a group of people working together matching a card with the word teamwork. Basic pairs will help participants find their partners quickly, whereas more complicated card pairings will encourage mingling and conversation.
Sound of music
Another way to choose partners through mingling is to ask the audience to walk around while loud music plays, and then let them know that their partner is the nearest person when the music stops. A fun song, such as a chacha, will loosen participants up while they walk around. If the room becomes too quiet, replaying the music while they talk has the effect of making participants speak up, much like the effect of music playing in a bar.
When wrapping up the pair discussions, the trainer can incorporate movement into the process of refocusing the participants' attention to the front of the room. Rather than shouting above the din that time has expired, the trainer can teach the participants a rhythmic pattern of claps, finger snaps, and stomps that the participants will repeat when time is up.
Another common group activity involves writing information on flipchart paper and then sharing that information with the larger group. If the flipchart paper is hung on the walls ahead of time, groups will be compelled to move around to complete the activity. The trainer can then incorporate additional movement by asking members of the group to walk throughout the room to collect the materials required for the activity. For example, markers can be located in one area of the room, handouts with directions can be located in another area, and extra flipchart paper can be located in a third area.
To break the ice, the trainer can assign activity roles to members of each group based on specific characteristics. This will require group members to get to know each other to complete the activity. For example, the individual who has the youngest child can be assigned to collect the markers, the member with the longest time at the organization can be assigned to do the writing, and the individual who has lived in the most places can be assigned to share their work with the whole room.
Another activity involves answering review questions. The trainer can spice up this activity by asking groups to stand up and do this while tossing a ball around. The participant tossing the ball must ask a question before tossing it, and the group member who catches the ball must provide the answer.
Movement can also be added when the trainer chooses the groups. The trainer can build familiarity by asking participants with shared traits to come together, such as creating groups of people with no siblings, one sibling, and two or more siblings. When participants gather into their groups, they will have a natural focus of conversation to break the ice.
A final quick activity to break participants into groups is to choose several famous families, bands, or sports teams. Create cards with the names of members of the various groups, and distribute one to each participant. Participants must walk around to find the other members of their groups.
Trainers generally build interest in each section of a workshop by preparing participants for each chunk of information with a short, motivational activity. These icebreakers are opportunities to add movement to the workshop.
Icebreakers involve sharing thoughts, and movement can be incorporated in many ways. When every participant shares their thoughts with the whole group, the trainer can ask everyone to stand in a circle to listen to everyone's ideas. When time is short, the trainer can ask everyone to write their thoughts on sticky notes and walk to the front of the room to post the note onto flipchart paper and read the thoughts of others aloud.
When the trainer asks a provocative question that invites participants to share their opinions, he can incorporate movement by asking participants to walk to designated areas of the room based on their opinions. For a multiplechoice question, different corners of the room can represent different options, and for an agree-disagree question, the opposite sides of the room can represent the two options. Participants are permitted to stand in between if they don't feel strongly either way.
Another way to use movement to establish a transition between workshop sections is to ask participants to move to a new seat for each section so that they can approach the new topic with a fresh perspective. If the prospect of asking participants to move many times seems daunting, the trainer can select team captains for small groups of participants and then give the team captains the responsibility for making the participants move.
Add fun props like whistles or captain hats to really get the participants' attention. While the suggested actions may sound like the facilitator is directing traffic, having participants move around during a session forces them out of the daze caused by sitting in the same seat for hours.