Updated: March 27, 2022

Team Building Meeting: Step by Step Guide

You found our guide to team building meetings.

Team building meetings are gatherings that fulfill the specific purpose of improving team relations. Typically, these events consist of one long team building exercises or a series of shorter team activities and games.

These meetings are similar to team building retreats and team building interventions.

This article includes:

  • Why hold team building meetings?
  • What do you do at a team building meeting?
  • How to plan a team building meeting.
  • What should you do after a team building meeting?

Let’s get to it!

Why hold team building meetings?

During team development meetings, employees engage in activities that reinforce teamwork skills such as communication, conflict resolution, delegation, and collective reasoning. Team meetings give coworkers the opportunity to interact with and build rapport with colleagues. Teammates may untangle a human knot, learn stress management skills from a Buddhist monk, or assemble bikes for underprivileged children. Either way, coworkers share experiences that form a basis for ongoing interaction. Team building meetings ease social roadblocks, boost morale, and bond teammates better than that gif of a cat gnawing pizza Jolene in billing sent around last week. No offense, pizza cat.

What do you do at a team building meeting?

Team bonding meetings consist of programming that mixes entertainment and enrichment, all with a focus on teamwork. These often incorporate team building exercises, team building activities, team building games, and icebreakers.

How to plan a team building meeting.

1. Decide Your Goal

Saying the goal of your meeting is simply to “build teams,” is the equivalent of shrugging and answering “food,” when your waitress takes an order at a restaurant. If you accept whatever random dish comes out of the kitchen, then you might wind up with something pretty good, but upon finishing the meal you may realize that dish was not quite what you wanted.

Setting goals for the meeting allows you to choose the outcome and design activities around the desired end result.

Sample goals:

  • Boost morale
  • Stoke creativity
  • Build camaraderie
  • Increase productivity
  • Normalize collaboration
  • Create company culture
  • Practice problem solving
  • Learn technical skills
  • Improve manager/subordinate relations

These are just a few examples of team building activity goals. You could add your own alternative, or combine a couple of different targets. The main point of setting your meeting goal is to plan and measure your success accordingly.

2. Choose your venue

Once you know the why you can move on to the where. You can decide whether you would like your gathering to become an outing or remain an in-house affair. Your meeting may benefit from a change of scenery, as employees are more likely to treat the meeting like a special occasion instead of another part of the workday. On the other hand, leaving the office does not automatically transfer into effective team bonding. When making a trek, you should ensure the destination plays an active role in the event instead of merely providing a backdrop.

When choosing venues for team meetings consider the following factors:

  • Attendance
  • Time, including transit time
  • Budget
  • Resources
  • Activities

Whether you take over the tasting room at that trendy new brewery, volunteer in the elephant pen at the local zoo, or commander one of your company’s conference rooms, ensure that you actually book the space. Forgetting to stake your claim before sending out invitations can result in double-booking, rescinded invitations, and unnecessary embarrassment.

Another factor to consider is the virtual realm. With remote work becoming a norm, you might consider whether you would like to move your meeting fully or partially online. Many virtual meeting software platforms such as Zoom offer options to record or even livestream meetings, allowing you to include geographically dispersed employees in team building events.

3. Pick a date and time

Anyone who has ever tried to schedule a meeting can attest that syncing calendars and finding a slot convenient for all attendees is no easy feat. The planning process gets no less complicated for team meetings, since many employees deem team building exercises optional.

Of course, team building serves a valuable purpose, as improving interpersonal relationships translates into higher job productivity and satisfaction. Team building meetings achieve these benefits most effectively when as many coworkers participate. Thus, you will want to choose dates and times that accommodate as many teammates as possible.

Helpful advice:

  • Steer clear of busy seasons, hectic days, big projects
  • Give advanced notice so coworkers can clear schedules
  • Find coverage or halt operations so employees can attend
  • Consider offering alternate sessions

You can also give teammates the option to vote on dates and times to increase the likelihood that many will be able to attend.

Selecting the most convenient date and time eases employee stress and raises teammate receptiveness to team building tasks.

4. Invite guest speakers

This step is totally optional. Guest speakers can add extra oomph to team meetings. Employees are more likely to give undivided attention to visitors than to peers.

Guest quality varies, and speakers run the risk of seeming either too boring or too cheesy. Employees do not want to fall asleep while listening to a lecture, but do not necessarily want to shout a forced response like “awesome!” every thirty seconds either.

To choose a speaker, you can ask your teammates for topic suggestions to ensure you select a guest whose insights interest the team. While researching, be sure to read reviews and watch performances. Many topic experts have uploaded at least one video or podcast online, and you can get a feel for the presentation style from these past productions.

You do not need to stick solely to motivational speakers or industry experts. Many folks are happy to share knowledge with your group. You can tap into your network and use friends or acquaintances if you feel these individuals have valuable information to impart. Just remember, compensating your speakers in some way, even if your guest does not demand a fee, is a kind and professional gesture.

Here is a list of virtual keynote speakers.

5. Plan activities

Activities are the heart of every team building meeting. Once you nail down organizational details, you can start planning exercises to engage and educate your teams.

You should consider group size, meeting duration, and your session’s objectives to select appropriate team building exercises.

Here are some lists of ideas for team building in-person:

When in doubt, you can always turn to your teammates for inspiration. You can ask coworkers what team building maneuvers worked well in the past, and which team exercises most excite your colleagues.

For more ideas, check out these lists of outdoor team building exercises and indoor team building activities.

6. Create your agenda

Corporate team meetings are journeys, and any good journey requires a road map. Once you hammer out your details, create a meeting agenda so that you can ensure your group gets to experience every great feature you planned. Of course, plans do go awry, and you can always shorten or skip an activity if your time runs short or draw on a backup exercise if you finish early.

What should you do after a team building meeting?

Just like teachers assign homework to cement lessons, you can recap your team meeting with colleagues. To do so, dedicate time at the close of the meeting or during the following workweek to reflect on the takeaways from the session. You can even email your teams a review of the meeting and a survey. Analyzing the meeting allows you to assess your team’s progress and measure the meeting’s success. This approach also gives you the opportunity to solicit feedback from the team which can shape the nature of future team building events.

Final Thoughts

According to MIT, the average worker spends about six hours per week in meetings, while the number of weekly meeting hours for executives hovers around 23. Skeptics criticize the efficacy of these meetings, as employees report that many meetings are unproductive. Faced with such statistics, you may be hesitant to add a team building meeting to the roster. By planning your arranging your meeting carefully and selecting thoughtful, engaging, goal-centered activities, you can reap benefits such as heightened employee connectedness, rejuvenated motivation, and aligned company culture, leading to lower staff turnover and higher productivity.

Next, check out this guide to all hands meetings, these examples of team building worksheets, and this list of conference call activities.

We also have a guide to team building plans.

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