When a student enters a classroom or an educational environment, they have made a choice and a commitment to learning. What they have not accepted, however, is that they will be forced to only listen and make notes for the foreseeable future. No, they have chosen to enter a learning environment that creates discussion, provokes thought, and engages their passions. Some knowledge might be best taught using lectures, but for the modern learner, engaging team-based activities are a far more interesting way of acquiring and retaining new skills and information.
In this article, we will share five engaging team building activities for business and marketing students, some of which are classics that you will already be familiar with, as well as others that can reshape how you command the classroom.
Activity One: Code of Conduct
Whether you’re at a conference, a workshop, a team-building weekend, or it’s the first week of the academic year, it’s a good human practice to get together and build a shared consensus on what the values and rules are for the group. It will help to build trust.
How to play
- Write the words ‘enjoyable, meaningful, and valuable’ on a whiteboard or screen
- Ask each individual to answer what will make the event enjoyable, meaningful, and valuable
- if there are too many people, ask for volunteer suggestions
- depending on the event set up, getting people to write their ideas on sticky notes or text in their answers to a shared chat might work too
- Put the answers into a mind map or a list (some answers will be the same or very similar, so try to keep them as general ideas rather than word for word)
- Ensure that people understand the idea being shared and agree with it, as you go along
- Once you have a solid list of ideas, go through them and ask participants how they would implement and carry out the value during the event – make note of them
- Once the whats and the hows are complete, you have a code of conduct for everyone to maintain and respect
Whilst this activity might not be the most fun in the world, it does engage everyone, challenging people’s notions of what is important and valuable and teaching us a lot about the people around us. Putting these values into place will also give everyone a sense of community and reward, allowing the event to proceed more efficiently and with greater participation in further activities.
Activity Two: Two truths, one lie
In this classic icebreaker game, participants are tasked with coming up with two true facts and one falsity about themselves. They must tell their 3 pieces of information whilst others in the group must guess which is fact and which is fiction. The person who guesses correctly will go next and the person telling the facts will rotate until everybody has played.
In the real business world, we are not always faced with true and accurate information. Giving students the opportunity to decipher truth from fiction is more valuable than we might first think, and developing that instinct for truthfulness can be an impressive advantage especially in business simulation games.
Activity Three: Lineup
Another workshop classic, this time you will have participants line up by different qualifiers, such as age, height, where their birthday falls in the year, the first letter of their first name. Oh, there’s an important caveat too – it should be done without talking! If you have a lot of participants, divide them into groups, with around 10 per group being an ideal figure. Teamwork is essential to win this game.
Activity Four: The Offline Social Network
When it comes to engaging team building activities for business and marketing students, few are better at helping those in the group who don’t yet know each other to become acquainted. The first step is to get a nice big whiteboard or flipchart to act as the map, then give everyone a small piece of paper on which they can draw themselves and write their name and course of study. The students then stick their profiles on the board and using markers of different colors, draw lines to the people that they already know. There can be a color code, like ‘blue marker if you worked on a project together’, or ‘red marker if you’ve known them a long time’.
Now that the students can see who they do know, and why, they can make a list of the people that they don’t know. A true networker will make inroads to befriend those they don’t yet know. The host of the activity can now use that information to form groups, set up exercises, or plan for future projects.
Activity Five: Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank
There will be some students, especially on a business course, who have been so inspired by the TV shows ‘Dragon’s Den’ or ‘Shark Tank’, that they have in some part inspired them to become a business student and go down this path. For this reason, this activity will be incredibly popular with business students, whilst at the same time, the presentation element of the show is actually direct marketing, so it will engage marketing students too. This is one of the simplest and most rewarding business simulation games out there, as it requires little to no materials or software to get started.
Participants are split into groups of 2-5 people. The host, as well as any assistants or a selection of participants, will serve as the four dragons (complete with fictional successful backgrounds and catchphrases), who, at the end of the pitches, will decide whether to invest or not (with fictional money of course).
The rules are simple. The teams must each come up with an imaginary product or service to pitch to a team of investors (the dragons or sharks). The pitch must include a brand name, slogan, business plan, marketing plan, and financial data such as market size, profit margins, and predicted sales figures.
Each team, in turn, presents their ideas, and then faces a barrage of questions tackling the profitability and legitimacy of the concept. The success of their presentation and the quality of their answers will determine whether the dragons or sharks part with their money for investments. This game requires collaboration, strategy, and assigning roles effectively within a team.
After all the teams have presented their ideas, the team with the most investment money wins.
Why are we encouraging you to play games?
As well as being a golden chance to shake up the content of your course, it’s vital that students are given engaging opportunities to enter simulated business environments. Whilst lining up but the first letter of your first name might not seem, at face value, to be useful, it’s actually helping people develop skills such as transacting information and building the confidence to speak to other professionals. Business simulations come in many shapes and sizes, analogue and digital, and each presents a worthwhile space for personal improvement without the risks and rigours of the real business world.