How to use Escape Rooms for Team Building - Full Transcript

A webinar for escape room owners who want to learn about designing and facilitating team-building sessions for corporate groups. Topics will include: •What exactly is team-building? •Backward design and active learning •Setting goals for the session •Selecting activities •Using assessments •How to keep everyone engaged •Facilitation styles •Pitching your services

Streamed Live June 16, 2016


Presenter - Christy Byrd PhD, University of California Santa Cruz. Escape Room entrepreneur - Exit Santa Cruz

Accompanying literature:

Facilitating Team-Building Sessions: A Guide for Escape Room and Exit Game Owners

Exit Santa Cruz team building book handouts

Hello. Let's see. It doesn't look like we have any viewers yet. O.K. Well, I am going to get started. My name is Christy Byrd and this is a webinar on how to use escape rooms for team building. 

So, there is this question and answer app on the side here. If you have a question, you can type it in  there and I'll be able to see it and answer it. I think I'll wait just a few more seconds to see if more people pop in and then I'll go ahead and get started. Hello Schober (sp?) industries. 

Topics for Today 

O.K. well let me go ahead and get started. Here's what we're going to cover today. What exadctly is team-building. I'll talk about educational learning theories about backward design and active learning as a way you should think about how you should structure your sessions. That ties into setting goals and choosing your activities. I'll talk a little bit about choosing assessment tools to use with your team building session, and then a bit about the process of actually facilitating these sessions. How do you keep everyone engaged. How do you determine what your style is when you're interacting with participants. Everyone really has their own style but I'll kind of map out three different styles that I've noticed that people tend to fall into. The very end will be about pitching your services. I'm going to try and talk for about 40 minutes and then leave time for questions. For the people that just joined us, there's this question and answer app where you can type your question and I'll be able to answer it out loud. You can also email me if you have questions. My email is 

My Background

Alright, so let's talk about who I am. So this is a picture of me. My name's Christy Byrd, again, I work at University of California, Santa Cruz as an assistant professor of psychology. My PhD is in education and psychology, and so in that degree I learned about educational learning theories. I learned about how to structure, how schools work as organizaitons, so it ties in alot with industrial organizational psychology. I also learned the psychological side of things. I teach child development now at UCSC and also educational psychology. My training in facilitation really comes from working with the program on intergroup relations at the University of Michigan. This was an organization that put on workshops and classes for faculty, for staff, for students, really focused on conflict resolution but particularly around social identity. How do you talk to people across diversity and across different backgrounds. A lot of my facilitation experience really comes from working with people around these really difficult topics of "Hey, you know I have a different culture and that cand cause conflict or that can cause miscommunication." Also helping people realize that their identities do effect thier interactions with each other and effects how the world works. I learned alot about facilitation from that experience but of course I also am a teacher. I teach courses at UCSC and I'm kind of known for my active learning, which I'll talk about what that is a little bit later. But, I'm really known for coming up with lot's of activities for the students to use and to do in classes. Even in classes of 120 students or so, there's a lot of ways you can incorporate fun things that help students engage with what they are learning. That's about me. You know, since my research is also about diversity, I've served on some committees and the Chancellor's diversity advisroy council  which is really just about advising the Chancellor of the university on how to deal with diversity issues on campus. So, that's what my background is coming from. I've been working in this area for about almost 10 years now and I have experience with a lot of different types of groups. You know, groups of older adults, groups of faculty, groups of staff, and of course groups of college students and sometimes high school students. Alright, that's enough about me. 

Team Building is a General Process

Let's talk about what team building is. Team building is really, we use a term in the escape room Facebook groups as kind of like "Oh, well, you do team building when you have corporate group come through your room." Really, team building is this more general process of how does a group think about what strengths and weaknesses they have and how they go about improving them. So, it's really more intensive than just one session. It's about evaluating what the team's needs are. Designing an intervention, implementing that, and then figuring out whether it worked. This is really something that businesses can go through and spend months and months and years even, actually improving. When we're talking about team building for escape rooms we're usually talking about a session. So, we're having a session where a group is coming in and they want to work on a particular goal. As an escape room owner, I'm sure you don't want to spend a lot of your time, you know, just helping businesses with their general processes. What you should really do is think about your team building as a session to help them meet one goal that they value at that time. I'm going to talk about how you design those sessions. 

There are Four Major Challenges to Facilitation

When you think about facilitation there's really four main challenges in making sure things go well. Everyone's been in a boring meeting or a professional development where it's just like "I don't know why I'm here, I don't want to be here!" It's just terrible, you don't feel like you learned anything at the end. You definitely want to avoid that with your escape room. It might be enough to think like "well yeah, sure, an escape room, it's a fun thing. Of course people are going to find value in it."  But that's not really true, actually, people won't find value in just doing the experience unless you actually build on what that experience means for teir [inaudible] away from is what you need to help them understand. Here are the challenges in designing that experience. 


Obviously, the escape room is part of that. You also have to add things around the escape room to make sure people are really learning. 

Then, how you keep them engaged. This is where disruptive participants come in. I define destructive participants as anyone who is not necessarily into the flow of the session. How do you deal with them? What do you do? 

That also ties into your facilitation style which is you as an individual, you're up there. How do you make sure people are paying attention to you and that you get people through your learning objective? 

Content - Let's start with talking about content. From learning theory we know that the best way to design lessons or activities is to start with the end in mind, this is called backwards design. That mean's you start with what your learning objectives are and then you choose your activities. You might be thinking, "well, I already have the activities, an escape room" but I want to talk about how you choose other activities that go with the escape room to really meet certain learning objectives. In order to determine what your learning objectives are you have to sit down with the requestor and talk to them about what they need in terms of what characteristics does a high performing team have. 

Set Goals Based on the Requestor's Needs

So, this is from some literature on team building and on successful organizations. This is the kind of things that a team that really works well has to know. Things like having clear goals. They need to know what they're doing. They need to communicate with each other effectively. They need to be able to resolve disagreements. They need to, you know, feel like they care about what this team is doing, they feel connected to the other people in the team. So, when you have a corporate group come to you for team building they are going to have some issue or some reason that they think that this will be helpful. Your job in that first meeting with the requestor is to determine what can your room do to best meet a need of the requestor. Now, like I said, team building is a very general process, where your one session, you're not going to be able to meet all of these goals. You're not going to be able to help the team improve on everything. What you will do is probably choose 3 or 4 goals that you can focus on in one session. Your goal is really to just improve a little bit on each of those. Also to build a foundation for that team to keep improving later if they so choose. But, what you're really doing in your first meeting with the requestor is getting a sense of what's the most pressing thing that they care about and then what is something that your room can actually help them with. 

Questions to Ask the Requestor

Here's some questions you can ask the requestor. You can ask them, so, tell me about your team. What kind of things do you do? What kind of issues come up? Is there conflict that happened recently? When I was working at the University of Michigan, a lot of groups came to us and was like, O.K., there was this particular thing that happened in the residence hall and we need a workshop on how to address that. That's the kind of thing that you want to know if that happened because it's going to come up during the session. Or, at least people are going to feel like, people are going to know, "O.K. this is something we need to work on." If there is conflict, you definitely want to make sure that that is a part of your planning. Other times it could be, "well, we just want to have a fun exeperience." You generally want to get more detail than just a "fun experience" from the requestor because just having fun, like we all talked about with actie learning, having fun is great, peopl love to have fun, but at the end their not necessarily going to feel like they got anything out of the experience. 

You will want to see what are the strengths that the team has, or what are some weaknesses. What are some ideal things that you would like to see after the team goes through this? It could be building rapport, or having the team feel closer to each other. That's a more specific goal than say, "having fun."  You can assess those kind of things in your meeting with your requestor. As your having this meeting [inaudible]. As your having this meeting you really want to think about what's the best match between your room and the room [inaudible]. 

Q: So, We have a question from Dave here that the groups are groups are just price shopping. They want to go for something cheap.

A: What you want to do is to help the organization understand the value of your room. A lot of escape rooms out there are just going to have, you know, "you can go through the room and it'll be fun." You can tell them, "O.K., I'm going to have this meeting with you. I'm gonna really assess what your needs are and I'm going to build a session that is unique to your needs." Then you'll have them, it may not necessarily lead to more bookings but you'll have more high quality bookings and you'll be able to charge more because you have that value that really adds to what their doing. So, I hope that answers your question dave. 

If you really just want more bookings there's really no need to do intensive team building sessions, you could just offer the room to, like, normal paying customers. But, if you do want to be able to charge more for the corporate bookings and to really draw in people who are looking for a specific experience, then you can really say here's the things we add to them. 

Once you meet with your requestor, you'll want to sit down with the goals you took from your notes and the strengths of your room. You'll want to think about what can your room offer that meets those goals.

Active Learning Promotes Engagement and Better Learning

When you're designing a session that really meets some learning objectives, what I want to talk about is this idea of active learning. Now a lot of people think of active learning is just having fun, that's not really what it means. Active learning is about being engaged in the learning process. The individual is thinking about what they're learning, they're processing it, they're interacting with other people. Their's a lot of literature on the idea that just even having a talk with someone to explain your viewpoint to someone else really does promote your understanding of the material a lot better than just sitting and passively listening to it. Kind of like you're doing now. There's no, you can definitely learn from lectures, you can definitely learn from just sitting and listening. Better learning comes from when you're actively engaged. Escape rooms, they're definitely active but they're not always learning. The activities that I'm going to talk about today is how you build in the learning part with the escape room as the active thing. 

What you'll also want to think about is, part of active learning is using a variety of activities. You want people to not be in just one type of group the entire time. You want them sometimes thinking individually, sometimes sharing with two or three other people, and sometimes having the whole group talking to each other. What this allows you to do, is it requires different levels of engagement and also requires the participant to shift their thinking and to look at the material in a slightly different way with each of these levels of activities.  That is another way to really promote active learning. 

Now with the escape room, it's something where people are usually working individually or with a small group level, but then we have the debrief afterward. Then you can have a large group and you can sort of say "everyone tell me about your experiences." That allows people to understand "Oh, this was happening when you were over in this corner or I was over in this corner!" 

These two parts of active learning, being actively engaged with the material, having different levels of involvement and then the last thing is revealing your learning objectives and not just telling the participants what you want to get out of it. I'll talk about this a little bit more about this later in terms of leading discussions. People learn more when they feel like the learning comes from within them. When they have a revelation that they say "oh, this is what happened, now I understand it, now I get it!" It's much less effective for someone to just tell you, "you need to be better at conflict resolution" if they can see for themselves how thier style influenced the resolution of a conflict then that's going to be a much more enduring lesson. So your job as a facilitator is really to guide people through this process and that's where the difficulty comes in. It's so much easier to just tell someone what you think they should know. The best learning comes from when you can design your activities and you can lead the discussion in such a way that people arrive at those conclusions on their own. 

Activities should meet your goals

Like I said, with backward design you want your activities to meet your goals. The escape room is going to be one activity. You can think about what is it, what kind of skills does your room involve? Is it really heavy on word puzzles? Is it more physical types of activities? You can think about how does that fit with the requestors goals. If it's a group that has trouble communicating and your room is something that has a lot of pieces of information that are separated and people need to be able to put all those pieces of information together. That one might be a good room for a group that struggles with that.  

Another example is if you have a room that requires people to focus more individually and people are feeling like "Oh, I'm not so good at my job, I'm not very efficacious." That can be a room where people, if they have a lot of individual tasks, where someone can solve it and feel like "oh yeah, I actually did something! I actually contributed to the group" Think about your room in that level. 

I'm not really advocating that you actually change your room or tailor it to any specific groups. I think what would be most effective is to tailor your activities before and after, to the group. Then you can say "This type of room is better for these goals." 

When you're designing the whole agenda, here's what I suggest. I suggest putting your escape room maybe in the middle. Starting out with some type of high energy ice breaker, or easing them into the day's activities. You want to set guidelines for the discussion. What kind of things, you know, the question we ask is "What do we need to have in place so that everyone can feel comfortable sharing?" Even though these are people who have been working together, you still want to make sure that they understand that in this space, in your session, there are rules or guidelines about how to take care of each other, about how to be respectful toward each other. Also set some expectations that, for, is this something that can leave this space. If we share something in here, is this something that's O.K. to go back and talk about at work? If someone share's a personal story or something like that. You really do want to have everyone feel comfortable. So then, you're going to do your escape room. You may want to do another activity. Then you want to do some sort of wrap-up activity. 

We have another question, from Dave.

Q: How do you train your gamemasters to do these things, especially when you're paying them $10 an hour. They can run the rooms just fine but talking about conflict resolution?

Yes, so, this is a good question. What you want to do is, your gamemasters also need to be trained in facilitation. If you're going to have your gamemasters leading these sessions, they need to be people who understand how to lead a discussion and how to help the team meet their goals. This is another part of value added component when you are selling this service. You would really want to make sure that you know what skills your gamemasters have. You would have to invest a little bit more into them so they're not just running the room. They are also leading these activities too. It's really the case that, you could also find people who are really good at these things too. If you have someone who's a teaching assistant at college. If you have college students that are teaching assistants. Or if you already work with someone who does some teaching. They're going to be a lot easier to train in this kind of thing. The'll be able to understand here's how you lead a discussion. Here's how you help people get through these things. Let me know if you have more questions on that. 

These activities I am going to talk about, concentric circles, active listening and goal setting. Their actually really easy to facilitate, these are some good starter activities if you haven't done a lot of facilitation before. 

concentric circles activity

The concentric circles activity. This is where you literally have people stand in concentric circles. One circle is facing inward and one circle is facing outward. This is a really good activity for starting the day or the session because it helps people just to talk to each other. It's pretty comfortable, pretty informal, and you also build rapport. You might talk to someone about a topic that you never really talked about at work before and that can help them feel like "O.K. this is something new. I'm actually learning something. I'm getting to know this other person." 

The activity is literally, they stand in circles. You give everyone a prompt and you say "talk to your partner for 3-4 minutes". Then, one of the circles will rotate so that they have a new partner and you repeat it. You just repeat it a couple of more times depending on how long you want this activity to go for. 

The nice thing about this activity is, like I said, it's pretty easy to facilitate and it's really easy to get into. You can really tailor the prompts to what the learning objectives are. If you have a team that needs to focus on conflict resolution, one of your prompts could be, "talk about a time when you had a conflict and how did you resolve it?" Or, talk about how your family handled conflict in the past. It's really good to, this kind of activity, it's really often nice to have prompts that refer to people's past or their family life growing up because most people don't get to enter those things into normal work day conversations. It can help people feel like "Oh, I really learned something new about my partner."  Also, you have to think about it a little bit. If you're reflecting on the past about how did my family handle conflict and how did that affect me today and how might that affect me today? How might that affect me in my work life? That can really help them to build on this activity into the future parts of the session. This is a really good activity that is extremely, extremely flexible. 

I do want to acknowledge James's comment here. He is advocating to partner with an experienced facilitator or team building company. It's really good to have someone experienced to help you do this. I do think that there's lots of things that you as an individual can do, with a little practice. 

Cracked it! Escape Games can help you design your next company team building activity.

Active Listening

This active listening activity, another one that is very easy to facilitate. You basically put people into groups of three, sometimes four if you want to have two observers. What they do is, one person will talk, the listener will comment on what they heard. They're basically repeating back what they heard. Since this is active listenting, the listener is trying to make sure and trying to convey that they really did hear everything that the speaker was saying. They're not adding their own ideas about it. They're really just repeating back, not repeating back word for word but saying here's what I got from what you said. The observer's job is to comment on both the speaker and listener to say "Here's where this was accurate, here's where this wasn't accurate, here's what your body language looked like when you were listening, here's what your body language was when you were sharing about this prompt."  This is to help people become more aware of what they do when they're listening. 

This activity is really surprisingly hard for people, especially in the listener role for the first time because they can't talk while the speaker is speaking. For many people it's really hard for them to not respond. Even when I do this activity I find myself nodding and trying to engage without actually saying anything. It's really very rewarding to be able to force yourself to listen, that's the whole point of this activity because you really are teaching yourself to listen in a whole new way and that's great to build on for later. This is an activity where you can do it before or after the escape room but it's really something you can use to show people, you can tie it back to the escape room. You can say "O.K., what happended during this puzzle when you were solving this puzzle? Is this something that listening more actively or have better listening skills might have helped you with?" People can start to realize, "Oh, yeah, it might have been more helpful." During that activity everyone rotates through all the roles so that everyone gains a sense of doing it. 

Dave has another question. 

Q: How much more per person do you charge to add, how much more time does it add, and how do you adjust your time slots?

These are great questions. I think that how much more you would charge would really be dependent on your business model. Whether it's going to be during a time that you're not usually open. How much did you spend on training the facilitators? How experienced are your game masters in terms of facilitating? Those are the kind of things where you would have to decide. I wouldn't say, for our team building, you could also choose the time. You can do this in two hours, an hour and a half, you could do it in three hours. I wouldn't really recommend more than 3 or 4 hours because most people cannot maintain attention for that long. You would really have to have experience, some experience at least, to engage with a group for that long. I would really say about two hours is probably ideal if you're just starting out in this kind of thing. With that, I would say that you could charge what you would charge for people being in there for two hours but also a little bit more for that value added component. 

What we do, is we do this during the day so that it is not really the same as the escape room times. Our sessions are 2 1/2 hours and they're only during the day. It's really not within the normal time slots is what I'm trying to say. And it's just about paying yourself for your time, how much do you want to get paid per hour? 

Goal Setting

The goal seeing activity is about having the group set some goals. This is a really straight forward activity. The group isn't sure about what they're doing or they have disagreements about what they're doing, having this goal setting is really enlightening if people thought "I thought we were supposed to be doing this and you thought we were doing this other thing." This activity is basically where you have someone say "This is what we're doing. This is our general idea of what the project is." 
Then you work in three different levels. You start as an individual, each person lists what they think the goals are. 

Then you get into small groups and you say "O.K., this is what I thought the goals were." and you create two lists. One is where we all agree this is a goal and here's the things that "I don't think we should be working on that." The small groups is really just to start generating a lot of ideas and then you take it to the large group and make another list. "Here's all the things we agreed on." It's usually very easy to say "O.K. we understand this."

The other goals is where the real discussion is going to happen. You have to really help the team think about, "O.K. is this really something we can do within the timeframe that we have? Is this a value of the company? Is this a value of everyone in this room? " You help the team negotiate what they really need to focus on. You don't have to spend so much time on the agreed upon ones buy you do want to help them walk through the ones that they don't necessarily agree on yet and have people justify why they think that should be a goal. It also helps them think about the resources that are available to them and what they can actually do. 

The key part of this activity is at the end, after you've gone through this. You say to everyone "O.K. here's what we came up with. Here's some things we agreed on and here's some things that you still need to work on. Can you all commit to these goals?" Alright, you just sort of do like a cheesy "Yeah! We did it!" Just so that everyone can feel like "O.K., we did agree to this" so that when they go back to the workplace they can have a very clear sense that we decided on something and we all committed to it. 

This is a really good activity for having a very concrete plan at the end.

Assessments can be informative tools

I will talk now about using assessment tools. I have a list of these in the handout, a handout of all of these on our website. So, the thing is that, I'm not a really huge fan of assessments for these types of short activities but some people do use them, some people find them valuable. The thing about assessments is you want to use something that's really short, that's easy for people to measure. They have to be aligned with your goals.

You can use assessments in a lot of different ways. You can go over them as an activity. You can say "Oh, here's where everyone fell on their conflict resolution style." Then you can have people get into groups by their style and talk about the similarities we see with each other. This is where our style plays out in these different situations.  You could use assessments as information. You could say to everyone "Here's your score, go home and think about that."

There's some activities you can do where you actually use the assessment to structure an event more. The types of assessments I have here, they're more motivational. They're more about understanding who you are and where your beliefs are. Those are definitely more on the informational side and not necessarily something you're going to have people working on within your short session. 

I'm just going to show you one of the assessments. The rest are on this link here. [link:] You can go to that.  


The mindset one, I don't know if people have heard of Carol Dewck's work, but she basically says that their are two types of, there's more than two, their's two types of mindsets about how you understand ability or intelligence.  There's a fixed mindset which basically says, you're born with a certain amount of intelligence and you're just stuck with it. Then their's the growth mindset which says you can actually change how intelligent you are. You can learn more. You can actually increase your skill. Intelligence is just a skill. Where the fixed mindset is more, nope, you either have it, or you don't. You have a certain amount of it and that's it. 

Where these two mindest's have implications is how you approach work. Someone with a fixed mindset, if they approach a problem and they have trouble with it, they might just give up on it and say "I don't have the ability to do this and their's no point in even continuing with this." Whereas someone with a growth mindset might approach that same problem and say "I have trouble with this, but that means there's a skill I just don't know yet, there's something I need to learn." They might go back and learn something and reapproach the problem. 

You might be able to see how these different types of mindsets can influence how you work with other people. Someone with a fixed mindset might not see why are you still working on that? You are clearly having problems, it's clearly not for you. Whereas someone with a growth mindset thinks that obviously, this is still valuable for me to work on. 

I am running a little short on time so I am gonna keep going. If you have more questions about the assessments, I can definitely talk about that. Another question from Dave.

Q: If a room [inaudible] is $260 would you add an additional $260 for teambuilding for an hour and even more if it was 2 hours? 

I wouldn't necessarily charge more for, what is this $520? Our team building sessions are actually $500 for two or three hours. I don't necessarily think that I would do it by the hour. It's useful to think about how much is this time normally worth and add a little bit extra for your time.

Build interest and value to keep everyone engaged

Talking about engagement. What makes people bored? Their interest value is not there which means that they usually don't enjoy this type of thing, this intrinsic motivation. The utility value is not there, they don't see it as a useful activity. Or, the attainment value is not there, they don't see it as an important activity. 

With active learning, not everything has to be fun. There's a lot of things that we do that are not necessarily fun but we see it as important to who we are as people, or to our role. Or, we see it as useful, I'm going to sit through this algebra class because I'm going to use it later on. You can help the people in the session to stay engaged by focusing on these different types of values. 

Interest value is not something you are going to change. People are either going to like it or they're not. You can really highlight the utility value or the attainment value by helping understand, this is a goal we're trying to reach. This is how these activities are going to reach that goal.  This is why achieving this goal is useful for your team, or this is how this goal will help you become a better team member.  

It's really important to help people not be confused. Clear instructions, practice your instructions, read them to people. Check in during the sessions. It's always surprising to me how many people will not ask the question when they are confused. I don't know if it's just because they don't trust you or just because they think that they are embarrassed but you do need to check in with groups as you're going along to make sure they understand what your instructions are.  

Environmental distractions. Snacks are always a good thing. People get hungry. People get tired. The room might be too cold, that's going to distract people. 

They key thing when leading discussions, especially in a larger group, is to have what I call the discussion path. When I first started teaching I really I opened up with "What do you think about this?" People would comment and I'd be "That's great, that's great, that's great." The end of that would be like "we didn't really talk about anything" because everyone's sharing their beliefs and their's no point to it. 

Now I structure my discussions a lot more formally and you can do this in a highly visible way where it's very clear what you are doing or you can do it in a more subtle way. The real point is that what you're doing is you are responding and following up on the comments that help you go towards your learning objectives. You're acknowledging the comments that don't go towards those objectives but you're not really spending a lot of time on them. You're really just moving forward those comments that are helping meeting that learning objective. This is part of the revealing and not telling. You have to help the people to say this is what the kind of revelations that this group needs to get to. If someone says a comment that is closer to that, then I am going to encourage that comment. It's just reinforcement. It's classical conditioning. You're reinforcing the comments that help you get to there and you're ignoring the comments that don't get you there. It might seem kind of harsh but you have a limited amount of time with people and you want to maximize the effectiveness of that time.  

Another thing you can think about in the discussion is as you're going from specific to general and general to specific. What this means is that you start your discussion with specific experiences by saying "what happened in this moment and in this room?" "I had to brute force this one puzzle." Then you get toward a general conclusion. You help them think about how does that behavior work out in your day-to-day life? I was in an escape room a couple of months ago where I brute forced a lock because I got so frustrated with it that I wasn't willing to go through the general process to do it.  Then you can think about, oh, well actually in my day-to-day life that's also how I approach problems sometimes. I spend a lot of time on it but if I don't think I can get through it in a normal way I will just try to go around it. 

That's the kind of general conclusions you want people to get to of course they're going to match your learning objectives. Then, you also start with general questions like "how did you feel in this room?" Then, as you move along in the discussion you're asking questions that are more specifically tied to those objectives.  

I want you to think about this path of the discussion of the general to specific and the specific to general as being laid on top of each other.  You are moving the discussion through a particular trajectory. You're not just letting people say whatever, you're guiding them.

Disruptive Paricipants

 Let me talk about disruptive participants. This is a facilitators biggest fear. How do you deal with people who are outside of what you are expecting? There are some people who will just talk, and talk, and talk, just talk, and talk, and talk. Sometimes they're great because if other people are quiet it will encourage them to speak up. Sometimes they will try and take over, so you really as a facilitator have to manage them by saying "Thank you for that, let's hear from someone who hasn't spoken yet."  If you set guidelines in the beginning. Some of the guidelines can be, you want to make sure that everyone gets a chance to share. In our intergroup relations talks we call this step up, step back. Step up if you are talking and step back if you're talking a lot. Step back and let other people talk.  Reminding people about the guidelines, you as a facilitator have to enforce the guidelines, you can do it in a very gentle way.

Quiet people are the opposite of the talkers. You have no idea why they're so quiet. Sometimes you do have to check in with them. They might be upset. They might be emotionally upset by something that happened. It could be that they're the ones that are bored and they don't see any value in this, so that's really important to get them to talk. If they're bored they might have a legitimate objection to the way the conversation is going. We haven't addressed this important problem and when you bring that problem to the group then everyone else can deal with it and that's really important. Quiet people can be quiet for a lot of reasons, it's important to get them engaged. Engaging with them doesn't have to necessarily be in the large group. Sometimes people take people aside and figure out what's going on. 

Escape Room Enthusiasts are really particular to doing this with escape rooms because enthusiasts can totally throw off the dynamic of the session. In the room they might be someone, who at work is usually really quiet, they don't do much in terms of leading. Once they get in the room they're like "I know what I'm doing and take over." That can be fun for them and fun for the other people to see this different side of them. It can also get in the way of this natural, what you're trying to observe with the group and help them resolve, how they function at work. It's important you work with your enthusiasts in terms of how do help them understand what their role in the room should be and what the goals of the session are. That's really by saying, "this is what we want you to get out of this." Within the room too, you might need to send some sublte reminders to say "I know you're really excited about this, but can we also help other people to enjoy the experience in the same way?" During the discussion after the room, they might want to spend a lot of time talking about the puzzles or whatever, but, you're the leader and you have to focus on your path through the discussion.  

Turtles are people who just don't get it. Unfortunately, when you are teaching any group of people not everyone's at the same pace. Sometimes you're just going to have to let them go. You'll have to move on and hopefully, they can catch up later. If you have a co-facilitator it's really convenient because they can be the one's to say "Let me take you to the side and work with you on this." while the rest of the group moves on. 

Complaining people are actually the scariest in terms of, they're going to talk a lot, and they're going to be very loud. They're actually the easiest to deal with because you know what your learning objectives are. You know why you chose these activities. You really have to be confident and reinforce this idea of this is what we're doing and this is why we're doing it and the value it will have to your team. Another helpful thing is to ask the other participants, what did you get out of this activity? That can quiet the complainer because it's coming from their peers and also, they're seeing maybe I'm the only one who has this issue.  

Space aliens are just people who make some completely wild comment and you have no idea how to respond or what to do about them. Usually, it's just best to move on. You might ask again just for clarification and look at their team members and see if  this is the kind of thing they normally say? Is this really weird and the team members also think it's weird, then you can move on, or you can try to work with them a little more. I would say don't stay confused. Don't stay engaged too long with comments you don't understand because it's just going to take away from actually meeting the learning objectives if you're spending time up there going around in circles with someone. It is kind of like the turtle approach. You just have to move on and focus on your goals.

I have another comment here. We had management play a room and requested to know things like who did what the fastest, who pressed the do not press button and who achieved the physical challenges. 

This is the kind of thing. I'll mention Liz Blaise at the end who, she does these analysis of rooms where she really looks at those kind of in game moments and analyzes what happens during the team play. I think that that could be really useful. For you as a facilitator I think it's better to rely on the participants to analyze those things. That's why a debriefing after your room can be useful where you can bring up these kind of questions and see what did it actually mean for the participants in the room when they were doing that? They're providing the analysis, you're not providing the analysis. It's taking the load off of you and putting it on the participants to really decide what did this mean?

That's the approach I would say, if you have people asking you to do that. I think that that's something that you could tell them it's really better when it comes from the participants to decide these things. If the management wants to watch the video themselves and look at who did what the fastest, then they can certainly do that. You can provide the video if you want. I think that your efforts are better spent in facilitating conversations around that sort of thing and not necessarily providing analysis unless, you're someone like Lizz and are really devoting your time to that, and of course, charging for it.

 Facilitation Style

Facilitation style. These are just three styles. There's a continuum of them but, you have to think about, you as a facilitator is going to be different from you in your day-to-day life. There's definitely going to be some similarities there because it's still you. How you engage with a group of people, especially a large group of people, can be real surprising how different you are. In terms of leading a discussion and asking questions of people, there's really a couple of main styles. 

The Moderator style. This is the style I use where you throw out a question, you get a response. You kind of let the participants talk to each other.  You say "What do other people think about that?" or "What's another example of that?"  You're really helping the participants build on each other's comments. Every so often you will summarize what you're hearing and move to a different point. 

Whereas a commentator style is much more responding to each individual comment. "Oh, that's really interesting, what do you think about this?" Your engagement is much more one-on-one and you're speaking after each comment. Whereas a moderator style you only speak after every 5-10 comments. 

The style is really up to you in terms of the various strengths and weaknesses in both. Some people prefer to have the facilitator be more active. Some participants prefer that . They really want to feel like you are doing something in order to get that value out of it. Sometimes people really enjoy the opportunity to force themselves to engage with each other. Especially if it's a team that has really good rapport. They don't necessarily need you commenting on every comment. They might prefer that you just guide their overall discussion. That's just something you'll have to feel out as you get into it. 

The Devil's advocate is someone who is really challenging to the participants. I would say do this at your own risk, maybe if you went to law school then you would have a better sense of how to do this very well. It's really something that can be intimidating to a lot of people. You would want to do it with the right type of group. Some groups are very competitive, macho, this style might work really well for them because they feel like, "I am being forced to think."

Whatever you do, be positive. You don't have to be super sunny, but you don't want to spend time complaining or making frustrated faces at people. You really want to feel like you've conveyed a sense that you trust the group to get to their objective and that you think where they're going is a good place, and that they're on a good path because you are leading that path. 

Then an authoritative presence. You really have to control the room. This enforcing the guidelines, making sure people are being respectful towards each other. Making sure you stay on that path and not allowing tangents. Again, you have a short amount of time with people so you really have to make sure that you are getting to those learning objectives.

Pitch Your Strenghts

I'll end by talking about how do you pitch these things? The pitching is really about knowing what your room brings? What your capacities are? What your business model is? I'm sort of presenting this as, here's how you take your escape room, generally as it is, and adding some activities around in order to say we're going to offer something really valuable to a corporate group. What you offer is all around those things. What's in your room that makes it fun? What's in your room that can help a team learn or reach a certain objective to be more high performing? What kind of activities can you do that will build on those objectives or helps people to reflect on what they experienced in the room that they can actually take back to their workplace? 

5 Reasons to host your next Corporate Event or Team Building activity at Cracked it! Escape Games.

What's your business model like? How much are you actually going to charge in terms of what's the value of your time? How much do you have to train your game masters to do this if they're going to be the facilitators? Are you open during the day already? Is it going to be an extra [inaudible] to do this? 

Anticipating objections is really about, you know, "I don't want to pay extra, I just want to do this fun thing." You have to convince them that their's some value in not just having fun. Active learning is not just about having fun, it's also about learning. That's where the reflective part comes in. The activities that you're going to do are actually going to take what people experienced in the room and actually apply it to their day-to-day work lives. Those are the things that you have to develop a pitch for. 

Summary of Today

I do want to spend a little time for questions. Here's a summary, and more questions. I wrote a book that summarized a lot of my experience over the years. I have all the things I talked about in more detail. It has sample agendas in there. More activities that you can can do with different groups. All those assessments that are in the PDF on my website.

I talk about managing your own emotions and managing the emotions of participants because it's something that I, personally, have had the most trouble with as a facilitator. How do you deal with the fact that you have emotions and you have these emotional reactions? It's nice to think that all these things are going to happen and I'll be this nice in control facilitator and I'm going to just lead this group through this activity. When you get surprised, or you get angry, or just super excited about something, You can become a disruption to the session as well. It's important to think of your own, triggers is what we call them in the intergroup relations field. Just what makes you emotional and how are you going to move past them and then working with customers all day.

If you wanted to talk more with me about doing some of this stuff or setting this stuff up, I am available. I also wanted to give a shout out to Liz [] who does, if you want to outsource all of this. She does like I mentioned, will do video analysis of your groups as an add-on. She creates a whole report and sends it to you. You can put your logo and everything on it and send it to the corporation. You won't necessarily be doing it all yourself. Dave is now asking. 

So we're just starting out, we haven't had groups do the team building just specifically yet. We have it as an option. Right now we haven't had any groups to do this. I've done these activities with my research labs around the escape rooms. I would say that that's where my experience with this particular, with doing it as the escape room plus the activities comes from. Other questions.

Also if you offer these kinds of resources. If you want to pitch yourself a bit on there, I definitely think it would be great for people to comment with their links and email addresses so that people can contact you for more. 

Q: David asks when people break things how do you incorporate that?

That could be a good opportunity to talk about that is there that type of behavior in the workplace too? It's so interesting. I have an example from one of my classes where we played this game, it's called, starpower. It's basically creating, the thing of it is you're trading coins and trying to get the most coins. What it does is set up the idea of social class because at some point the group that has the most valued coins gets to set the rules for the rest of the groups. 

It's so funny because I was teaching this class and we were talking about social class. Talking about privilege and oppression. While they were playing the game they completely forgot about all that. It was winner take all. Some people were trying to cheat and hide their coins and other people, the group had gotten power to set the rules. It was so funny when we had the discussion afterwards to talk about how did you play that game? When you think about how this relates to real social class. They had this like, "oh, my gosh, I can't believe I did that. When I was in power I tried to deny it to everyone" UC Santa Cruz are very socially active. I'm advocating for socialism, and I'm a Bernie Sanders fan. So, it was really funny to see how people are different when they're playing a game versus how they think their attitude is in real life. That's also where the dicussions afterwards and the reflection can play a role. Once they understood how much they had gotten caught up into the game and how it changed their behavior, they could also understand that in a social class and in real life. This is what happens when people are wealthy or when they are making policies. They may not intentionally be saying , "Oh, I want to screw the poor people." It's more that they might have different goals than if you're looking at it from an outside perspective. This is why active learning is very fun!  Because you can really help people understand things in a different way. 

I am going to end it there. My email addres is I'm also on the Facebook groups if anyone wants to message me on Facebook as well. Thank you all so much for watching, and your questions. Especially Dave and James and Schober industries. I will end it there! Have a good day everyone.

Until next time, what do YOU think? Let me know in the comments below.

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Brian Vinciguerra is a retired Marine and is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of Cracked it! Escape Games in Jacksonville, North Carolina.