Visual Energizers

Energizers intentionally disrupt participants' mental modes and patterns. They break the ice at the beginning of an event. They move learning modes from passive listening to active engagement. They can safely provide an opportunity to model good group dynamics, such as withholding judgment and giving constructive feedback. And they can shift individuals' focus between self-reflection and group participation. 

In all cases, energizers should end with a group reflection, giving participants the opportunity to relate lessons learned back to the overall purpose of the event. Energizers for the sake of energizers may be fun and build esprit de corps, but alone don't advance the purpose of the event. The best energizers serve as a model and microcosm for the overall event. 

Here's a collection of some visual energizers. 

Rope Puller

Participants collectively draw one picture or write one word using a single marker tethered by a number of strings.

Models accepting the facilitative process, group dynamics, leader/follower roles, intuition, and the learning arc.

Models accepting the facilitative process, group dynamics, leader/follower roles, intuition, and the learning arc.

Zentangle

Participants contribute their own repeating abstract patterns to an overall composition.

Models reflection, meditation, individual mindfulness, and group processes.

Self-Portraits

Participants draw simple line self-portraits. Portraits can either be realistic or metaphoric.

Self-portraits model withholding judgment, supportive feedback, individual perspectives,  and team diversity.

Self-portraits model withholding judgment, supportive feedback, individual perspectives,  and team diversity.

Droodles

Participants make up stories to explain simple, abstract drawings.

Droodles model creative thinking, abstraction, story telling, and celebration.

Droodles model creative thinking, abstraction, story telling, and celebration.

Exquisite Corpse/Telestrations

A visual "telephone game," where participants alternatively draw and caption in a series.

Models communications, systems thinking, and power dynamics.

Learning Symbols

In two minutes, draw a symbol that represents a learning experience you've had. Share with the group

Models story telling, constructive feedback, and group diversity.

Graphic Puzzle

Participants must fit together a large puzzle and color it so that the elements do not mismatch. 

Models systems thinking, communications, production blocking, leader/follower relationships, supply chain thinking.

Me as a Superhero

Participants draw themselves as a superhero, complete with costume, backstory, list of superpowers, weaknesses, sidekick, and villain. Be sure to include male and female versions. This idea comes from Trent Wakenight, Marker Ninja.

Models self awareness, leadership styles, team diversity, and story telling.

Kinetic Sculptures

Captures participants ideas and input on perfectly balanced pieces of moving art.

Collaborative Communities - Kinetic Sculpture facilitation at International Forum of Visual Practitioners 2016 in Washington DC. Facilitated by Brian Tarallo, Heather Martinez, Trent Wakenight, Lauren Green, and Dean Meyers. Designed by Kevin Reese.

Models diversity, future visioning, collaboration, and culture.