Professional Tips

Toys at important meetings? You bet!

For years I have brought balls, bendable objects, small mind puzzles, and other colorful and sensory-rich toys to meetings I facilitate. I have even encouraged new facilitators that I train to do the same. Why?

1)    Toys bring out your inner child. Children are generally uninhibited and curious. They tend to be open to new things and can be very creative. When adults “play”, they bring out their inner child – therefore unlocking some of the barriers we put upon ourselves as adults.

2)    Colors and playful objects remind us of generally good times. This reminder, even at an unconscious level while playing with toys or coloring, can help people feel more relaxed and comfortable.

3)    Sensory stimulation ignites our whole brain. Let your brain come alive with more stimulation than just the meeting can hold. With mind puzzles you can light the logical left side and colored pencils and blank paper you can light up the creative right side of the brain. A win-win!

4)    People may actually need the toys to participate fully in your meeting. One rough estimate of the population shows that up to 30% of people have sensory integration dysfunction. This is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects how people take in sensory information and process it in their brains. So people with hypo-sensitivity need lots of stimulation – these are the people who shake the change in their pockets, tap pens on the desk, doodle on paper constantly while still attentively listening to the presentation. Toys and other sensory objects at these meetings can help keep these people actively engaged in your topic! On the other side are people who are hyper-sensitive and their central nervous systems get overwhelmed with too much input – so have a space where they can be free of these objects.

I have only regretted the times I did not bring toys and sensory objects to meetings because of fear of the group being “too mature.” I have used these items with high level elected officials, lawyers, doctors, engineers, scientists, business leaders, and international non-profit leaders around the world. They make people smile and I usually get much better results from the meeting!


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Charter agreements aren’t just for short-term project teams

The team charter is a written agreement that spells out the charge given to the team and the responsibilities of all the people involved. It should be discussed, agreed to, and then signed by all the members of the team, the management sponsors, and other appropriate people.

The charter should include the following elements at a minimum:

  • A description of the problem that the team is to address or their charge for existence.
  • All expected outcomes of the team effort.
  • All parameters relevant to the effort: staff resources available, use of a facilitator, available or required training, technical support available, deadlines or time constraints, other groups who need to be consulted, options which are “off the table”, and decision-making authorities.
  • Decision-making process to be used by the team.
  • Method by which the team will communicate with management and other key stakeholders.
  • Names, roles and responsibilities of all team members, management sponsors, the facilitator, and other appropriate people.


This essential set of elements create the core structure for helping to set a team up for success. But beyond teams, these elements are critical for any group function at any level. Think about it – if any of these aren’t clear, the group may struggle.


Teams may also go on to create agreements on how to work together such as: encouraged group behaviors and norms, meeting frequency, conflict strategies, and roles of the individual members on the team. While not all of the agreement areas just listed are relevant to each team, working through them will help the team address problems in advance. It is up to the individual team to decide which areas they wish to use.


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Interested in continuous learning or programs that make a difference? Check these out…

Kiwanis Key Leader

LeaderShape –

Creative Theater Experience – Ideas Worth Spreading –

Organization Development Network –

International Positive Psychology Association –

Academy of Management –

Triple Impact Practitioners Program –

Fielding Graduate University –

Saint Martin’s University –

You Tube video ”Jessica Daily Affirmation” –


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