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The Haribo Game - How to liven up your next meeting

The Haribo Game

Have you ever given a presentation or facilitated a meeting where some (or all!) of the participants look like they are slowly drifting off to sleep?

Despite turning the thermostat up, talking in a slow, monotonous voice and thrilling them with 120 powerpoint slides about financial reporting, you still can’t seem to arouse them from their slumber?

Dribbles, snorts and twitches prevail from the back corner. It’s their fault, right? They should have gone to bed earlier, paid more attention, drank more coffee and quite frankly, be more enthusiastic about discussing the 5 year plan or the findings from the last audit report. Right? Wrong?

The fact that they are now soundly snoring at the back and dribbling over each other is in fact your fault. Yes, your fault!

This is your meeting and you are in charge of the energy levels in the room. If they are nodding off to sleep and dreaming of fluffy bunnies, then something or someone needs to change their state sufficiently to spark their interest.

This is a real passion area for me and over the years I have seen the above situation played out in meetings rooms across the World. In some cases, the presenter is blissfully unaware that his audience is simply counting sheep rather than revising budgets.

In other cases, the meeting facilitator has recognised the “zzzz’s” floating around the room, but has neither the talent, nor confidence to address it.

However, there are thousands of ways to avoid the situation above. Some require complex mastery of NLP, corporate psychology and a great understanding of meeting room dynamics.

However, some tricks require nothing more than some simple props and a willingness to give something different a try. Ready to give one a go?

Here’s one such trick. It’s called the Haribo Game ;

Before the meeting starts, invest in a decent size bag of Haribo sweets. Your choice, although my personal preference is the Star Mix. Choose something that has lots of variety in the bag, not a giant bag of Cola bottles for example, as the game will very quickly have the opposite effect to what you want.

Then, at the beginning of the meeting, pass the bag around and tell each person to choose one sweet. Once everyone has a sweet, go round in a circle and ask each personally individually to describe their sweet.

  • What does it look like? A Cola Bottle, a car, a frog or maybe a shoe even?

  • How does it feel? Squishy, wobbly, light or maybe sticky?

  • Then ask them to describe how it smells. What does it smell like? Orange, sugar, lemon, cake?

  • Then ask them to taste it and describe the taste. Yummy, sweet, sour, gorgeous?

  • Ask them to imagine what sound the sweet would make if it could make a sound. Get them to speak it out loud.

  • And then finally, ask them to imagine another use for the sweet, other than it being just a sweet. Blue Tac, ear plugs and hair gel are some of the best answers I have heard.

Clearly this game is just a bit of fun and clearly there are times and occasions when this would not be appropriate. Handing out a bag of Haribo to an auditorium of 100 people is simply not practical, nor a good use of time. Playing the game when presenting to the board of directors is probably also not a sensible move. Although hearing the HR director “moo” like a cow or the Sales director sniffing a milk bottle could be an interesting experience.

The game obviously works well in small meetings and within a safe environment.

Apart from it being a bit of fun, you will immediately see that it raises the energy levels in the room. Laughter, banter, smiles are your best friends when it comes to keeping people’s attention.

But that’s not all. The really powerful bit here is that without them knowing, you have very simply, but effectively, stimulated all 5 of their senses. Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight and Hearing.

In real terms, you have poured rocket fuel into their brain, stuck TNT into their ears and dynamite in their mouths, stimulating just about every neuron, synapse and brain cell you possibly could.

The sugar will also be pulsing around their system, slapping the sleepy demons round the chops and giving them a short term boost of energy, just about when most people would start to flag. Asking them to describe other uses for the sweet will also have jogged the creative side of their brain, awakening a whole new slumbering, yet powerful beast.

Their brain will be on fire, rearing to go and thirsty for more. And guess what, they are in your meeting, listening to you.

All you need to do now is burst into “meeting mode” and orchestrate a fantastic meeting, where “Snoozy Sally” has been transformed into “Stimulating Sally” and “Dozy Dave” is now “Dynamic Dave”.

However, have the Haribo ready, just in case the sleep fairy does pay a visit again.

And the whole point of this, is the fact that an attentive participant is an active participant, listening to what you say, sharing ideas, being creative and generally adding value. More so than they would if they were left half asleep.

The above is just one simple, but effective trick to use in your next meeting. Couple it with some of my other tried and tested methods and you will have your meetings buzzing!

Thanks for reading and for more ideas, please feel free to contact me.

Please note, no Haribo’s were harmed in the making of this blog, nor am I on any form of sponsorship deal with them.

David Stack, founder of Brightfrog, Transforming the way IT does business. Feel free to contact me to see how we can help transform your IT team. (

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