Getting a group to focus is an incredibly valuable tool, whether you're running a meeting, workshop or rehearsal. Spending a few minutes before a session can really help to establish concentration, balance and connections so here are a few tried and tested techniques for you to explore with your own groups.
This short exercise can calm and focus a rowdy group and lead to a more productive session.
First make sure there's no audible clock ticking sound. Ask your group to close their eyes. Get a stopwatch or timer ready and from the moment you hit go, ask the group to count to 30 silently in their heads. Ask them to put a hand in the air when they think 30 seconds have passed. Take note of those closest to the time, and announce the winner or even award a prize!
Structured breathing exercises are very valuable for settling group anxiety, stress or excess energy.
Ask the group to breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds and out for eight seconds. Count along with them, guiding them through the counts. After a couple of rounds, increase this to 5/5/10 and then after a while leave the individuals to count for them themselves.
A body scan can bring a group into the present moment, releasing external worries and unhelpful thoughts and ruminations.
Ask the group to close their eyes and focus on one body part at a time, noticing and observing sensations, tension or feeling there. Start with the feet, and move slowly up through areas that hold tension, up through the calves, knees, thighs, abdomen chest, shoulders, hands and lastly the face. Encourage them to relax the jaw, lips, cheeks, eyes and brow. End the body scan by focusing on a few deep, long breaths.
Count to Three
This simple counting game challenges vocal, physical and mental focus.
In pairs, group will count to three, taking it in turns to say each number. For example:
Player A. One
Player B. Two
Player A. Three
Player B. One
Player A. Two (and so on!)
Aim for a steady, confident rhythm and flow. When this is refined, swap out each number at a time and replace it with a sound and/or gesture. Eventually each team will have a repeated phrase of three sounds, something that requires focus and team work.
Walking at the same pace and with the same step rhythm as others in the group requires listening and co-ordination, which are excellent for refining focus.
Ask the group to walk around the space. Then ask them to try and fall into the same footstep rhythm and speed as each other. Ask them to speed up or slow down - you can guide this or leave them to silently self-manage for a bigger challenge.
What other techniques do you use to gain focus with your groups? Share them below!