Why Debriefing is so Important to the Team Building Process


6a00e550388e768833017ee40a341d970d-800wiDebriefs follow team building activities because that is where the learning and AHA’s kick in.  It requires special facilitation skills and probing questions to coach and empower the participants.  It is the reason we do the activities!  The debrief has 3 important elements:

  • It fosters ongoing discussion about the day.
  • It focuses on what has been learned from each team building exercise.
  • It sets the tone for applying the learnings in the future.

Today’s blog is going to identify the elements needed to conduct a successful debrief for your team. 


When setting up the debrief after team building activities, make sure everyone can see and hear each other. The best way to accomplish this is through a circular setting where all participants and the facilitator are equal. If you hold this event outside, make sure you choose a spot that isn’t too windy or too sunny. The setting should ensure calmness, not obstacles.


The facilitator asks open-ended questions that instill creativity and interaction. It is important to ask questions that trigger creative thinking and genuine awareness. A 3-step process to get the ball rolling, according to Support Real Teachers, is:

  1. The What Questions. “What happened today?” “What was your experience during your team building exercises?”
  2. The So What Questions. “What was important?” “Why did we choose to do this activity?”
  3. The Now What Questions. “What did you learn?” “How will you use what you learned today at work and in your life?”


In order to give everyone a chance to participate, when a question is asked by the facilitator, each attendee can respond or say “pass.”  This day is about choices, and people learn at different rates. It is important that the facilitator or a designated scribe writes down each response without judging it one way or another.

The team building debrief needs to be…brief. Depending on the size of the group, 5-15 minutes is optimal. A good juicy debrief may take longer.  The most important thing is always ending with closure.


According to Team Building Success Coach, Larry Lipman, a great facilitator has the following characteristics during the debrief process. They:

  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Listen, listen, and listen some more.
  • Inolve the whole group.
  • Follow the group’s lead — go where they are going.
  • Do not judge any statement or person.
  • End the exercise with closure.

Fun Team Building is based in Atlanta and fosters activities that inspire building trust and employee motivation. Larry Lipman is a Team Building Specialist who successfully coaches participants into powerful and cohesive TEAMS. Follow Fun Team Building on Facebook for great motivational quotes and timely blog posts.

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