Last updated July 9, 2024

If you are providing workplace training, these icebreakers energisers and short exercises are for you with these free influencing skills activities usable in a training room or online.

5 influencing skills activities for workplace training

Influencing Skills Activities

1. One-Minute Pitch

Participants: 3 or more people.

Time Needed: 20 minutes.

Items Needed: Timer, notepads, and pens.

Purpose: The intention of this activity is to give participants a chance to practice their influencing skills through persuasive communication. Participants must convey an idea effectively in a short period as if they were in a lift (‘Elevator’ in the USA) with a decision-maker.

How to Run the Activity: To start off, participants need to spend 10 minutes thinking about a one-minute pitch idea and make some bullet point notes on the idea.

To guide them, explain that they should focus on:

  1. Introduction: Who you are and a brief background.
  2. Problem Statement: What problem would you like to solve or what need are you addressing?
  3. Solution: What is your idea or proposal? How does it solve the problem?
  4. Unique Selling Proposition: What makes your solution unique or better than others?
  5. Call to Action: What are you looking to get from the listener? (i.e., would you like a business meeting, investment or something else?).

As the training facilitator, if you feel that it might be difficult for the participants you are providing training for, to come up with ideas, you can prepare some case study examples listing the information and ideas for them.

Now put everyone into pairs and allow them 5 minutes to practice their pitch with their partner.

Explain also that:

  • The pitch they will be doing will need to be 1 minute long at the most.
  • So they will need to focus on giving a clear and confident delivery, maintaining eye contact, and using a compelling tone.

Now allow 5 minutes for this next part of the activity.

Each participant will present their one-minute pitch to their group.

One person in each group will use a stopwatch (they can use it from their phone) and stop the pitch if one minute is up and the pitch is not already finished.

After each person in the group has done a pitch, give each group 5 to 10 minutes to discuss their thoughts with each other, on how the pitches went, what worked well, what was compelling and what influenced them most if they liked the pitch.

They might also discuss what they found challenging and what they learned about crafting and delivering a persuasive one-minute pitch.

By the end of the activity, participants should have a better understanding of how to concisely and effectively communicate their ideas in a persuasive manner.

2. Consensus Building

Participants: 4 or more people.

Time Needed: 45 minutes.

Items Needed: Scenario cards, whiteboard, and markers.

Purpose: This can be one of the best influencing skills activities for getting team members to work together and to think in terms of how they can influence others. This activity gets everyone involved.

Participants will practice negotiating, compromise, and engage in decision-making as a team to allocate resources effectively.

Example Scenario: Sports Centre Expansion

Background: The Symonds Sports Centre has recently received funding for £70,000 to expand and improve its facilities. The management team of Symonds Sports Centre now need to decide how to allocate this money, i.e. what projects are deemed the most worthy, keeping in mind that this is a centre that is an independent business but that also relies on the local community. The centre also could do with attracting more members.

Potential Spending Options:

  • Fitness and Gym Area: There is a real need for new equipment to replace outdated machines that are +20 years old. There is also some space to expand the gym but this would need some of the budget. (Requires: £60,000)
  • Swimming Pool: Likewise, the pool area could also do with work, in particular pool maintenance, some new safety features, and a budget to offer more swimming classes. (Requires £35,000)
  • Sports Courts: The centre really could also do with spending money to do resurfacing work on the padel, tennis, and squash courts, in addition to getting some more equipment such as balls and racquets. (Requires £20,000)
  • Community Programmes: The centre would also like to spend money to offer new programmes such as belly dance, yoga, children’s sports camps, and kickboxing. (£10,000).

How to Run the Activity: Start by splitting everyone into groups of 4 and then giving them a handout of the budgets above (in the bullet points). (If you have extra people then 2 people can represent one department together).

Next, explain that in the scenario above (you might want to give the info above out on a handout), one person in the group will represent each option.

So one person has to push for the fitness & gym spending, one for the swimming pool, one for the sports courts, and one for the community programmes.

The groups will now spend 15 minutes discussing, debating, influencing and negotiating with each other to try and push the case for their department to get the money allocated to them.

Encourage them to consider factors such as the usage of facilities, the potential to attract new members to the centre, safety, and the benefit for the community.

By the end of the 15 minutes, the participants should have reached an agreement on how to spend the funding.

They should write down their final decision and the rationale behind it.

Now allow another 20 minutes (you can alter this according to how many groups you have) for each group to briefly present their decisions and the thinking behind these decisions.

I would suggest allowing for feedback, i.e. other groups can ask questions if they wish.

If you wish, you can also allow another 10 or 15 minutes for a class discussion on what they learned regarding being able (or not) to influence others during the activity and anything they learned.

You might wish to end the activity by explaining that listening skills, learning to compromise, and collaboration skills are all vital in building a unified approach.

Example Discussion Points

Fitness and Gym Area:

  • High demand for the latest sports machines and equipment.
  • Could attract more fitness enthusiasts and gym memberships.

Swimming Pool:

  • Regular maintenance is crucial for safety.
  • Swimming classes are good for the community.

Sports Courts:

  • New gear can attract more teams and tournaments.
  • Enhancing the courts could increase bookings and memberships and helps safety-wise.

Community Programmes:

  • Yoga and Pilates classes can attract different demographics.
  • Children’s sports camps can be good for the community, for getting parents in to see the facilities and bring in their own income.
Influencing skills PowerPoint slides

>> Influencing Skills Training Course Materials

3. Influence through Active Listening

Participants: 4 or more.

Time Needed: 30 to 40 minutes.

Items Needed: Notepads, pens, and a timer (on a phone as needed).

Purpose: Active listening skills are invaluable when it comes to effective communication and influencing others and this activity introduces active listening skills.

How to Run the Activity: Match participants up into pairs and allocate the role of speaker to one person and one to listener in each pair.

The speaker will talk about a recent work-related experience for 5 minutes, while the listener listens intently. Explain to the participants that the listener needs to try and avoid getting distracted.

The listener should try and avoid thinking of responses or anything they want to say, but instead to only focus on what is being said and to write down some bullet point notes on what is being said.

After the 5 minutes is up, allow another 5 minutes for the next stage.

The listener will spend a couple of minutes summarising back to the speaker, what they said and in as much detail as possible. In response, the speaker will give feedback to the listener on how accurate their memory is on the story told.

Now repeat the activity with the roles reversed.

After both have had a chance to be speaker and listener, you can add 10 minutes for a class discussion on what they have learned from this activity.

As the training facilitator you might ask them questions such as:

  • How was the experience of being a listener and speaker?
  • Is it easy or hard to listen?
  • How might listening impact influencing skills?

If it did not already come up in the discussion above, then you might want to explain that:

  • Listening skills are essential for building trust and understanding.
  • Listening skills help you to show empathy, which is crucial for influencing others positively.

4. Influence Hot Seat

Participants: 4-6.

Time Needed: 45 minutes.

Items Needed: Notepads, pens, and timer.

Purpose: This is one of my favourite influencing skills exercises as it requires quick thinking and persuasive replies in a high-pressure situation.

How to Run the Activity: Start by placing a chair (hot seat) in front of an arch of chairs, i.e. so that everyone in the arch is facing the hot seat. Now select or ask for a volunteer to sit in the hot seat.

Hand the person in the hot seat a scenario handout.

Example Scenario

You are at a company retreat where different teams are competing for a limited budget to organize a team-building event. Your team proposes a unique and adventurous outdoor activity that involves a weekend camping trip combined with team-building exercises. Other teams are advocating for more traditional options like a day at a spa or a city scavenger hunt. You need to start your case for the adventurous outdoor activity option and try to influence others to agree.

Notes for the Example Scenario

The person in the hot seat must convince the decision-makers that the adventurous camping trip is not only a fun and memorable experience but could also improve team cohesion and morale. To persuade others that this activity makes sense, they will need also to address any potential concerns about safety, logistics, and costs, while effectively contrasting it with other proposed activities.

Now allow 5 minutes for the person in the hot seat to make their argument (they might need a few minutes before though to write down some ideas).

The rest of the group will be the decision-makers.

Encourage other participants to ask challenging questions or present objections.

After this part of the activity is complete, have a general class discussion for 10 minutes about:

  • How well or not did the person in the hot seat answer the questions?
  • How persuasive were they?

Rotate roles so each participant gets a turn in the hot seat but with each participant facing a different challenging scenario.

Note: If you are doing a workshop that also teaches the AIDA model (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action), you can tie this activity into the learning because it:

  • Enhances participants’ ability to think critically and respond effectively under pressure.
  • Provides practical insights into persuasive communication strategies that can be used in real-world situations.

5. Influence Networking

Participants: 6 or more people.

Time Needed: 60 minutes.

Items Needed: Networking exercise sheets, and pens.

Purpose: The last of our 5 influencing skills activities is about learning how to leverage professional networks to build your influence.

How to Run the Activity: In this first part of the activity you will allow 20 minutes.

Hand out networking exercise sheets to each participant. The sheets need to include space to record the following:

  • Name and department of each participant.
  • Their role within the organization.
  • One interesting fact about themselves.

Now instruct participants to walk around the room and have a short chat with as many people as possible.

They should discuss their roles, responsibilities, and any ongoing projects or initiatives. Furthermore, they should share one interesting fact about themself.

After the 20 minutes is up, ask participants to sit down and draw a simple map of their network connections.

Participants should identify individuals they connected with during the networking exercise and note their roles and potential influence within the organization.

You can then end this influencing activity with a class discussion about anything they have learned, such as anything interesting or thought-provoking that they discovered during their conversations.

Ask the question: What potential benefits do these new connections give you in terms of influence and collaboration?

Influencing Skills Training Materials

In addition to the influencing skills activities above, you might also be interested perhaps in the Influencing Skills training materials.

Influencing skills training materials package and PowerPoint slides
Dr Valeria Lo Iacono
Latest posts by Dr Valeria Lo Iacono (see all)