During the last twelve years I have had the pleasure of performing team building events for corporations, government agencies, non-profits, small business, school groups, professional development for teachers, and even the Air National Guard!  Within these wonderful groups  were all kinds, “makes and models” of wonderful people.  My policy is to work with everyone who wishes to hire me as a team building facilitator.  Luckily, I have met people from all walks of life, people from all over the world and people of many diversities.   My door is always open to those whose teams are broken, teams are newly forming or teams that just need a little boost.  I have worked on site at the companies of my clients and I have worked in hotel meeting rooms.  Fortunately, I am independent and do not have contracts with any one establishment.

My message today has to do with consideration.  I hope everyone takes into account how small independent business owners, such as myself, look forward to every team building date set on the calendar.  Please think twice about cancellations.  Understandably, things happen, but cancelling a date leaves a gap on which additional business has perhaps been turned away.  Naturally, the client is always right, of course, but sometimes those who are getting a steady paycheck are not completely aware of the hardships small business owners face by suffering lost income due to cancellations.  Thank you for understanding and I hope to work with your team in the future.

TEAMbuilding: Creative ways to create successful teams! Tuesday, October 7, 2014 Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs Want to discover the secrets of building successful teams, or learn new team building activities you can share with your peers, colleagues & conference attendees! Then this session is for you. Join us on October 7th at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga as Terrie Gifford, Distinguished Toastmaster and member of the National Speakers Association delivers an interactive presentation on the benefits of team building! This interactive presentation will showcase the benefits of team-building in the hospitality field followed by fun and engaging activities for everyone. In the hospitality world, we know you are a part of multiple teams: client teams, peer teams, work teams – all those teams can get overwhelming! We want to show you how to work better within your teams, so everyone can be more successful. Discover what bonds people together and how to make them accomplish more together. Come away with actual activities and exercises you can use immediately to motivate and improve productivity for all your teams. CIC contact hours: 2.5 hours (Domain E: Human Resources)

Many committees who want to have a team building event try to save money and resources by utilizing their own human resources managers to lead activities.  Why does this not work well?  Because your employees do not view the human resource people as “part of the team” when they are leading the event.  That is why it makes more sense to invest some training dollars in bringing in an experienced professional.

One of my friends with pre-teen children told me this:  “The last vacation we took was completely ruined by my kids playing too many video games.  We just couldn’t get them to interact with us.  The car trip for my husband and me was frustrating because we never had any conversation with the kids the whole road trip and not much out of the car, either.”

Ughhh.. .I am sure you can relate to this (although I hope not).

My friend went on:  “Seriously, it was an absolute disaster.  It was so frustrating.  It all started with the car trip.  The kids’ grandma gave them ipads for Christmas.  We mistakenly let them have their ipads for the trip and they played games every single second it seemed like.  At every restaurant, in the morning in the hotel room and they even wanted to take the ipads to the beach!  I missed their company and they were right there with us!  It was a battle to get them to stop playing games.  It was a battle to get them to do anything that wasn’t on their ipad.”

Luckily, we have an interesting solution that I am hoping can help you the way it did my friend.

Imagine if your kids thought the car trip was the BEST PART of the whole vacation??  It is possible.

11 games to play with people in a car.  Safe for drivers to participate.  Can also be played around a table.  Suitable for youth, teens, seniors and adults
This CD has 11 games to play with people in a car. Safe for drivers to participate. Can also be played around a table. Suitable for youth, teens, adults and seniors

Improv for the Car is the solution to bring your family back together having fun and enjoying every part of the vacation… starting with the road trip.

As a summer recreation program organizer it’s difficult to know how to hire a good presenter, who will both entertain and engage their audience. Here are some ideas to help make that decision.

1) Does the presenter have some accreditation of some type? Do they have teacher certification or other type of on-going work with children, such as providing after-school workshops or Arts in Education programs?

2) Have they been fingerprinted by BOCES? This indicates they have no criminal record.

3) How do they plan to engage their audience? Just “entertainment” is not enough. If you want that memorable experience that really “sticks” with the kids, be sure to ask how they involve their audience.

4) Are they formally trained or affiliated with any other professional speaking organizations like Toastmasters International or the National Speakers Association? This means they are professionals and take their presentations seriously, but may not necessarily give a serious presentation. Laughter and lots of fun are important to children’s events. Having professional affiliations also means the presenter will not possess annoying speaking habits like saying ‘um” or “ah” every two seconds.

5) Do they have a website? This is a good way to get an overall picture of the presenter. What else do they do? Without a website, it begs the question, “Are you for real?”

6) Does their program offer a “Life Skill” benefit? Be sure the program has a purpose.

Using these tips will help any summer program organizer come up with a great presenter, rather than a “ho-hum, run-of-the-mill, same-old, corny, hokey-jokey” type of presenter.  And the kids will love you for it!

What is the Secret of Team Building?


Deepak Chopra has declared three essential “ingredients” for successful teams.

They must have 1) “shared vision, 2) emotional bonding, and 3) every member compliments the strengths of each other.”  Something I would like to add is that successful teams also compensate for weaknesses.  Actually, Dr. Chopra mentions that his weakness is in execution (getting things started and completed), therefore he teams with people who are good at execution to compliment his ability to be “futuristic, adaptable and strategic.”

One of the most difficult and complex elements of good team is emotional bonding.  Dr. Chopra tells us that each team member must be “free of resentments and jealousies.”  In addition, team members show the positive feelings of “affection, attention and appreciation” toward one another if they are on a successful team.

Sometimes teams need reminders of the big picture.  Is your shared vision clearly stated and agreed upon by all?  Are you hearing bickering, complaining, put downs or snide remarks?  Are your team members not pitching in to help?  These are signs that your team may be in trouble.

To watch Dr. Chopra’s video:  https://www.deepakchopra.com/video/view/507/ask_deepak__



Team Training Today

Leading Groups to Greater Productivity



Dolphins can communicate by making noises that replicate their names.  This is helpful when they are traveling through murky waters.  They hear each other, so they can stay together.  This was reported on ABC Diane Sawyer tonight (Feb. 21st) on the 6:30 p.m. national news.


In human groups, hearing our name helps us to feel connected to our groups.  Therefore, take a lesson from the dolphins if you want to build your team starting in the bonding stage.  Use the names of your team members often to make them feel a part of your team.


A simple tip to better team management.

San Francisco-based Keas Wellness start-up proves that team building creates a healthy work-place environment.

Team building keeps employees participating and improves the workplace environment.  Keas seeks to build belonging and esteem among workers, all while optimizing engagement in its health program – its engagement rate is over 70 percent.”

Here is the full article:
Managers and Business Owners:
Be sure you are fostering a sense of belonging and esteem among your team members.  Suggest creating a team slogan or chant and use it before and after your team meetings.
“When we work together, we get more accomplished than if we’d been working alone.”Terrie Gifford



Recently I had the pleasure of providing a training session for 27 H&R Block managers for Eastern New York.  During the session I suggested they use storytelling as one way to motivate their teams.  Here is a great example everyone can use:

“The Rebellion Against the Stomach,” Rewritten by Terrie Gifford

(As adapted from The Book of Virtues, William Bennett)


One day a few body parts decided to take the stomach to task for not working as hard as the rest of the others.  The brain complained it had to think of how to obtain food for the stomach. The hands complained they had to toil all day to get money to buy food and then make it for the stomach. The feet complained they had to support the body doing all those jobs for the stomach.  The mouth complained it had to do all the chewing for the stomach.  They decided to go on strike.

Several days later all the body parts were very weak.  Eventually the brain declared it might be wrong.  It occurred to them the stomach may have been working on its own all along.  “It’s true,” the body parts agreed, “the stomach has been benefiting from getting the food from us, but he’s been sending most of it right back to us as fuel for our labors.”

Moral of the story:  Either we all work together, or nothing works at all.

Be sure to appreciate the “stomach” on your team.

You Can Learn Improv!

Watch this video to find out how you can increase your communication skills like public speaking, social graces and confidence!