Icebreakers can be a great way to start a meeting, as they set the tone for the presentation. They are helpful in relaxing participants, which then makes them more receptive to listening and contributing. Icebreaker activities also can create a “team atmosphere” and motivate participants to work with others in a cooperative manner. A good icebreaker reinforces the content and goals of a team-building or training session.
An icebreaker should not be too long, otherwise it might undercut the more serious work of the meeting. It should occur at the beginning of the meeting or speech and then at appropriate times during the program, as needed. While icebreakers can take a variety of forms, those that promote interaction, sharing, and team building are the most effective.
- When creating your own icebreakers, keep the following in mind:
- Have a clear objective. What do you want to accomplish with the exercise?
- Simplicity is important. It needs to be easy to explain, understand and do.
- Timing is everything. Schedule your ice breaker at a moment that will have a positive impact on your meeting.
- Practice makes perfect. Work with the concept until you are confident in your ability to employ it.
- Reinforce meeting goals. Design the icebreaker to make a point that relates to some aspect of the meeting.
- Consider using props. Sometimes objects inspire the most creative exercises.
Many people don’t like participating in group activities, because they feel awkward and uncomfortable in front of groups. So be prepared to receive some negative pushback once the icebreaker is initiated. Make sure you let people know that they won’t be asked to do anything that would be embarrassing or demeaning. With some encouragement, most people will go along with the group. Your goal is that everyone who participates in the activity gets something out of it, no matter their level of enthusiasm. With that in mind, make sure you or the presenter attempts to draw these less enthusiastic types into the activity and seek out feedback on how to improve after the event’s conclusion.
If you are looking for inspiration for icebreakers, there are so many resources available. Enter the term “icebreakers for meetings” into a search engine and you’ll get a ton of results. Most sites for trainers or human resources folks will have information on these, as they are widely used in these arenas. Here are some sites I would recommend: