Meeting ice breakers, whether games or other activities, can provide vital energy to meetings or other gatherings of people. Well chosen ice breakers ease people through the discomfort of getting to know others better.
However, a badly chosen meeting ice breaker can cause more discomfort than it cures. We’ve all felt the pounding heart, the drying mouth, and the rising panic as your turn to introduce yourself creeps….up…..slowly….. No one enjoys ice breakers from hell, so choose wisely.
Here are some tips on how to choose appropriate ice breaker games…
Things to consider when choosing a meeting ice breaker:
1. Size of the group
2. Purpose of the meeting or gathering
3. Purpose of the ice breaker
4. Preparation required
5. Materials required
6. Time available
1 – Size of the group – some ice breakers work best in large groups of 20 or more, some are better for small groups of 5 or so.
Tip – if you have too many people for the ice breaker, split into smaller groups of the right size and run the icebreakers concurrently.
2 – Purpose of the meeting or gathering – what are you doing after the ice breaker? Are you brainstorming new ideas? Discussing year end results? Kicking off a new project? Match the mood of the ice breaker to the mood for the meeting.
Tip – Be ready to switch icebreakers if you mis-judged the mood on the day. Have a store of icebreaker ideas, ready for use when you need them.
3 – Purpose of the meeting ice breaker – Will it ease introductions, get mental juices flowing or just be downright silly?
Tip – icebreakers don’t have to be restricted to the start of meetings. Well timed icebreakers will lift flagging energy levels or encourage creativity.
4 – What preparation is required? – simple icebreakers are effective when explained clearly. More complicated icebreakers require preparation, and venture into team-building territory, possibly requiring different facilitation skills.
Tip – Choose simple icebreakers over complicated ones, and factor in preparation time.
5 – Materials required – there’s no baggage with verbal icebreakers! Pens and flip charts are usually required for meetings so that’s easy too. But if you’ve got bigger, bolder ideas involving ropes, scissors, balls, cards or other such fun, make sure you think this through!
Tip – make a checklist of materials and bring them. Be ready to improvise or switch icebreakers if you forget the crucial item or don’t have enough to go round.
6 – Time available – group energy levels will be zero if each one minute introduction takes five minutes! Be realistic about the time you have for the meeting ice breaker and stick to it.
Tip – choose a short punchy icebreaker to get energy levels up, and longer icebreakers when more disclosure is desired.
We are all a bit shy and a little awkward in group situations, so be kind to your fellows and use icebreakers. Ice breaker games or activities can speed up processes which left to their own devices are painfully slow or do not happen at all.
A well chosen icebreaker is worth it’s weight in… ice! Choose your meeting ice breakers wisely and you will reap the rewards many times over.