We’ve all been there. It’s that first date experience, except in the context of a meeting.
The nerves are just as real and you’re desperate to make a good first impression with people you’ve never met.
You’re looking for a nice, short, seamless ice breaker that won’t rock the boat, but will put attendees at ease and get them in the right frame of mind for a productive session.
Things in Common
One of the best ways to bond with people is by sharing the things you have in common, which makes this the perfect ice-breaker. Divide your delegates into small groups of three to four. Then ask them to write down five things they have in common (apart from physical characteristics). This might be supporting the same football team, enjoying the same tipple, or going to the same university. Whatever the outcome, it breaks the ice by demonstrating that delegates have a common bond between them.
When we’re suited and booted for work, it’s all too easy to take ourselves – and our fellow meeting attendees – too seriously. We’ve all got a party trick in us. This helps break the ice by getting us to laugh at ourselves. Perhaps attendees can wiggle their ears, lick the tip of their nose, make the Vulcan sign, touch their thumb to their wrist to show that they’re double jointed, perhaps they can recite a poem in Swahili or perform a tongue twister. Whatever attendees’ particular “talents”, showing them off will help break down barriers.
Again, remove the mystique from your fellow attendees by getting them to introduce themselves in a fun and personable way. You may ask them to tell the room what they did at the weekend. Or reveal the last thing that really made them laugh. Or their most embarrassing moment that is appropriate for such a setting.
Ask each attendee to tell the others as much about themselves as they can in a minute. Just two stipulations: they’re not allowed to hesitate and they’re not allowed to say the words “the” or “a”. The one who lasts longest or can make the full minute is the winner. This hopefully can cut through that frozen water by putting a smile on people’s faces and helping to humanise them.
Having a ball
The meeting leader/chairman invites delegates to make a circle. They then throw a big soft ball to an attendee. That person then has to say their name and reveal one fact about themselves (whether they are married, have kids, which football team they support, etc), they then throw the ball to another attendee who repeats the process. When everyone has had the ball at least once, the game starts again. This time, however, the person throwing the ball has to try and remember to name the person they are throwing the ball to. The person receiving the ball has to disclose another fact about themselves.
Posted by Julie Tucker