5 ways to break the ice at meetings

If you want to make participants feel comfortable and at ease talking in meetings, why not kick-start things with an ice-breaker?

Whether your meeting is among colleagues or people are meeting each other for the first time, getting the ball rolling can be difficult. But it doesn’t need to be.

Birdseye View of a Table with a Large Piece of Paper on it with Images of Gears

Here are our favourite 5 favourite icebreaking techniques:

1. Get there first

If you’re hosting a meeting, this is rule number one. Not only is it polite and professional, but it also means you can meet everyone individually as they arrive.

This means you can ask them a few questions about themselves, learn a few key facts and introduce them to people you might think are of interest to them. Once the meeting gets going, you’ll have won half the battle as everyone will have a good idea of who’s who and why they are there.

2. Divide and conquer

Small meetings aren’t a problem but if you’ve got more than six people, then it can be hard for everyone to have a say. You’ll often find in big groups that one or two people dominate, leaving others out in the cold.

A good technique is to divide and conquer. If you’ve prepared for the meeting, you should know what people are there for – split the group up accordingly and let them discuss among themselves for a bit before bringing the group back together to share ideas.

3. The 20 second pitch

This is great whether everyone knows each other or are total strangers.  Give everyone 20 seconds to say their name, company and one thing they want to get from the meeting.

It’s a quick and effective way of getting people talking. Once people have spoken for just a bit they’re more likely to relax and talk more throughout the meeting. It even works among colleagues as often people in meetings don’t want to pitch up and will just keep themselves to themselves. This makes sure everyone gets a say.

4. Physical prompters

We’re not suggesting you give someone an actual physical nudge but by using an object, any object, you can get people focussing and thinking differently.

For example, bring in a box of chocolates and ask how it relates to your meeting. Even if it has no actual link, people will start to think of one and get talking.

5. Play games

If all this fails, one great way to get the conversation flowing is by using games. Try and keep them work related, for example, get everyone to write down their first job or business idol and put it in a bowl. The pieces are paper are then pulled out and everyone has to try and connect them to the person.

Another great way to get people who don’t know each other talking is for everyone to offer a funny fact about themselves or reveal their worst job.

Posted by Ashleigh Sharp

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