Top icebreakers for meetings

It’s no secret that some meetings can be awkward, especially if they’re between employees who have never met before, or who meet infrequently. Icebreakers make meetings better by loosening everyone up, helping them to get into meeting mode.

The icebreaker is a recognised way of warming people up. It doesn’t need to follow any set format and can be in the shape of almost any activity or game that will break the ice before the business in hand commences.

Their whole purpose is to get delegates talking, smiling and relaxing. They can be used between employees and client’s alike, helping people to get to know each other far more quickly. As an effective tool in an organiser or trainer’s armoury, icebreakers energise and motivate participants.

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Attendees will be more interested when they are involved mentally and emotionally, and icebreakers will provide this kind of practical learning experience. The type of activities or games should give people the chance to share knowledge and learn from each other.

Interacting, talking, completing tasks, solving problems and participating in other group activities will help people with diverse learning styles to engage with each other through the challenges they’re faced with. This can help to reduce the sense of isolation or anonymity in any venue.

Read on to find out about some of the top icebreakers that can be used within any meeting to reduce awkwardness…

1. The quiz icebreaker

A fun and easy way of helping everyone to get to know each other a little better is through an icebreaker quiz. About a week before the meeting, each team member is sent some questions via email, such as their favourite TV show of all time, or the identity of the person, dead or alive, whom they would most like to go to dinner with.

At the beginning of the meeting, everyone is handed a list of the questions and answers. The fun starts when you have to publicly guess who said what!

2. The “foodie” icebreaker

Food is something we can all share as a common ground, so it’s an excellent way to break the ice. Go round the room and ask everyone what meal they would like to prepare for their colleagues.

Ask them why it’s their special dish, how they learned to make it and what memories it evokes. This will tell everyone a little more about what makes their colleagues tick.

3. The movie icebreaker

At the start of the meeting, split everyone into small groups, preferably not with the people they see every day, and ask them to think of the script to a movie they would like to make. Every team needs to prepare a pitch within 15 minutes.

This is a good icebreaker if you have in-person and virtual attendees, as the people at the meeting can come up with the ideas and the remote delegates can vote on which is the best. The winners might get some small reward for their idea.

4. The speed networking icebreaker

This has the same premise as speed dating, but it’s aimed at breaking the ice, rather than making a date. While remaining socially distanced, make sure everyone is sitting near people they don’t normally work with.

Tell every attendee to look to their right: they must then spend the next five minutes networking with the person sitting there. The goal is to have five conversations in five minutes. Set a timer and when it goes off, everyone must move around and find a new person to talk to.

5. The “pick-a-side” icebreaker

Ask one harmless and fun question that prompts people to pick a side, such as whether they would rather go for a walk or to the cinema; if they prefer pizza or fish and chips; or whether they prefer having too much to do, or not enough to do. The list of possible questions is endless.

The best icebreakers will break up any cliques, encourage people to form random groups and help quieter individuals meet others and get talking in a fun way. They will help people to feel part of a group and more relaxed, with the laughter releasing any tension before the business part of the meeting commences.

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