An icebreaker is a facilitation exercise intended to help members of a group begin the process of forming themselves into a team. Icebreakers are commonly presented as a game to “warm-up” the group by helping the members to get to know each other. They often focus on sharing personal information such as names, hobbies, etc.
When you attend business meetings with people you are not familiar with, a certain level of tension can inhibit the progress of the meeting. Good meeting administrators break that tension with icebreakers. An icebreaker is a chance to introduce yourself to the group in a creative and interesting way. A good icebreaker can make your meeting more productive from the very beginning.
The following are icebreaker activities intended for groups of complete strangers:
- “Taking turns”: The simplest icebreaker of all is to have everyone take a turn introducing themselves. They can state their name, where they’re from, or some other interesting or relevant fact. To spice it up, ask them to talk about something entertaining, such as their most embarrassing experience in the workplace.
“Name Game”: As the title implies, this game is intended to help participants learn each others’ names. Arrange everyone in a circle. Then start by asking one person to state his or her first name. The next person must state the previous person’s name and then state his or her own. Going around the circle, each subsequent person must remember and state the names of everyone who went before. It gets more difficult as the game continues. To make it easier and more revealing, vary it by having each person attach a personal attribute to their name that starts with the same letter as their name. For instance, the names could be “Mischievous Mike” “Savvy Sarah” or “Jovial John.”
- “Interviews”: Like “taking turns,” this icebreaker is fairly simple and standard. Participants partner up with one other person and interview each other. To facilitate the interview, the leader offers suggestions on what questions to ask, such as “where are you from?” or “what was your favorite subject in school?” Afterward, each participant introduces his or her partner to the group, mentioning something interesting he or she learned during the interview.
- “Birthright”: Separate the participants into four groups: youngest, middle, oldest, and only children. After they have gathered, have each group write down some of the disadvantages and advantages of their particular birth order to share with the group [source: West]. For instance, the oldest children might say “I always got stuck with babysitting my little siblings,” but that, “I was the first to get my own car.” This exercise offers strangers a chance to quickly connect over shared experiences.
Balance Careers has a list of the top ten ice breakers for business. The event manager website has a list of sixty-two ice breakers for a more engaged event. Alternatively, you can contact me for more information