Starting a meeting or dealing with the after-lunch session involving a group of people often requires that you use some sort of ice breaking exercise or activity to help participants get to know each other better, have some fun and in many cases move around the room a bit. Most facilitators have their own set of ice breaking activities and exercises in their mind in case they need it. If you are new at it, you may need some inspiration though.
Ice Breaker Questions resource link
This list of Ice Breaker Questions can be used to help you. You can do this in a few ways:
- Use it to start the meeting and incorporate the introductions and capture expectations at the same time. Ask each participant to share his/her name, location, role, expectations for the session/day and then answer one of the questions on the list. (There is a reason to ask them to share their answer to one of the questions AFTER they stated their expectations – so you have time to write down their expectations on a flip-chart before the next participant starts sharing)
- Use it at the start of the meeting. Ask participants to get up and introduce themselves to others sharing their answer to the question and asking the other person to share their answer. Let them mingle in this way for about 5 to 10 minutes (depending on the size of your group). Ask them to return to their seats and ask a volunteer (or a few) to share the most surprising response they heard.
- If the group is small (12 people or less). Ask each person to provide an answer to the question on a post-in note. Collect all of them. Read out the answer and have participants try to guess who responded in this way. (Rules for this exercise includes that the writer of the answer cannot participate in guessing who wrote it).
- If you have more time, you can do this: ask each participant to guess what others would answer to a question, and put it on a post-it note. [You can assign who should guess which other participant’s responses to ensure everyone in the room will be covered. I would not have anyone guess more than 3 responses or it will take a really long time to complete the activity.] Once everyone has guessed and wrote down their guesses, they start finding one of the people that they were assigned to guess a response for and discuss their guess with the other person. What did they guess and why? The other person shares his/her real answer to the question. Then they split and find the next person that they have guessed an answer for. Sometimes some waiting may be involved if none of the people are available for a discussion around the guessed response. When everyone has completed the conversations you can debrief the group with questions like: How often were you right in what you guessed the other person would say? Did you learn anything surprising from those you talked to ? (aspects of his/her personality that you had no idea about?) How accurate do you think guessing is when it comes to how other people think?
Ice breakers can be really effective in breaking down barriers to making contact with people you have never met before at a meeting or training event. Yes, extroverts mostly don’t have any difficulties approaching and talking to strangers, but introverts often do. These kinds of exercises help everyone to get to know each other without feeling too inhibited during the initial contact moments.