Quick Ways to Break the Tension
The major purpose of an icebreaker:
- attain a comfort level for the participants
- determine who is in the room (and why)
- engage the participants in talking so that they are more likely to participate rather than passively watch
- give the meeting leader a chance to size up the dynamics in the attendees
Icebreaker Ideas. Some more frivolous than others:
- What are your expectations of the day?
- If there were one thing that you were to walk away with that would make this time a success, what would it be?
- Find one personal item in your wallet, purse, or briefcase and share it with the group. Whay is it important?
- If you were to be doing something else during this time, what would it be?
- Find 3 people in the room that you do not know. Get up and and go introduce yourself.
- Change seats to sit between 2 people that you know the least about.
- Share a little known fact about yourself with the group.
- Play a quick round of human bingo.
- If you were to be arrested for something, what would it most likely be?
- What was your most embarrassing moment?
- If you were to be a part of a car, what part would it be, and what would be its function?
- Where was your first job and what did you learn? How is it similar to what you do today? (Cannot answer “in no way”)
- What has been the “key to success” of this group? (Works for a group that regularly gets together.)
- Describe this group in one word. Your word must be unique – that is, one that no one else has stated so far. (Works for a group that regularly gets together.)
- If you wanted to ask something of a famous world leader, who and what would it be?
- What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
- Share your greatest asset and how it can be of help today.
- What was your high school mascot? How is it better than others in the room.
- Take 3 items from the middle of the table and build a sculpture that represents what your department does for its customers. (Stock the table with knickknacks or junk from your garage).
- Use a book of trivia to ask questions of each table. Begin a contest where you ask another question at the start of each break. Keep score.
- State three things about yourself. Two of them must be true and one must be fiction. Others ask yes or no questions one at a time to determine the answer.
- Ask participants, on the count of three, to point to the person they would most like to assign as the timekeeper. (or other role or to hear a readout from first)
- Use masking tape to create a long scale of 1-5 on the carpet. At the end of the day, ask partiipants to rate the day. Discuss what would need to happen next time to move them farther along the continuum.
- Ask participants to sit according to their birthday. You can clarify this by including year, or not. Keeping it intentionally vague turns it into a highly interactive icebreaker where they haggle over how to carry out the task.
- Using a roll of toilet paper, ask each participant to “take some toilet paper.” Do not be specific about how much. Once everyone has some, they are to share ONE piece of information about himself/herself for EACH square of tp. (It often plays out that the most audacious people take the most squares, then have to come up with more info to share.)
Depending on the orientation of the room, icebreakers can be started at a small group level, then shared with the big group. Small groups can vote on the “best at the table” and read out on the the winner, or share all input at the large group level. Time is usually the determining factor.
Team training icebreakers or training ideas are more elaborate. Get some free team development ideas.