I was talking with a colleague recently who shared with me how much she hates icebreakers. Confession time: If I’m being honest, I hate being a training participant and having to engage in icebreaking activities, too.
So how do we take the sting out of icebreaking activities for our participants? My guiding principle is pretty simple on this point: Continue reading
Earlier this week, as I was traveling to the east coast, I was texting back and forth with my wife about icebreaking activities. She had to do an icebreaker for a meeting and it needed to be connected to the content on which she would later present (yes, our text exchanges are extremely romantic!!). Continue reading
I’m often asked to help with icebreaker ideas, especially sales training icebreakers.
My wife introduced me to this one several years ago when we both worked at a youth center. It’s a fun icebreaker for any audience, but it brings additional meaning and opportunities for debriefing when used as a sales training icebreaker. Continue reading
Effective working groups thrive on healthy team dynamics.
There is always a need within organizations for team dynamics activities. Over the past month or so I’ve opened several different multi-day workgroup sessions with a team dynamics activity that has gone over quite well with audiences that have ranged from executive teams to frontline staff.
How to do Puzzle Me This: A Team Dynamics Activity
Following are the guidelines for a team dynamics activity. It includes teamwork, puzzles, lockboxes and the need to listen to instructions. Continue reading
About a year ago, I was preparing a workshop when my co-facilitator suggested that we add a question into the opening icebreaker activity.
The question seemed a little too touchy-feely for me, but he was persistent, so we left the question in. I wasn’t expecting very high quality responses, and I was surprised when people actually gave sincere answers to the question.
It worked so well that I have since incorporated it into the opening of many of my training sessions and strategic planning workshops.
The question is: Continue reading
Change efforts can be difficult. Sometimes you have people who are true believers in the change from the start. Sometimes you have people who will never believe in the change. Often you have people who say they believe in the change, but in their minds and hearts they are thinking “this can’t be done.”
People don’t always appreciate how their (dis)belief in change can impact the effort. In order to illustrate the mindboggling power of the words “yes” and “no”, the CEO of my organization used an activity to wrap up a two-day meeting revolving around important changes that needed to be made. I’ve done my best to re-create that activity in the following 3-minute video: Continue reading
The phrase “Let’s get started with an icebreaker” will inevitably be followed by groans and mumbles or shouts of “I hate icebreakers!” from your participants. Yet, breaking the ice at the beginning of a workshop or presentation is an essential ingredient to building rapport between audience members and establishing a relationship between the audience and you.
Choose an Icebreaker Related to Your Content
The first step is choosing an activity that is related somehow to your content and sets an appropriate tone for the remainder of your time with your audience. Here is a list of sixteen icebreaking activities that you may keep you from screaming ‘I hate icebreakers!‘
Five Questions About Your Icebreaker
Once you think you have an icebreaker that’s going to work for you, here is a list of five questions you’ll want to ask before you finalize your choice of an icebreaker.
I Hate Icebreakers Bracket Challenge
In the spirit of the Sweet 16 stage of the NCAA basketball tournament, I’ve concocted a little game – a bracket challenge – if you’d like some help narrowing your selection of icebreaking activity.You can fill out the I Hate Icebreakers Bracket here. If you do decide to take me up on this bracket challenge, I’d love to hear which ice-breaking activity would be your champion. Drop a line in the comment section.
Do you hate icebreakers? Do you have a preferred ice-breaking activity that didn’t make it to my Sweet Sixteen list? Let’s hear about it in the comment section below.
An effective icebreaker accomplishes three things:
- Attendees are introduced to one another
- The energy in the room picks up
- Attendees begin to think about the session’s topic (preferably in a fun, light-hearted way)
A quick game of “Would you rather…” can help break the ice at your next meeting or presentation by challenging participants to think about a pair of seemingly absurd choices, and then justify why they chose a particular option. It can shed some light on the mindset of each participant and can lead to a lot of laughter in the process.
Plus, who doesn’t like to have the sweet sound of laughter coming from their meeting room?
Previously I shared ten potential “Would you rather…” icebreaker questions. Here are six more:
Would you rather…
- …be scheduled to deliver a 90 minute presentation at 1:00pm (immediately after lunch) OR at 5:30pm (when everyone wants to go home)?
- …be able to shoot actual lasers out of your laser pointer OR have to dodge actual bullets every time a bullet point appears on a PowerPoint slide?
- …have a face that is a functioning clock OR have hair made entirely out of neon pink post-it notes?
- …be chased around the room by a giant, radioactive LCD projector as you try to set up for your presentation OR actually be married to Mr. Sketch?
- …only be able to respond to people and situations with the first thought that pops into your head OR only be able to speak in the form of a question during your presentation?
- …realize (much too late) that your suitcase was switched with Lady Gaga’s and all you have to wear for your keynote speech is a suit made out of raw meat OR wake up to discover the only way you can get from point A to point B is by moonwalking?
Do you have additional “Would you rather…?” type icebreaker questions? Let’s see ‘em in the comments section.
Can you apply games played with your family in the classroom?
The Would You Rather Icebreaker didn’t come from a book of training activities. In long car rides, my family has discovered that playing a game called “Would you rather…?” is a fun way to pass the time. Sometimes, a game played in the car with your family can be used in the training room. Thus, the Would You Rather Icebreaker!
In “Would you rather…?” you’re given a choice between two options. For example: would you rather have four eyes or four ears? It’s not both/and. You can’t say “neither.” You must choose one, and then explain why you chose it.
This game makes a fun icebreaker/energizing activity in the training room.
10 Would You Rather Icebreaker Questions
Next time you’re looking to get some conversation going in your training room, try one of these would your rather icebreaker questions:
- Would you rather reach into your training supplies to find that all of your markers are dry OR reach into your briefcase and find that you forgot to bring you handouts?
- Would you rather lose your voice on the morning of your presentation OR walk into the presentation room and be informed that the projector bulb blew and it cannot be replaced?
- Would you rather present in a room where the temperature is stuck at 85 degrees OR 58 degrees?
- Would you rather show up to a ballroom (or large meeting room) to find that only 3 really enthusiastic people decided to come to your training session OR show up to the meeting room to find wall-to-wall attendees who refuse to say a word during your presentation?
- Would you rather get the hiccups in the middle of the most important presentation of your career OR pass gas (loudly) at the beginning of every staff meeting you attend?
- Would you rather give the same presentation to a different audience twice a day for the next month OR give a different presentation to the same audience every day for the next year?
- Would you rather use jazz hands throughout the entirety of your next presentation OR deliver your next presentation using dirty limericks?
- Would you rather co-facilitate with the Janice character from Friends OR give constructive criticism to Tony Soprano on how to be more inclusive in his decision-making processes?
- Would you rather kick off your next presentation after getting the worst haircut of your life OR spill coffee all over your shirt 2 minutes before your presentation is set to begin?
- Would you rather speak like Donald Duck OR giggle uncontrollably every time you say the word “but”?
What is your Would You Rather Icebreaker Question?
Do you have a great Would you Rather Icebreaker question that would make for a fun icebreaker/energizer? Have you ever used the Would you Rather Icebreaker? How did it go?
Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway used six words to pen his shortest work of fiction: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Whether true or not (Snopes.com can neither confirm nor deny this is a true story), trainers and presenters have been inspired by this anecdote to break the ice by challenging attendees to write a 6-word memoir.
How a 6-Word Memoir Works
It works quite well. About a year and a half ago, I watched as the CEO of my organization opened a 2-day meeting of about 60 surgeons, medical professionals, and administrators from across the United States, India, Nepal, and Ethiopia with this very activity. Attendees wrote their 6-word memoirs on a flip chart, posted them around the meeting room and referred back to them throughout the 2-day meeting.
(If you’re interested, this is the 6-word memoir that I penned: “Love is cookie dough ice cream.”)
A Modern Take On A Classic Icebreaker
The 6-word memoir works as an icebreaker because it’s quick, it forces participants to be succinct as they introduce themselves, yet you can learn so much about someone in just six words.
For those that want a fresh spin on an icebreaker that’s quick and forces participants to be succinct yet can say a lot about a person, you can look to Twitter for inspiration. Challenge learners to share their life story in 140 characters (or 280 if you are feeling super modern) or less. One note about this challenge: you can make this task a little easier on your participants if you give them a worksheet with 140 boxes so that they don’t spend valuable session time trying to count each letter (and space).
Have you used the 6-word memoir icebreaker? How did it go? Have another activity that you find works extremely well to break the ice with a variety of audiences? Please do share in the comment section below!