Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ice Breakers

Most people shiver at the sound of the word “Ice Breaker”. Maybe this is because we all have been to a meeting where an unenthused organizer has forced us to perform an embarrassing task along with a random bunch of strangers. However things don’t have to be this way. Ice breakers by their very nature should be fun activities that get a group of strangers or people who have never worked together before to begin to feel a little more comfortable with each other.

How can we avoid the “cold shoulder” when doing an ice breaker? Well this is all up to the meeting organizer. Anyone can follow the instructions of an ice breaker, but it takes a leader to pull it off successfully. So what’s the trick? ENTHUSIASM If the meeting organizer is not truly excited about the ice breaker (I’m not talking about playing phony here), how do we expect the participants to get excited about it?

So in short, pick an ice breaker that you feel will be fun, and matches the dynamic of the audience. You would definitely want to have a different icebreaker for senior citizen librarians than for the Monty Python Society at the local college. Also keep in mind that ice breakers should be pretty short, under 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the group.

To help you out I’ll list a few ice breaker ideas as well as my opinions on them.

  1. Two Truths and a Lie – The old standby. Everyone writes their name and two truths and one lie about themselves on an index card. The organizer collects the cards and reads them off asking the group to guess which “fact” is the lie. It works for pretty much any group, and because of this, has been done to death. Use it only if you really really want to.
  2. Snowball Fight – A flurry of fun. Break the group into two teams. Each person takes a piece of paper and writes down their favorite music band, movie, book, and etc… on it. Then crumple up the pieces of paper and have an indoor snowball fight!! After a few minutes, everyone picks up a “snowball” uncrumples it and tries to find the owner. This one is a lot of fun, but some people might not appreciate getting whacked in the face with a crumpled up piece of paper.
  3. Birthday Line – More difficult than you think. This one is simple, the group is to form a line in order by birthday… with only one catch… no talking! The Birthday Line ice breaker is fun, especially when you see all the wacky body language people use to try to convey when their birthday is.
  4. The Name Game – “A person’s name, to them, is the sweetest and most important sound in the world.” This works easiest in a circle. Have the first person state his/her name. Then the second person states the first person’s name and then their own, the third states the first’s then the second’s, and then their own, and etc… By the end everyone will pretty much have learned everyone else’s name. This ice breaker is great for new teams, the only thing is that it takes a little bit longer to do.
  5. Story Relay – Yeah so maybe this is a modified drinking game… But that’s why it’s so fun! Bring the team into a circle choose a theme (maybe something relevant to your group/meeting) for your “story”. Then start the story with only one sentence, the next person to the right then continues the story with another sentence. This should continue until the story is finished or the story doesn’t make sense anymore (each person should go at least once). This ice breaker is mainly just for fun. Maybe better for groups that already know each other.

No comments: