The Art of Icebreakers

19 April 2016 / by Ashley Freeman

Personally, the idea of participating in an icebreaker at times makes me shudder.

The notion of getting to know one’s neighbour by patting them on the back and giving them a high-five can at times feel a little contrived to say the least. But no matter how badly thought out or unoriginal it may be, an icebreaker always seems to be a better alternative to launching straight into 90 mins of back-to-back presentations.

If done right, icebreakers can be a highly effective way to start a meeting and help:

  1. Get people into the spirit / ’break the ice’

  2. Get people thinking about the content of the event

  3. Get minds thinking creatively

  4. Energise, involve and refresh your audience

  5. Inject FUN!

At the start of a recent meeting, we used a deck of about 25 cards that each represented a magnified perspective of part of a bigger picture. As a group we had to describe the detail of our card, decide where it fit in the ‘image timeline’, and then put all the cards face down in one consecutive line. The objective was that as you turn each card over in succession, the perspective should zoom out.

It’s a great exercise for helping with communication, understanding different perspectives and taking a broader view; which was relevant to us since we were working on company strategy.

We took the idea from here. Try it out and let us know how you get on:

However, if it’s just good old fashioned fun you’re after, here are 3 favourites that you might want to try:

The Spaghetti & Marshmallow Tower Challenge

Table teams of x4 are challenged to build the tallest tower using only dry spaghetti and marshmallows, within a 10 minute timeframe.

Know your Colleagues

Questions are asked of people on the pre-event questionnaires; such as which football team do you support, or how tall are you. Answers are calculated and then the whole audience is asked to guess the accumulated answers. e.g. Stand up if you think more than 100 people in this room are over 6’.

The Human Knot

Stand in a circle with a group of 8 people. Everyone puts both hands in the middle.

Use your right hand to grab the right hand of a person directly across from you.  Use your left hand to grab the left hand of a person across from you. Now, untangle, as a group, back into one open circle, without letting go of hands or dislocating any joints!

So don’t let your next event get off to a chilly start! Avoid a frosty reception and try a business content, relevant and fun icebreaker that thaws out the mind and invigorates your audience.

If you’re interesting in more ideas like these feel free to break the ice by giving us a shout!