Ice Breakers

What are Ice Breakers

Ice breakers are an effective way to help people get to know each other at a corporate event, at school or on training or when making new friends at school. For companies, icebreakers are a great way to build buy-in (link to definition - how can I make words pop up) for your project, event or training.

Importance of Ice Breakers at Work

Whenever people are brought together in groups with people they do not know, there is tension. People start asking questions such as Why am I here? Why are they here? What is the point of training? How can this project succeed? Who are these people?

The most successful projects involve people that get along well together and have fun working together. So how do we create this atmosphere on a new project team or in a new class? Ice breakers are very effective at building strong teams that work well together while having fun. When problems arise on the project, everyone comes together to solve the issue. It is for this reason why so many companies use ice breakers.

However, ice breakers only work if the person performing the ice breaker is sincere, approachable and capable of engaging in small talk. If the person leading the ice breaker is not sincere and able to make the ice breaker sincere, the audience sees it as a stunt. A bad icebreaker session is at best, a waste of time, or worse, an embarrassment for everyone involved.

The secret of a successful icebreaking session is to keep it simple. Design the session with specific objectives in mind and make sure the session is appropriate and comfortable for everyone involved. And, be relaxed and at ease.

IceBreakers at School

Students are very social and engage in small talk much easier than people in the work force. There are many events and students see each other in the same classes. However, projects often bring students together that have had no prior interactions with each other. Ice Breakers will help these students get along well together and get up getting a better grade.

IceBreakers

Try the following Ice Breakers. Some ice breakers are designed for students while others for work. Feel free to change the ice breaker to suit your environment.

Introductory IceBreakers

Introductory icebreakers are used to introduce participants to each other and to facilitate conversation amongst the participants.

Ask participants to share their name, department or role in the organization, length of service and one little known fact about themselves. For students, ask students to share their home town, their major, why they choose this college and what they want to do when they graduate.

Result: participants are no longer strangers and barriers to conversation have been broken down. The path has been laid for future cooperation.

True or False

Ask your participants to introduce themselves and make three or four statements about themselves, one of which is false. Now get the rest of the group to vote on which fact is false.

Results: participants are no longer strangers and barriers to conversation have been broken down. As well as getting to know each other as individuals, participants have already started interaction within the group.

Interviews

Ask participants to get into groups of two. Each participant takes turns interviewing the other participant. At the end of 10 minutes, each person introduces their interviewee to the rest of the group telling them what they have learned. Questions should not be too personal but may include place of birth, hobbies, dream job, favorite past times, etc..

Problem Solvers

Ask participants to work in small groups. Create a simple problem scenario for them to work on in a short time. Once the group has analyzed the problem and prepared their feedback, ask each group in turn to present their analysis and solutions to the wider group.

Two Truths and a Lie

Ask all players to arrange themselves in a circle. Instruct each player to think of three statements about themselves. Two must be true statements, and one must be false. For each person, he or she shares the three statements (in any order) to the group. The goal of the icebreaker game is to determine which statement is false. The group votes on which one they feel is a lie, and at the end of each round, the person reveals which one was the lie. Instructions for Good Icebreaker questions.

In terms of facilitation, a great way to help people get to know each other is to ask them fun questions that allow them to express their personality or interesting things about them. Here is a list of fun, useful icebreaker questions to help break the ice:
If you were a comic strip character, who would you be and why?
What thought or message would you want to put in a fortune cookie?
If you had to give up a favorite food, which would be the most difficult to give up?
What is one food you'd never want to taste again?
If you won a lottery ticket and had a million dollars, what would you do with it?
You've been given access to a time machine. Where and when would you travel to?
If you could be any superhero and have super powers, which one would you like to have and why?
Mount Rushmore honors four U.S. presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. If yuo could add any person to Mount Rushmore, who would you add and why?
What award would you love to win and for what achievement? If you could transport yourself anywhere instantly, where would you go and why?
In your opinion, which animal is the best (or most beautiful) and why?
What is one item that you really should throw away, but probably never will?
Growing up, what were your favorite toys to play with as a child?

Lost on a Deserted Island

The situation is dire following a shipwreck, everyone has been stranded on a deserted island! Each person is allowed to bring one object to the island.

The first part of this icebreaker is simple: each person is asked to describe what object they would bring and why. This need not be realistic; if someone loves music, he or she might choose to bring a guitar, or an animal lover might choose to bring a dog, a food lover might choose to bring sirloin steaks, and so on. Encourage people to be creative.

After everyone has introduced their object and why they have chosen that object, the team building portion follows. Divide into smaller groups and ask everyone to work together to improve their chances of survival by combining the various objects that they introduced. If necessary, you can add more objects, but be sure to use all the objects that everyone mentioned. If you wish, you can reward the most creative group with a prize.

Lost on a Deserted Island is an approachable way to get people to open up and share a little bit about themselves and what they enjoy or value.