Business meetings today are a big and indispensable part of modern business. And – you’d probably agree – they’re not always enjoyable. Especially when people don’t know each other much or at all.
It is precisely this parameter that can be responsible for an unproductive meeting, poor business results, lack of mutual understanding, or uneasy and tense mood. The so-called “icebreaker” is actually an activity, a game or an event that is used to warm up the mood
and help open up communication between participants in meetings, team building events, and different types of training. In short, icebreaker games are recommended for any type of gathering that requires the participants to relax and interact with each other. The right
selection of icebreakers results in every member of the team or group feeling like the people
present have known each other for years.
Different types of icebreaker games
Depending on the occasion and purpose, there are several types of icebreaker games that can be used at business meetings. The first type is the one that serves as pure fun – the fun icebreaker. If the participants – in this case the employees – already know each other, laughter and conversations that result from an icebreaker will help to warm up the mood in the group. If the people are strangers to each other, the game breaks the ice and everyone has a chance to find out and learn about their new colleagues and team members. Here are some question examples:
• If you could change your name, what new one would you choose and why?
• What slogan best describes your life?
• If tomorrow you had the opportunity to wake up like an animal, what animal would that be and why?
• If you could be of a certain age forever, what age would it be?
Examples may seem trivial, but if you think about them, no matter how long the employees have known each other, they most likely don’t know every little thing about each other. And if they think they do know each other, we recommend the Guessing game. This type of icebreaker doesn’t require a lot – just pens and paper. Everyone writes down something
about himself/herself that h e/she believes none of the others know. For example: “I’m afraid of dogs”, “I do not eat lemons” or “I want to visit Madagascar.” Then all the messages are collected, mixed, randomly picked out, and read aloud. While the messages are being read, the employees guess who wrote what. Trust us, it’s really fun!
The next type of icebreakers is the one that is actually the introduction to team building. More precisely, this type of game requires the group to identify and/or specify things and/or qualities in common with the rest of the group. It’s like sort of a “pre-team building.” Put people in groups of four to five randomly. Tell each group that their first task is to write something they all have in common, but it can’t be anything to do with work. And of course, be prepared for answers like “We all have socks/hands/feet/t-shirts.” 🙂 . When they
answer this question, next they should do is name ten qualities they share with the people sitting at the table.
Then, tell each group that they need to choose one person who will take notes and read them after completing the task. Find a volunteer who will do it first, and then everyone else should follow. Reading lists like this is always an excellent source of fun, laughter, and discussion. People like to look for qualities they have in common with others in their own and other groups. They compare their list with others, which leads to a more free and open communication and sharing principles.
Groups do not need more than 10 – 15 minutes for the entire process (depending on the
number of groups), so the game doesn’t take much time, and the result is more than satisfactory – relaxed and smiling employees ready for their next tasks.
The benefits of icebreaker games:
– You will quickly get the employees’ attention
– Barriers between the participants will gradually dissolve
– People will get to know each other very quickly
– Help generate new ideas
– Communication becomes more relaxed
– The coworkers slowly start interacting with each other at a more intimate level
Another icebreaker that is very useful is the one whose purpose is an activity based on the purpose of the meeting itself. For example, it is often used as a questioning approach for business events and activities – through some form of brainstorming. Teams can meet to discuss and analyze meetings or for team building events that are organized every year. By thinking and talking about things that have been successfully accomplished – as well as those that have not given the best results – each team member gives his/her opinion about these things, and this discussion functions as an icebreaker. There are many more types of these games, but they are all really a combination of these three types.
How to get a successful icebreaker game?
You will surely find a number of game examples. But, as we said at the beginning, it is crucial to choose the right one, one that is appropriate for the particular occasion, in order to get results. In line with this, here’s some general advices about what should and should not be done when starting this activity:
• Give the participants enough time
• Play so as to create a relaxed mood
• The games should be simple and short, as should instructions be
• Be prepared to improvise in case it becomes necessary
• Play if the participants come from different areas/departments of companies
• Do not suggest games you know that will make someone uncomfortable
• Do not force people to participate
What icebreaker games did you take part in?