Icebreakers aim to establish an agreeable environment for proceedings to happen by helping the participants feel at ease. These methods are more necessary when the people involved don’t know each other well enough to make a good beginning. An ice-breaker will assist the participants with becoming relaxed and set the mood for a discussion to develop. This relaxed state of mind will greatly aid the participants in being more focused and receptive, so they can actively listen to all forms of communication.
Icebreakers are used not only in the beginning but also when the meeting is midway or reaches a difficult situation. The content and timing of using icebreakers for meetings don’t need to be given excessive consideration – as some individuals instinctively understand how to implement an icebreaker. With minimal training, others can easily learn this skill as well.
Providing some time for icebreaker sessions is perfect to make your meeting successful. However, if you choose the wrong activity for this session, you will just ruin the entire meeting before it starts. Keep in mind that not all types of icebreakers are suitable for certain circumstances in your meeting. Therefore, you need to be very careful to choose the right icebreaker. Here are important considerations to take before choosing certain activities for meeting icebreaker sessions.
The first consideration is the size of the group. The number of participants will be very important in determining the best activity for this session. There are several kinds of activities that will work great in meeting with many participants. Surely, you can also find some others that work well for any smaller group of meetings or seminars. You can use games for small groups in a meeting with many participants simply by dividing them into smaller groups.
The second consideration is the purpose of the meeting. You must consider whether you are going to make a kind of brainstorming to develop a new idea or simply discuss the main topic directly. Discussing a new goal, new project, or developing a new idea will need several different types of activity. Besides, you need to consider the mood resulting from the icebreaker to the meeting. If you have misjudged the mood of the meeting, you must immediately switch the activity to the new one.
The third consideration is the purpose of the icebreaker. You must keep in mind that you do not always have to provide a certain time for this session at the beginning of your meeting. Instead, you can simply make it appropriate to the purpose of the session. You can put this session at the beginning of the meeting if the main purpose is to make the attendance introduce themselves to each other. Meanwhile, an icebreaker to refresh and energize meetings and reenergize the mind of the participants to develop new business ideas could be put in the middle of the meeting.
Fourth, prepare everything you need to provide during this session. Explain the rules properly to the participants of the meeting so they know well what they need to do during the game or the activity. You should also prepare the required materials well. You need to prepare pens or flip charts if you choose a written game or activity. However, if you are choosing a verbal icebreaker, you will not need to prepare any supporting materials other than your microphone. Some of the Do’s and Don’ts that can help in the successful use of ice-breakers are:
- The game specified should be appropriate and tailored to the group at hand.
- Make the instructions as simple as possible to understand.
- Watch the participants ensure that they are having fun with the process.
- Irrespective of how much effort you have put into devising a good ice-breaker, it may not work. So, always have a backup plan in place.
- Make sure that you have the right number of people for the game.
- Don’t go for ice-breakers which might make the participants feel uncomfortable, physically or mentally.
- Don’t force anyone to participate.
- Don’t be unorganized. Have all of the material you might need, as any delay can quickly make the atmosphere lose direction and focus.
- Don’t underestimate the time that might be needed for completing this activity.
- Don’t limit the use of ice-breakers to the start of a meeting
Finally, as a rule of thumb – insert Ice-Breakers whenever needed.