7 ice breaker ideas to jazz up your meeting
The idiom “ice breaker” originates from the nineteenth century’s ice rifting ships, designed to help sailing in the arctic regions. The vessels broke large ice floes apart into smaller pieces, so that the ship could pass through. Likewise, meeting ice breakers as we know today are witty exercises incorporated into a team activity, supposed to crack social discomfort or timidity, and open ways for relaxed collaboration.
A fun ice breaker game is a fast and easy way to enliven your meeting, yet we all know that “it should have been an email” feeling. As time is everyone’s valuable asset, long, unproductive gatherings with a stuffed agenda are duly frowned upon. To maintain the meeting’s relevance, it is important to define its purpose clearly, and if you opt for bonding activities - select them with care.
Instead of adding an extra step on the agenda, combine ice breakers with the traditional meeting parts: participant introduction, method presentation, or feedback session. Ice breaker games do not always have to be played in the beginning, it can also take the edge off a complicated discussion in the middle of the meeting, or work as a perfect closure. Keep in mind that the games should be simple, inclusive (consider varying physical capabilities and personality types), and time-friendly. Make sure that the meeting is a safe zone, where bad ideas do not exist.
For more inspiration, we handpicked our favourite meeting ice breakers. They are flexible, fast to plan, and can be used both in conference rooms and remotely. All of them require only a pinch of creativity, and do not involve close personal contact with people or unfamiliar surfaces - perfect for bonding even in the times of social distancing.
Agree (to) disagree
Prepare a few statements or assumptions relevant to the topic of the meeting. If you are planning to discuss the role of an employee council, it could be “must organize internal events” or “should get involved in conflict resolution”, etc. Then, ask participants to vote if they agree or disagree. It is a great exercise to initiate broader discussions and get a quick overview of everyone’s standpoints.
All you have to do is prepare a short survey on a desired topic using any poll making tool allowing QR code generation. It can be a trivia, funny questions, or even the agree (to) disagree exercise. Share the QR code with attendees for an interactive survey experience and a chance to observe its results real-time.
18 and under
As simple as that: ask each person to share an accomplishment they achieved before they turned 18. Works great for the first meeting of your new hires!
Suggest attendees introduce themselves to each other with a twist: by spelling their name backwards. Challenge them to use backward names as nicknames throughout the meeting.
Brisk the morning coffee meeting by offering a sneak peek to your surroundings (in a video call) or belongings (in a conference room), and encourage others to do the same. Show each other your working desks, plants, pets, keychains, notebooks, and share short stories about them, if willing.
Kick off the brainstorming session with a thought experiment. Pick a hypothesis, theory, or principle and invite meeting attendees to think through its consequences. Some of the most famous and stimulating thought experiments are Achilles and the tortoise, The impossible barber, or Mary’s room.
Spend a few zen moments together, especially after a tense discussion. Turn off bright lights, put on chill music, or ask everyone to find a calm area at home if you are hosting a remote meeting. Let everyone close their eyes, stay in a present moment, and leave their stress and worries behind.
Well prepared and thoughtfully moderated, ice breakers are a powerful addition to any meeting or social gathering. It encourages connection, interaction, and creates a comfortable environment for exchanging ideas.