How to Use Icebreakers Most Effectively


Icebreakers, when used properly, can be a very impactful way to start team building activities and lead into a successful event. They can get people engaged so that they relax can contribute effectively.


If they are not used correctly, however, they could waste everyone’s time and setup the event to be unsuccessful. Here are some key tips to maximize the effectiveness of your icebreakers.


Know When to Use Them


Icebreakers are used when you need to break the ice. They should be used at the beginning of events where the participants don’t normally work together, don’t know each other, or are coming together to work out problems. Facilitators use them to get to know the participants better. Finally, if they are coming from different backgrounds, using these techniques can bring them together toward one common goal.


What’s the “Ice?”


A large aspect to effectively use icebreakers is to know what ice you are breaking. It could just be that the participants don’t know each other or they work at different levels of the company and need to get to a common level. The individuals could come from different backgrounds and cultures and need to get past initial impressions. in this case, try to pick an activity that focuses on similarities so that the participants can find a common ground and increase their communication with each other.


Find Your Objectives


Once you have established your “ice,” the next step is to decide your objectives. For example, if the participants are meeting about a work problem, an objective could be to create an open, productive environment where anyone can participate regardless of their level or position. After this, ask yourself some questions like “How can I create an open environment?”  “How can I create a common sense of purpose?” And finally, “Will this icebreaker fulfill these objectives?”


Pick the Icebreaker


Now it’s time to pick your icebreaker. Make sure that whatever you choose is worthwhile. If people feel like they are wasting their time they will become passive towards the rest of the event. The objectives should be clear and the activity should be fun. Also be sure that it isn’t a competition because if anyone feels like a loser they will become uncomfortable.


Ice Breaker Categories


There are three main icebreaker categories to choose from: introductory, team building, and topic exploration.


Introductory activities should be used when the participants don’t know each other and you want to facilitate conversation amongst them. An activity could be as simple as sharing a little known fact or telling two truths and a lie and people guess what the lie is. These activities humanize the group and place everyone on the same level.


Team building activities bring together individuals who are in the early stages of team building. An example of this could be everyone standing in a circle and tossing a ball of yarn to everyone in the group. They would say their role in the company and how they relate to the person that just tossed them the ball. At the end, you, as the facilitator, would tug on the yarn to show that they are all holding onto it and are connected on one team. Another activity could be each participant saying their hopes fears for their work ahead of them, showing that they all have similar goals and hesitations towards the upcoming event.


Finally, topic exploration icebreakers can address the event coming up or change pace and re-energize everyone. One activity is called burning questions where each participant asks a question that they hope to address during the upcoming event. Another activity could be brainstorming. If everyone is getting bogged down by details, brainstorming is a great way to think creatively and boost everyone’s energy.


No matter what activity you choose, be sure that it is at the right time, breaks the ice, and fulfills your objectives. This will lead you into a great team building event!


Fun Team Building Has the Perfect Icebreakers for Your Group!


Fun Team Building with Larry Lipman knows exactly what icebreakers to use for each situation and can maximize your group’s potential. Give Larry a call today at 770-333-3303 to see what he can do for you!

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