August 23, 2019
11 Best Icebreakers for Meetings & Training Seminars
Icebreakers were initially part of the dating game. It made sense; two people meeting for the first time and the whole situation rife with nervousness. However, the term “icebreaker” became so popular at one point that it eventually transitioned into the professional world.
Today, we see different companies looking to learn different icebreakers for meetings & training seminars. Icebreaker techniques are popular for a variety of reasons. My personal favorite is that they loosen up the atmosphere to a degree where everyone feels comfortable. Secondly, icebreakers for meetings are also effective because they hone interpersonal and communication skills.
The Concept of Icebreakers for Meetings & Training Seminars in an Organization:
Many organizations work on their employees’ communication skills by scheduling training sessions on the subject of icebreakers for meetings. These companies do so because they are relying on their employees to segue their conversations into a winning argument. Other reasons are sales and productivity-related.
The point is that these activities have now become the norm. If you are part of such company or let’s say an Agile work environment, then you are already aware of how icebreaker activities go. If you haven’t been familiar with these activities, other than knowing their meaning, then this article will help you to great lengths.
A typical icebreaker training session in a company can span over different activities. Each section focuses on a specific skill. For instance, if the trainer is looking to polish a group’s communication skills, he or she might suggest ‘One Word Icebreakers’ activity. This could also lead to a Q n’ A session where the trainer asks something and the respondent has to answer immediately in one word only.
They can ask, “How do you feel when you are in a room full of strangers during a seminar?” Since the answer is based on one word only, it helps to pinpoint the focus area that needs work. Many employees use the word “nervous.” Nervousness hails from stage fear and public speaking anxiety. They are temporary issues and can be fixed with the help of different tactics. Also, practice will make you perfect in the long run.
Since I am an Agile project manager, I have been part of different companies where icebreakers for meetings & training seminars were held. Some of them were good; others could have gone better. I decided to do a write up on the subject matter by highlighting my favorite icebreakers for meetings & training seminars throughout the past few years.
I hope you will benefit from them in one way or another.
1. The One Word Activity:
The one-word icebreaker activity is very common. Since I already mentioned it earlier in this write-up, the idea is to encourage others to answer a question in one word only. Well, they could use two words but that should be the extent of it.
No matter how popular a one-word icebreaker is, there are some grey areas that you need to stay away from. Do not ask opinionated questions or personal questions. Since it is hard for respondents to answer using one word, the situation can get awkward in no time. For example, do not ask “How do you feel when Mr. X walks into the room.” The questions should be open-ended enough to lead to intuitive answers which everyone can build upon.
Divide participants into different groups. Tell them that they need to answer a series of questions in one word – something that would be the best description etc. These types of icebreakers spark healthy conversations and lead to different modes of interaction.
2. Finding Common Grounds
These icebreakers for meetings & training seminars is another personal favorite of mine. This activity is pretty much similar to the aforementioned activity, but the difference is the actual sequence of events. You start by dividing your organization’s team members into different groups.
Each group gets 10 – 15 minutes where they chit chat with one another and come up with a list of ten words that describes the group’s team members. After the session, one person responsible for representing his group gets up and reads out those words. The idea of the ‘finding common grounds’ icebreaker is to harness a frank culture where everyone gets to laugh and learn about other people in the company.
Often, there is a Silo mentality in offices where apart from traditional ‘Hellos’ and ‘Hi’s’ people don’t talk much. As a result, there is a communication gap which widens over time. This icebreaker is exactly meant to nip such issues in the bud.
Overall, it is a fun way of getting to know your fellow employees, what their interests are and vice versa. Do it, and you will probably learn a few things about certain people in the company who seemed “too smug” to begin with. Share the results to see which group did better and why.
4. Low-Stress Icebreakers:
Low-stress icebreakers are part of stress-relieving rituals. Usually, companies warm up their teams with a dose of laughter and fun. Just like the aforementioned activities, low-stress icebreakers are where the organization is divided into different groups.
Each group constitutes a mix of senior and junior members. This is done deliberately because due to the hierarchical structure of any company, junior employees feel hesitant around seniors. Each group shares their favorite activities, such as; vacations, pets, casual outdoor ventures, and stories.
This helps everyone to share their side of personal lives. It is the stuff that makes us human after all. Such icebreakers are not very common. But wherever they are exhibited, organizations flourish by tenfold.
5. Meet and Greet Icebreakers:
Meetings are one of the most looked forward to and a dreaded component of any organization. Especially when there is a hint of foreign delegates and stakeholders joining in, the atmosphere is usually rife with tension.
There are numerous techniques that help ease up such an atmosphere before any meeting. The best strategy is to go through different icebreakers for meetings ahead of any scheduled event. As a result, team members will have already practiced and they will feel comfortable with any number of meetings.
Meet and greet icebreakers focus on a team-building experience. What’s more important is that if the meetings are sales-oriented, the team members are trained to focus on building a relationship with the client. If you have ever seen ‘The Office’ season, you know that Michael spends a long time getting to know his clients.
In one of the episodes, he went out with Jan to meet a stakeholder at a restaurant. While Mike was chitchatting up this guy, they talked about favorite food, hobbies, and many other things. As a result, the client felt comfortable dealing with ‘Dunder Mifflin’. Jan didn’t seem so impressed in the beginning, but she eventually knew what Mike was up to. It was a win-win situation for both parties.
This is what meet and greet icebreakers are meant for.
6. Lunch Based Icebreakers:
There are a couple of icebreakers for meetings and training seminars where participants are taught about opening up over a lunch based meeting. Let’s get it straight, you break bread with someone; no matter what their caste or background is, you are automatically building a relationship with them.
You can share a meal with your stakeholders. Before scheduling a meeting, sneak in the possibility of having lunch. Ask them what their favorite food is, and get started from there. Your team members and stakeholders will open up on their own. Lunch meetings and icebreakers are like a miracle. They don’t require a lot of preparation. As soon as people start eating, they end up talking to one another.
Food brings in a lot of possibilities of making new connections, getting to know other people from other departments and companies – so on and so forth. You can also plan potluck lunches, Thanksgiving Luncheons and such other stuff for special upcoming occasions. Even if these type of icebreakers are not meant to be followed as training material, they offer everyone an opportunity to open up.
Also, for employers, it is an opportunity for gaining recognition. A few days ago, I was on a Conan O’ Brien marathon and I found out that they have a very dynamic organization culture. TBC is sent food as a token of appreciation from fans and partners all over. Conan’s workers gather over lunches; they break bread and bond with one another over an informal setup.
7. Introduction interviews
Basically, this activity is a simple way for participants in the team or a seminar to get to know their neighbors. The way it works is that the participants are put in pairs so they can interview each other. This takes the edge off and the rules of the awkward obligatory introduction round can be altered.
The duration of this activity depends on the host or the person conducting the meeting or the conference. Usually, the duration of this activity is five minutes. Because that’s enough time to get to know about “just on the top of their head” introduction, passions or professional experience.
When the duration is complete, conduct the introduction round but this time the people sitting next to each other will introduce their neighbor and not themselves. The introductions will sound something like this:
This is Josh; he is an excellent Coder. He created his first program at the age of 7. He is now working as a Team lead for our company’s new AI project. He also loves swimming.
This is an excellent technique because it definitely takes the edge off and makes the introductions a lot less stiff while helping the people connect easily.
8. Prepare the Questions
Q&A sessions are occasionally a drag. There are no new or interesting questions and the team just drones on and on about the same stuff. This routine can be changed.
Preparing the Questions for the A&A sessions acts as a double win because it will get all of the participants talking while fueling up your Q&A.
It’s a simple yet effective icebreaker. The way it works is that the band leader will divide the room into small parts of twos or threes depending on the size of the population in the room and have them come up with interesting questions. When the activity is completed then the person conducting the whole shebang will instruct the members to collectively decide the best questions in the queue.
The next step is asking the participants to submit their winning questions and when that’s done, they will be the ones to review the questions and upvote the ones that they find the most interesting.
The speakers or the honored panelists will then answer all of the questions with the highest support from the audience because the questions came from them and not some predefined agenda set by the company.
9. Find the Person
This technique is more targeted towards seminars where there are a lot of people. Find the Person is an amazing technique/game that will help the bandleader to endorse networking at the event.
The way it works is that all of the participants are given a nametag of another delegate. They are asked to search and find that person in the room. When they do, they should find as much as they can about that person. Then that delegate has to introduce the person whose nametag they were given at the start.
It’s an amazing networking exercise that is quite different from the norm and helps the delegates meet new people and get to know them.
10. Question Ball
Question ball is an amazing icebreaker for meetings and seminars. The way it works is that the host will take a big beach ball and write different questions on it that are fun and punchy. The questions can be like:
- What has been your biggest professional win to date?
- What sort of hidden talents do you possess?
- If you could be any Avenger one day, which one would it be?
Then the bandleader will toss the ball in the audience and tell the delegates to throw it around. The person who gets the ball would answer the question their right index finger landed on truthfully. Then they will pass the ball onwards to the next person. The more creative and interesting the questions, the better.
The Penny icebreaker technique is so amazing that even the introverts will come out of their shell and play.
The way it works is that the host will place a handful of pennies or any type of coins on every table. The attendees are told to pick one randomly from the bunch. Next, the attendees are asked to introduce each other one by one by stating information like their name, the company they work for, their role in said company and the year embossed on the penny they picked.
After that, they would tell a story regarding anything interesting that happened to them that year. They can also share any information with the others regarding something that made this year exceptional. See? Quick and informative.
If you have been part of icebreakers for meetings & training seminars in the past, do share your experiences through the comments section below. Don’t forget to bookmark this post because we will be adding a few extensions to our icebreakers list.
Good luck and have fun connecting with others in intuitive ways.
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