Posted: Wed 4th Jun 2014
Entering a room full of business people is always scary even if you're a well-known business person yourself. It's intimidating to walk in to a group of strangers and then have to sit with them for an hour. With this in mind, it's always useful to introduce some ice-breakers at the beginning of your meeting - it will lighten the mood and it will avoid a tense atmosphere forming. People also tend to perform better and be more creative when they are relaxed.
No I don't mean interviewing each and every person as if they were in a real job interview as that would be even more intimidating than actually walking into the room. For this ice breaker everyone gets into pairs and interviews each other for around 2 minutes (the time for these ice breakers will depend on the length of your meeting). They'll find out where they're from, what they do, how many brothers and sisters or children they have and anything else that they feel they should ask. They will then report to the rest of the group what they have found out about their partner. It's a simple way to get to know a bit of background about the people attending the meeting.
This doesn't have to be long; it can just be a quick ice breaker to get everyone talking. The aim of the game is to send the coin around and everyone says something that happened to them during the year on the coin. They could say where they were that year (school, college, uni) or what they remember from that year. It only takes a few minutes and it's interesting to hear the different stories.
Use a penny again (pennies can come in useful, you know) and send it around the room, get each person to flip it and if the penny lands on heads then the person must say a true statement, if it lands on tails then they should say something false and the rest of the group must guess whether the statement the person has said is true or false.
It's typical for people to forget names when there's so many to remember but the name game can help. It's like the 'I went to the shop and I bought an orange"¦ I went to the shop and I bought an orange and a pear' game but instead it's with names. The first person starts by stating their name and then the next person must say their name and the previous person's name - it is fun and it's a great way to learn the names of the people in the meeting.
This isn't about just throwing random questions out there, there has to be some sort of structure. Write some generic questions on pieces of paper, they could include 'What's your favorite film?' or 'If you had to eat one type of food for the rest of your life what would it be?' - Just make them light-hearted and fun. Put the questions into a pot and as everyone introduces themselves they pick a question and answer it in front of the group. It's a quick and easy way to get to know a fun fact about each member of the group.
Ice breakers can work really well if you, as the host, are enthusiastic about it and you make every feel welcome in the meeting. The worst type of ice breaker is something inappropriate or one where you have to say something interesting about yourself - people get shy and it's always awkward. Make it fun and allow everyone to be themselves before you delve into the creative and the serious business.