There was a time when it was good to break the ice by doing a speaking tour.
For 15 to 30 minutes, it was all about stressing out before your turn (what am I going to say, how?) and de-stressing afterwards (OUF it’s over). At the end, few people had listened and everyone had experienced an emotional strain that made them tired for the day.
And then one day, the playful ice-breakers arrived!
Get people moving, interacting in a fun way, mixing random people, allowing them to express themselves and discover each other, before returning to a more professional setting. These are the characteristics of a successful ice breaker. The primary goal of any ice breaker is indeed to ensure inclusion.
👉The ice breaker signals the passage into a ‘magic circle’ where a group of people becomes a time-limited team, interacting in an a-hierarchical and a-polemical way, with ‘other’ rules and ways of thinking, to efficiently produce content (decision, analysis, ideas…).
👉The ice breaker is therefore essentially a shift to human interactions outside of the daily work routine.
👉 The ice breaker contributes, through its playfulness, to create a pleasant atmosphere that makes people want to go further, despite the effort to interact differently, in a collective mode.
The facilitator will use his or her repertoire and knowledge of group dynamics to choose or adjust, here and now, depending on the people gathered, the most appropriate formula to intrigue without being too abrupt.
As a facilitator, we start by following the recipe and then, through practice and passion, with time we know how to dose the ingredients to ensure a great success.
So get started, practice makes perfect!
In need of ideas to get started? Just type ‘icebreaker pdf’ in a search engine and you will be spoilt for choice.
Here is an ice breaker that I particularly like: THE MASK BALL (very topical).
It works very well in large groups, with teams that do not know each other well, with teams that have not seen each other for a long time (which is also very topical!):
Materials: sheets of A4 paper, colored markers with large tips, a speaker for your smartphone music
Instructions to be given
Ask each participant to take a sheet of paper and a felt-tip pen.
Specify that while the music is playing they walk around the room with their material.
As soon as the music stops, they also stop and exchange their paper with the person closest to them, and then carry out the instructions given at the time by the facilitator. When the music starts again, they take their sheet and start walking around the room again.
This sequence will be repeated several times with the following instructions (to be given as you go along):
- Draw the nose
- Draw the eyes
- Draw the ears
- Draw the hair
At the end, the music is stopped and the students are asked to mark their first name on the sheet. All the portraits will be displayed on a wall to show the “beautiful masked ball team”.
- Do it with groups of at least 8 people.
- Choose a rhythmic and joyful music, not too fast nor too slow
- Do not reveal at the beginning that they are going to draw a portrait
- Vary the length of the drawing time as well as the walking time in the room to keep the surprise effect.
- If the group is uneven, ask the person who is alone to ‘join’ a pair to work with 3 people (they always succeed!)
Benefits: a joyful atmosphere in less than a few minutes, which de-dramatizes and makes spontaneus even the most serious Leading Team.