Icebreakers: How to Make Them Effective

Recently, we discussed why icebreakers are important. Now, I want to explain what makes an icebreaker effective. Some people love them, and others can’t stand them. However, you feel about them, researchers have found that feelings of closeness are sparked when people share things about themselves. What makes an effective icebreaker?

Rules for Effective Icebreakers

Effective icebreakers are important to understand. We need to know why icebreakers happen and what makes them amazing. What should happen when presenting an icebreaker effectively is the following:

Don’t call it an icebreaker

People groan when they hear the word “icebreaker.” Seriously, try saying it in front of a bunch of people. Groaaaannn. Use “warm-up activity” or another phrase instead to get buy-in from the get-go.

There should be no awkward silence

If you are doing an activity that involves thinking time, a good idea is to put music on in the background. It doesn’t have to be blasting, but should be loud enough to hear. This is always a smart choice due to the fact that some individuals are quicker at brainstorming than others. If someone completes the activity before other individuals, you don’t want that awkward silence of them just sitting there staring until everyone else is done. Having music on in the background is always positive because they can sing along to it in their head or just listen to something other than people writing on paper. They are not in the classroom – they are at a fun meeting.

Warm up the conversations

Icebreakers should be fun and involve everyone. It’s much better when you have everyone chatting rather than just sitting there. A good icebreaker might involve individuals getting to know one another by asking questions, throwing a ball around that makes them answer something, or even shouting out random numbers.

Make people feel more relaxed and comfortable

There are not many people out there that like to come into a meeting where it is quiet and awkward. One way to avoid this is to play music in the background and greet everyone who walks through the door. People love to be greeted. After this interaction, individuals feel more relaxed and excited to be there. Most people appreciate being noticed in some way or another. This interaction shows that you care about them and that they feel important. It will make them want to keep coming back.

Ensure that participants enjoy their interaction and the session itself

This is important and highlights some of the previous statements said above. You want a group that enjoys what is going on and that they are having fun. Once you get an understanding of the group you are involved with, it is smart to provide activities that they will like. If you have a quiet group, a “loud” icebreaker probably isn’t going to work. It’s important to find the perfect icebreaker and type of activity that fits well with the group you’re working with.

Until next time, have a great day!

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