We’ve all been there before. Standard boardroom. Standard agenda. Standard meeting.
The reality is that many of us spend most of our work day shuffling in and out of meeting after meeting. Sometimes we know the team well and have worked with several or all of them in the past. Other times, it’s the start of a new project and your teammates are as much a mystery to you as when your next break from meetings will be. At FROM, we strive to make every meeting exciting, relevant, and fully collaborative. Having every member of the team active and involved is critical for a meeting’s success. Something we’ve often used to accomplish this is a fast, fun, and effective ice-breaker.
You might be thinking that your team is too busy, too mature, or too professional to engage in ice-breakers – but you might be wrong! An ice-breaker might be just the thing that is missing from your strategy!
Three Reasons Ice-Breakers set your team up for success:
As adults and professionals, though we may secretly enjoy the chance to participate in some tomfoolery it certainly takes us out of our comfort zones. Getting the group out of their "boxes" is beneficial in many ways. One of those benefits is the fact that we are all feeling uncomfortable together! This starts everyone off with a sense of comradery.
Introduce the Topic at Hand
When presented properly an ice-breaker can serve as an "appetizer". The truth is some members of the team may have a sour taste in their mouth about the pending point of discussion. Just as a chef carefully selects the appetizer that best sets the palate for the main course, the facilitator can use an ice-breaker to set the desired mood and tone for the "meat" of the meeting.
If you pay close attention to the participants and their mood, attitude, input, and responses, you may find that quiet Sally from financing has actually been harboring a multitude of ideas. You may find that the team member who you thought might have the strongest opinions, is instead actually eager to hear other team members input. Pay close attention to your team while their walls are down and you'll likely gain valuable insight that will aid in harmony and agility later on.
Still not sure how to break the ice? There are many sources for quick and exciting ice-breaker activities. A book like 201 Icebreakers: Group Mixers, Warmups, Energizers and Playful Activities, is just one example.
Three quick and simple exercises you can use anywhere:
Allow Me to Introduce Myself
Have everyone introduce themselves with the usual: name, rank and serial number, followed by the answer to a quirky question that gives some insight into them as a person. (e.g. what clubs they joined in high school, their best vacation EVER, what horrible television show is their guilty pleasure”, etc.)
Rock, Paper Scissors Tournament
Conduct a rapid, parallel rock paper scissors tournament where people pair off, do “best 2 out of 3” with their partners, and then the winners of each round play each other with the vanquished players obligated to be the “cheering squad” for their conqueror. After a few rapid rounds you will be down to the final two and the entire room is on one “team” or the other cheering for one of the combatants (a thumb wrestling championship can function similarly).
Never Have I Ever
This can be a fun, quick way to get everyone talking, and find out what your team members have in common. Everyone starts with five fingers. Have the whole group go around in a circle and, in rapid succession, say one thing that they’ve never done. Whoever has done that thing puts a finger down, and you keep going, until there’s one person left standing. They win! (or lose, depending on how you look at it.)
If you are looking for a great meeting space in midtown New York then you should check out the Innovation Loft. Tell them I sent you!