Some people love them, others loathe them, but nonetheless ice breakers make for an excellent - if sometimes daft - way to make introductions in formal settings.
|Image Credit: BluehatGroup|
If you think about the kinds of times that they are wheeled out - at first-time meetings, training days, employee inductions - and then it's clear to understand that all of these events can be pretty intimidating for all parties concerned.
For the employer and affiliate team members, they're trying to make their company seem like a welcoming, open-minded, friendly and non-critical workplace. For those coming into the meeting organisation, well... they're trying to do exactly the same, all whilst asserting a little bit of their character in the process.
In effect, the ice breaker is the middle man between these two parties; both are looking to make an impression, but neither wants to be loud, brash, arrogant or standoffish - nor too quiet, timid and uninteresting. A compromise (the ice breaker) is needed to gently ease people in.
So if this is point of an ice breaker, just what kinds of activities are going to have the maximum impact?
All ice breaking events should be inclusive of all parties, because this is the point of them! If there's an opportunity for the shyest member of the team to break away, then the activity hasn't actually achieved its goal - which is to engage all participants.
One of the best ways to engage all participants is to coax the individuals into playing activities that rely on sequential input from all members; perhaps a word association game to get everyone chatting. This will no doubt inject some much-needed humour into the process - and this is an essential tool to help people bond with one another.
Putting on physical activities sometimes isn't as effective, because people can be self-conscious about their image or physical ability. However, if a physical event encourages trust between participants; such as catching a falling person, then perhaps people might learn to overcome their jitters and embrace their colleagues quickly.
Another aspect to conducting the perfect ice breaker is that the chosen activity will be personal. It should enable people to open up about themselves without paying too much.
Speaking frankly, people want to know about other people. This is why a good activity will try and cover (at least) a person's basic details; as in, who they are, what they do, where they're from and why they are at the team building event.
By getting everyone to divulge this information, people can quickly make assertions about who might interest them in a friendly capacity, where they have common ground together, or how they might be able to work together in future.
There's a boundary of course, which shouldn't be breached. Details should be limited to those which might be practical for working purposes; however, there's no problem with letting people tell more than the activity requires. If anything, letting people talk openly - and within their own limits - helps illustrate how much of a success the event is.
About the Author: Magnus Ward is a professional writer, blogger and also a globetrotter. Currently he lives in Brighton, UK. In the above post, he has come up with some great suggestions for corporate events like ice breakers. To know more, you may connect him via Google+Tags: good activity, maximum impact, Magnus Ward, word association game