Organisers put so much effort into planning their business event, quite often an ice breaker is added with little thought to the delegates attending. It’s difficult for compulsory interactions to take place without self-consciousness creeping in and not all personalities enjoy being extrovert in a group of people they don’t know.
I feel it’s a missed opportunity as introduced correctly; ice breakers can be a useful tool. By considering the activity in relation to your audience, you can encourage more reserved individuals to contribute, and people can converse in a natural way, ready to engage with the day ahead.
Training or Workshop Seminar
The aim of any learning environment is to inspire your audience to make the most of the session. Conventional ‘fact sharing’ and game-based ice breakers are often used in this instance, however some people are uncomfortable revealing personal details or feel foolish. As an alternative, why not use the shared topic of the workshop for an initial exercise based around sharing expectations? Split everyone into small huddles and ask them to discuss their aims for the training. What do they want to achieve by attending your workshop? How is it relevant to their professional life? This will encourage connections from the get-go, and the bonus information is useful to you as the facilitator.
Networking or Conference Gathering
Hosting large conventions for a diverse range of companies and vocations is when an ice breaker is one the most useful means of getting things started. Try warming up the room by asking people to work together on a Q&A for the keynote speakers or conference panel. Limit it to two or three questions. Another suggestion is to host a solution focussed, peer-led ‘brainstorm’. In small groups, each delegate is asked to think of a challenge they are facing in their work. Their team is then given five minutes per individual to positively give advice and discuss solutions.
It helps if people already know each other and team building gives more scope for fun, ice breaker activities. If you are introducing employees to your business, bear in mind the new starters will already be feeling nervous. If your aim is to break down the barriers of departments or job titles, you need to create an atmosphere that encourages ideas and meaningful conversations. Socialising away from the formalities of the workplace enables everyone to relax and get to know one another. Aside from drinks down the pub, try volunteering as a group in the community. There are lots of non-profits who would appreciate the help, and your company will be actively, socially responsible. Employees will connect with each other better, feel good about themselves and you will build a stronger team.