Many people who attend meetings are on edge. They may not know the other participants. Even if they do, they may be nervous about speaking at such a gathering. Icebreakers at the start of a meeting can help put everyone at ease. When people are able to relax and connect with each other, a meeting stands a greater chance of achieving its purpose and being a success.
Ask each person at the meeting to prepare three simple statements about his or her life. One of these should be false. Each person in turn announces his or her statements. The others try to guess which one is false.
Divide the meeting into small groups. Present each group with a topic that requires them to draw up a list. For example: What would you pack on a trip to the Arctic? Give the groups two minutes to write their lists. Ask each group to report back to the meeting. Declare the group with the longest list the winner.
Write numbers on pieces of paper. The numbers must be in sequence. Give meeting participants one piece of paper each. Tell participants to line themselves up in number order. They must keep their numbers secret and they must not communicate to each other by voice or with their hands. The purpose of the game is to find alternative means of communication.
Ask every person at the meeting, in turn, to give a brief description of their worst job. Encourage the others to pass comment. Sharing experiences like this encourages a relaxed conversational tone.
Prepare name tags in advance. Give each person someone else’s name tag. Tell everyone to find the person whose name tag they are holding. Ask each pair to talk to each other about personal interests for two minutes. To encourage the flow of conversation, tell participants to ask questions about hobbies and family.
Organize everyone at the meeting into a circle. Go around the circle asking each person to say his or her name and perform a physical action. Examples of such actions are dancing or doing a short exercise routine. Everyone in the circle must then copy this. At the end, produce a tennis ball. Ask people to throw this from one member of the circle to another. The person about to throw the ball must give the name of the person who should catch it. The ball thrower must also perform the physical action of the named person.