Icebreakers are activities that help people open up and get to know one another in a group setting. Teachers, bosses, youth leaders or other types of instructors may use icebreakers in a classroom or office to try and foster a comfortable atmosphere. You can adapt icebreakers for different situations and groups of people. If you have a group of people who are meeting for the first time, you may need icebreaker activities that focus on introductions.
You can create brief introduction icebreakers that won't drag on too long or cause people's attentions to drift. Have everyone sit in a circle and ask one person to start by introducing herself. Each person is allocated one minute to introduce herself. In their introductions, people may want to talk about what they like or share a fact or two about themselves with the group. Another idea is to break up into smaller groups of two or three and give each group member one minute to introduce herself to her other group members. After each group member has shared, have all of the small groups form one large circle. Go around the room and have each smaller group share with the larger group something that they learned about their fellow group members.
People can meet new people through icebreaker mingling activities. Have each person write down on a piece of paper a question that he would like to ask other people. He might ask other people what their dream holiday vacation would be or anything else that he can think of. Have people walk around the room and introduce themselves to others. After stating their names, people can ask one another the questions written on their slips of paper. Another idea is to have each person write down something about himself, such as a favorite childhood memory, on a slip of paper. People must then walk around the room and introduce themselves to one another. While introducing themselves, people can share their personal facts with one another and see what they have in common.
Strangers can get to know one another through random matching icebreakers. Have each person take off one of her shoes and place it in the center of the room. Ask everyone to go and pick up one shoe that is not her own. She must find the owner of the shoe and introduce herself to him. Another idea is to write each person's name on a name tag and put it in a box. Have people come up to the box and randomly pick out a name tag. They must then go and locate the person whose name tag they picked and introduce themselves to that person.
You can facilitate introduction icebreakers that encourage people to work together to form a single line. Have people form a line in order of birth dates. Everyone must work together and line up according to when their birthdays fall during the year. Once in line, a person can meet the individuals standing on either side of her. Another idea is to have everyone organize themselves according to height. Have people organize themselves in a line from tallest to shortest. Start at one end of the line and let each person have a chance to say his name aloud to the group. The group must then all together repeat his name back to him. This will help people remember one another's names.
- "147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students"; Robert Magnan; 2005
- "300+ Sizzling Icebreakers"; Michael Puffett; 2010
- Northern Illinois University College of Education; Icebreakers; Laura Tillery
- ReproLine Tools for Trainers: Icebreakers and Introductions
- Photo Credit Paul Sutherland/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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