Engaging Staff/Delegates by Breaking the Ice

Engaging Staff/Delegates by Breaking the Ice

Have you ever been to a conference/workshop or been new in a job and felt a little awkward because you don’t know a lot of folks? I sure have. Perhaps you don’t know what to say to meet someone or you just don’t like reaching out. Perhaps you are an introvert. Last month, I was talking with some industry folks and we got onto this subject. All of us “veterans” in the industry readily admitted that “breaking the ice” is tough sometimes. So, we brainstormed some ideas that I thought might help you as well.

Here are the three most fun (and effective) “ice breakers.”

  1. Ask each person in the group (you can do this with larger groups too) to write a little-known fact about themselves on a slip of paper. Put these in a bowl or container, have each person draw one out, and then have to find that person (if a large group). Or, if it is a small group, read it out and try to guess who it “belongs to.” I remember when Ross Marsh held dinner parties for clients, prospects, and friends as part of his activation at the WSC. At the dinner (where probably only about half the people knew each other), he had each person tell a “little-known secret” about themselves. It really broke the ice. This is a twist on that approach. (Maybe sometime I will tell you some of the secrets that I revealed about myself at these dinners.)
  1. Another one that Ross used was, “Tell me what book you are presently reading.” Our team of brainstormers also came up with, “Name your favorite move of all time,” “Name two chores you hate doing,” “Name your favorite meal,” or “Name three favorite vegetables.” Get people to name one or more of their “favorite” or most disliked things. This will get lots of laughs. Then others should inquire why they love or hate something so much! This is a great ice breaker for small or large groups.
  1. They always say, “Misery loves company,” so use it as an icebreaker. Break people into groups and get each person to tell about their worst job ever, worst boss, or worst event they attended. People bond over such stories and will interject—and remember—the funnier the better at breaking the ice!

I hope this helps you either for breaking the ice personally, or using at your work or conference/event.

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