Employees who are asked to work in a team or group environment might feel a little uncomfortable at first, especially if the team is just being organized. Ice breakers help break these barriers and get everyone comfortable with each other. Icebreaker activities should be fun, energizing and designed to ease tension.
Ice breakers encourage participants to relax, build confidence and get to know each other. Team members should get an opportunity to share interesting information about themselves and build camaraderie. In some cases, the facilitator might ask participants to share their expectations for the team and the work they will be doing.
When to Use
You can use ice breaker techniques when people don't know each other or when they don't work together very often. These techniques are especially useful when the participants come from different departments in a company. You can also use ice breakers if the participants in your group are from different backgrounds. If you need people to bond quickly and achieve a common goal, ice breaker activities provide a quick fix.
For Small Groups
Icebreaker activities for small groups should help participants become more comfortable around each other. For example, in the game “Big Winds Blow,” players sit in a circle around one player who is the “big wind.” The “big wind” will mention a characteristic about himself and all the players with the same characteristic must find a new seat. You can also conduct ”get to know each other” games if you want members to form a bond. A good example is “two truths and a lie." In this exercise, a player states two facts and one lie about herself. Players must guess which is the lie.
For Large Groups
The trick to effective large group icebreakers is to keep them simple and fun. If need be, separate the large group into smaller groups and allow the small groups to play their own individual icebreaker games. To help people learn interesting facts about each other, play the “Autograph” game. In this game, the facilitator prepares worksheets containing 10 to 20 criteria such as “knows how to play more than two sports” or “speaks more than two languages.” Each participant gets a worksheet and will look for people to sign the criteria on the worksheet. The catch is that no one can sign each sheet more than once. The game is designed to help people learn interesting facts about each other. You can also have groups answer questions designed to reveal more about their interests and personalities. Have a moderator ask questions such as, "If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?"; "If you were an animal, what would you be and why?"; "When you were little, who was your favorite super hero and why?"; and "If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would you want to play you?"