Even groups of people who’ve known each other for ages and are familiar with each other on an ongoing basis can struggle to break past that initial barrier and begin forming meaningful connections. Everybody comes into the situation with their own ego, baggage, fears of judgment, need to prove themselves, and a variety of other desires and emotions that can color their behavior.
This is why ice breakers are so popular. They give each member of a recently-formed group the opportunity to share about themselves while learning a little bit about others. Ice breakers play a significant role in ramping up people’s comfort level and making them feel at ease working with peers.
Below, I’ve provided a handful of fresh suggestions to keep on hand for the next time you need to pull an ice breaker out of your back pocket. These exercises are intended to disarm the group and start inciting authentic thoughts and emotions like laughter, empathy, and love. Your team will be able to learn new things about each other and foster deeper connections thanks to these sharing opportunities.
Three Ice Breakers to Help Increase In-Person Engagement
What’s Your Wallpaper?
This one is almost too easy. All you need to do is have each team member take out their cell phone and display their wallpaper image. Every member of the group will have a dedicated amount of time to explain why they’ve chosen that image and what it means to them.
This exercise grants team members the opportunity to share a personal aspect of themselves in a quick, fun way. Chances are you’ll get some insight into people’s families (kids, pets, spouses) and lives (hobbies, vacations, favorite visual artists), which will make fostering meaningful connections much easier. Beginning with a “why” gives us the opportunity to explore and understand each other’s preferences, beliefs, and values.
Keeping ice breakers fun and light helps your team feel at ease. All too often, we go into groups paranoid about appearing professional or capable enough; remove those social barriers immediately for more effective communication.
Let’s Get Real
Traditional introductions can get a little drab. Most people are uncomfortable introducing themselves, even when there’s no reason to be. Work with that nervous energy and go all-in to create a scenario that allows team members to dive deep within themselves.
If everyone will be nervous to share information about themselves regardless, get creative and ask provocative questions. If you’re stuck going around the table having everyone give their elevator pitches, ask the members of the group to state their name and answer these two questions: “How do you think the world sees you?” And then, “How do you see yourself?”.
This exercise is designed to get deep, fast. It fosters an open and honest environment and creates a sense of sheer vulnerability. This is an excellent way to bond your group quickly.
Find Nearby Through LinkedIn
Ice breakers in more professional situations can almost feel a little out of place; fortunately, LinkedIn serves as a great platform to break the ice and maintain the “professional” vibe of the space. Networking groups, small conferences, and kick-off meetings are a great opportunity to leverage this one.
Have everyone open up their LinkedIn app and click on the connections icon at the bottom left. Then, they can click on “Find Nearby” in the top middle of the page. When everybody in a room is on this page at the same time, they can all see one another’s LinkedIn profiles and click to connect.
This ice breaker gives the group an opportunity to connect online and continue conversations after they meet in person. This is especially ideal for scenarios where there’s no time to get personal (or getting personal might feel out of tune with the social setup of the scenario). You’ll be able to get to work quickly, but still provide group members with the chance to learn more about each other later on.
The secret to making your meetings and projects more effective lies in inciting group members to connect deeply with each other from the outset of the project. Ice breakers are an excellent way for agency, team, and group leaders to promote connection between group members– and better connections mean more effective and meaningful outcomes.
After spending fifteen years starting, scaling, and selling my own digital agency, I work with creative teams to help guide them and their leaders to success. Interested in learning more about how you can elevate your team’s drive to innovate through creating meaningful connections? Get in touch with me today.