🧊I used to dread leading icebreakers.
The mere mention of the word “icebreaker” brought up all kinds of awkward memories for me. I got flashbacks of my overly enthusiastic camp counselor asking me to do things that I didn’t feel comfortable doing.
I had to face my own resistance.
When I started facilitating groups, I tried to avoid icebreakers so I didn’t have to feel awkward. Not surprisingly my group members remained guarded and distant.
I realized that icebreakers are a vital part of group work.
Icebreakers (when done well) help people ease into your session. They help people feel safe and comfortable with the group. And they fast-track your group’s ability to connect in more meaningful ways.
There are tried-and-tested ways to do them well.
I learned techniques from other facilitators who led icebreakers that didn’t feel cringey. I started experimenting with icebreakers that felt natural to me. I chose ones that fit my audience and purpose. And it changed everything!
How do you lead cringe-free icebreakers? That’s our Quest for this week🔎
👉3 Lessons from Nick Gray’s 2-Hour Cocktail Party
👉10 pro tips for leading cringe-free icebreakers
👉Butter’s 42 Fresh Virtual Icebreakers from top facilitators
📘Lessons from The 2-Hour Cocktail Party
If you love gathering people you’ll love this book by Nick Gray. He shares a simple party-hosting formula for “building big relationships through small gatherings”.
Chapter 12 is a masterclass on leading beginning icebreakers. These are often the scariest to lead. As the host (facilitator) you are taking your first risk with the group. And icebreakers can easily send people into their panic zones.
Here’s what Grey says makes for a good beginning icebreaker question:
✅It’s a question that everyone can answer
✅It reveals a little bit about the person’s personality
✅It’s quick to answer
His first icebreaker question is “what’s your favorite breakfast food?”. He goes first, adding a bit of vivid detail. “Scrambled eggs and spinach, with a secret ingredient — coconut oil.” It models the kind of answer he is looking for from the group.
For more check out Gray’s Ultimate Guide to Leading Icebreakers.
Thanks to Quest reader Alexandra Allen for recommending this book.
🧊10 pro tips for leading cringe-free icebreakers
Here’s a Twitter thread with the tips that I wish I knew when I started leading icebreakers:)
|Gwyn Wansbrough @gwynwans 🧊A good opening icebreaker can fast-track connection in your virtual groups. But icebreakers can also feel cringy and awkward. Success comes down to your ability to lead them well. Here are 10 pro tips for leading cringe-free icebreakers 🧵👇 February 20th 2023 0 Retweets 2 Likes|
Here’s the summary:
10 pro tips for leading cringe-free opening icebreakers👇
1/ ✅Start easy
2/ ✅Keep it light
3/ ✅Find the stretch zone
4/ ✅Share the “why”
5/ ✅Go first
6/ ✅Tailor it to the purpose
7/ ✅Design for group size
8/ ✅Move quickly
9/ ✅Interrupt over-talkers
🧈Virtual Icebreakers: 42 Fresh Activities From Top Facilitators by Butter
Online facilitation platform Butter surveyed top facilitators for their favorite virtual icebreakers and put them into this “kick-butt” guide.
I especially like how the guide breaks down why you should run virtual icebreakers, and 9 best practices. It also covers a full range of icebreakers including quick check-ins, connection-builders, creative activities, energizers, and discussion-starters.
My favorites are #11 On and Off and #35 Spectrum Questions. And I’m excited to try out #32 Stretch and Share.
What’s your favorite icebreaker?
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