Ideas for icebreakers in meetings or workshops

If you need ideas for icebreakers for your next meeting or workshop, you’re in the right place.

This compilation of ideas for icebreakers has been put together in partnership with my long-time colleagues Will Bessen and Margo O’Byrne.

Activities for new groups

Quick disclosure

Ask participants for either a:

  • Description of yourself using your initials
  • Highlight of your last two weeks
  • Something you’re really good at
  • The last time you were on a plane was
  • What you like most about _________

Sociometric lines or continuums (larger groups)

The questions used in the process can be designed to highlight particular skills and experience that participants may bring to the groupIdeas for icebreakers

  1. Get the group to form an imaginary line or arc across the room (or outside)
  2. Get people to move from one part of the line (or continuum) based on experience, background, memberships, location, organisation etc.
  • Do this quickly, using a range of questions, which can include:
  • How far have you travelled to get here today?
  • What’s the level of energy that you have for today’s workshop?
  • How experienced are you in working in this field?
  • How long have you been working in your organisation?

Favourites – (any sized group)

This is a good energising exercise that can be used with pretty much any group! The hardest part is getting people to stop talking!

  • Provide participants with an A4 piece of paper
  • Ask them to write down four of their ‘favourites’ (in big letters)
  • This could be favourite film, food, hobby, aunty, holiday spot, cafe, TV show, beach, drive, season, wine region – the options are endless
  • Get them up on their feet and moving around the room. Their task is to grab someone they don’t know and discuss their favourites. See if they have favourites in common.

Colour Advance

In pairs, choose a speaker and a listener for a 3 min exercise. The speaker can start talking on a topic of their choice.

The listener has two prompts during the exercise that the speaker must follow:

  • ‘Colour’ to request more detail on something they hear (e.g. ‘Colour your love for surfing’), and
  • ‘Advance’ when they’ve heard enough on a topic and want the speaker to change tact

Hold a 3 min conversation, swap roles and repeat the exercise.

Take the time to reflect on how it felt to be in each role and what effects the prompts had on the conversation.

Activities for existing groups

Something You May Not Know About Me

Ask participants to tell the group something about themselves which may be unknown – e.g.  I play the drums; I spent a year living in Italy; I grew up on a farm.  This deepens participants’ knowledge of each other and provides another point of relating.

Activities for long standing groups

Use Photo Language or something similar and ask participants, “Which photo represents how you feel about the issue?”  This can assist people to detach from a fixed position, can activate the creative juices and enable participants to focus on their hopes and dreams and / or underlying concerns.

Describe as a meal

Ask participants, “If you had to describe yourself (or the issue) as a meal, what would you / it be?”

More ideas for icebreakers

If you need a hand with the design or facilitation of your next workshop, be sure to get in touch

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Andrew Huffer

Andrew Huffer has over 25 years experience in working with organisations, businesses, managers and communities and at a state, national and international level. He designs and delivers specialist engagement processes, with a focus on facilitating open decision making processes and skill development of clients. He has delivered presentations and workshops at a number of state, national and international conferences.

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