I then read out a few statements that will provide me with concrete information about the group, acknowledge previous experience the participants might have, and checking for background knowledge and information. This will of course depend on the theme. So for example, if the theme is online social media, I might ask questions like:
I am an active user of more than 1 social network.
I log on to a social networking site at least once a day.
I am a member of an online community of practice.
I usually put in a couple of fun statements, to really break the ice and get people smiling and possibly giggling. And finally, I try to bridge the icebreaker with what will follow next, by some statement like “I am open to learn more about…”
The activity itself will take a maximum of 5 minutes but if you plan the statements well, the answers will inform your decisions during the rest of the lesson or workshop with your students, trainees or staff members. And of course it does not stop there. I usually allow between 10 and 15 minutes to debrief and go through the reasoning behind the choice of activity, what this has done for me as the trainer, what it has done for the participants, and how the same activity could be adapted for the participants’ specific contexts.
There is no ready-made recipe for successful activities.
For an icebreaker, warmer, energiser or team building activity to be truly meaningful, you need to “own” it as your own, giving it your own particular flavour and colour, imbuing it with your personality and flair. It takes time, perseverance and an openness to fail and learn from your own mistakes. But it is definitely worth it!
Icebreakers, warmers and energisers are all valuable team building activities to get the team going and prepare the ground for active and meaningful co-operation. Next time your inner voices suggests skipping such an activity for lack of time or other apparent constraints, don’t take any notice and go right ahead!