Facilitating…the art of making a task easier.

ice-cubeWhat is your meaning of ICEBREAKER? For most, it is an activity designed to familiarize the group with each other. Sometimes it goes like this. “Tell me your name, your role and why you are here today?”. Be careful that you don’t start the the meeting off with data that everyone already knows. If you are facilitating a group of people who know each other, you don’t need to introduce them to each other or ask them why they are there. Most likely they are there because someone told them to come and I”m not sure you want to start off your meeting with those answers! You don’t want them to say, “here we go again, another stupid meeting”.

Keep in mind the participants, and their familiarity with each other. The ice breaker is meant to get people used to speaking aloud in the group and to be comfortable with their voice. If someone speaks during a meeting in the beginning, they are more likely to contribute throughout the meeting.

Designing a meeting is like writing a play. Each scene is carefully crafted. The difference is that the actors write their own scripts! You, as a facilitator need to consider what do you want the group to achieve at the end of this meeting and how do you want them to be different or evolve as a result of this event.

Design your “icebreaker” to have meaning that contributes to the outcome of the meeting. If you are meeting over a project that has just been completed, your “ice breaker” can be a discussion around what do the participants remember most about the project. It could be a reflection on how has this project completion affected them or their departments?

If you are looking for “ice breaker” activities, consider the “reason” you are doing it. Is there a communication problem with the group? If so, an ice breaker than brings to light communication problems that can then be discussed as a group, and takes the “blame” off the group for having bad communication. They may recognize habits they personally experience during the discussion and debrief and you can then develop a list of what makes “meaning and effective communication”?

Think about each of your activities and write down on paper, what do you hope to achieve by each one? It will shed some sun light on your design and keep your ice breaker from melting in the sun.

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