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15 Ice Breakers That Instantly Connect You with Anyone at Work and Party

15 Ice Breakers That Instantly Connect You with Anyone at Work and Party
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We’ve all faced being the “newbie” one time or another. New to school, new in college, new at work or even moving into a new neighborhood – or simply being a new face leading or moderating a session. Whilst we may be great talkers with our friends, introducing ourselves to new faces and basically trying to “belong” into a group can end up making most nervous.

We are afraid of saying the wrong thing and making really awful first impressions so more often than not we dither and feel awkward, especially if the group you want to have a conversation with seems tight knit. The solution: try some tested and trusted ice breakers.

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When Would You need Ice Breakers?

Think of all the situations you’ve ever been in when you were the one needing to introduce yourself to a group or just some new faces. It could have been at school or college, at work or in a gym, at a conference or a training session, at a meeting or even at the PTA meeting – standing in one corner and feeling awkward never helped, did it? But a smile and a witty opening often did – and so ice breakers come in handy anytime you want people to feel comfortable with you and listen to you, or have a conversation with you.

In large groups like meetings and training sessions, ice breakers help people engage with each other and get cracking [1]. Ice breakers are supposed to do multiple things:

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  • Thaw the ice: The ice is usually the fact that the people in the group (including you) haven’t met and interacted with each other.
  • Turn the participants into contributors: Be it a training session or just a conversation, ice breakers are meant to draw people out of their shells and contribute their bit to the interaction.
  • Create commonality and connection: Ice breakers should basically use a common factor that all the people in the group share – think of common things that could warm up the group and get them excited and involved, as a group.

15 Ice Breakers That Truly Thaw the Chill

Ice breakers can be categorized in various ways – suited to smaller groups or larger audiences, or ice breakers that are activity based, interest based, party based or simple introductory ones as well [2]. So now that you know the basics of icebreakers, let’s list out 15 tried, trusted and tested ice breakers that many public speakers and experts often use, as and when needed.

At Work: Introductory Ice Breakers For Sessions and Training

These are used when an oddball mix of a group comes together, and most are strangers to each other. Introductory ice breakers set the ball rolling, so as to speak and help shake off that awkward “I don’t know you from Adam” feeling..

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  • A Little Known Fact: Suitable for groups ranging from 10 to 20. In this introductory ice breaker, you ask each group member to list out their names, departments, years or service, what they do and one little known fact about themselves – usually, this incites many a laugh since people do try and be funny about their “facts”.
  • In One Word: Another way to get the ball rolling is by introducing a pertinent subject and then asking all the members of the group, to state their feelings about it in just one word, one by one. You will see a few smiles, some head shakes and plenty nods in this one.
  • Try Something Fun: Ice breakers don’t always have to be relevant for the meet/session afterwards, they are just there to get some laughs out and get the attention on you, the speaker. So to make a training session (that most participants might be dreading in all honesty) fun, start with a wacky question that gets people laughing even before the question. Like which animal/vegetable/Transformer/Barbie/GoT character would you be and why, if you were one! [3].
  • Twinkly, Shiny Work Moments: Ask each member of the group to stand up, introduce themselves and what they do, and then talk about the three best work movements they ever had. Invariably people will mention an award or achievement, a brainstorm moment they had and often, a time when everybody else pitched in to help him or her and proved that people can be friends at workplaces too.
  • Five of Anything: You can use ice breakers like these to spilt large groups into more manageable groups of three to five, to get the conversation started. But remember, get the participants to switch places – maybe one of each department in each group so as to get actual interaction rather than friends sitting with friends. Then ask each member to talk about five of anything to the others, till each member has had a turn. It could be anything, best novels, worst movies, favorite flowers, the best/worst things about the workplace… Finally one volunteer from each group will take notes and then read out everything to the whole group – generating plenty of laughs along the way [4].
  • Pass The Toilet Paper: So bathroom humor never gets old, no matter how old you get. To play this game, pass a roll of toilet paper around a group sitting in a circle telling them to take as much as they need. Everyone laughs at the amount people take, and once the roll is finished and everyone has had a go, you drop the bomb. For each piece of toilet paper taken, the person has to tell the group something about himself or herself that the others don’t know.
  • If I Could: Ask people to think about a situation – something they read, they saw – and talk about it for 2 minutes, and basically share their dreams, possible or impossible, with the group.

At A Party: Ice Breakers That Double Up As Hilarious Games

Getting a group of people together at a party often means a group of varied ages, interests, backgrounds and such, so the best way to get the party started, so as to speak, is get in a few of these ice breakers [5].

  • Groups That Draw Together: Get people to form random groups (every one wearing red, or all who love Johnny Depp) of equal numbers. Now hand each group a sheet of paper, a pencil and some colors and ask them to draw something, together. Each group can be given the same subject to draw on. Each member gets 60 seconds to draw something and then passes the same sheet to the next who continues the drawing, and so on and so forth. The group that finishes first, wins!
  • Doctor, I Have A Strange Disease: This game can either be played in one group of 10-15 people, or split into groups of 4-5 if there’s more of a crowd. One person acts out, in a silly and over the top manner, as a person with an illness, and the others have to guess the illness
  • My Other Half: This works well for large groups with people who don’t know much about each other. Make couple cards (think Adam & Eve, Romeo & Juliet, Bonnie & Clyde, etc) – write one name on each card with no repeats. Hand each guest one card – the game is that they have to find their other half by asking other guests yes or no questions only. The first couple to “complete themselves” wins.
  • Tell Us A Story: Draw a large grid square on a sheet of paper and in the four quadrants, write four fun topics: your worst date, the worst work day, the time you were most embarrassed and a vacation gone wrong. Guests line up and toss a coin at the quadrant, and then have to recite a story about the topic they “chose”. The funnier the better.
  • Do You Have? You can split a large group of guests into teams and then give each team a pre-prepared list of things to produce from their purses and pockets (think coins, $100 dollar bill, a baby picture, bifocals, a condom). Limited time and the team with everything or almost wins.
  • Animal Sounds: Each guest is handed one of a pair of cards, with an animal’s name on it, and on random and in secret, another guest is handed a duplicate of the same. Guests walk around making the sounds and doing the actions of those animals till they find their partner.
  • Nutty Questions, Nuttier Answers: Write zany questions on separate chits of paper – things like “Do you like potatoes?” Then on separate chits of paper, write equally zany answers like, “I have only one dream, and that’s it”. Stack the piles on each side of a table and split the group into two. One participant from the question group picks a chit and reads it, while one participant from the answer groups reads an answer – making for some really zany conversation!
  • Who Am I? Simple, easy but fun to do. Write the names of cartoon character on chits of paper, fold them and put them into a bowl. Now ask people to fish out chits one by one and then try and enact that character (think Goofy, Donald Duck, Betty Boop, Spock, Captain Jack Sparrow), while the others have to guess the name. Make the characters as funny and colorful as possible for some hilarious fun.

And you don’t have to limit yourself to just these ideas. If you are the host, think of the most fun you had at a party and take inspiration from there. And if it’s in the office, well, it doesn’t have to be a boring meeting, does it?

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Reference

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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