The 3 Keys to Effective Icebreakers and Team-Building Activities
Start writing a post

The 3 Keys to Effective Icebreakers and Team-Building Activities


The 3 Keys to Effective Icebreakers and Team-Building Activities

Typically when people come together for an activity such as a meeting or a workshop, they are a bit anxious. They are filled with questions. What's going to happen here today? What will I need to do? Will I be able to perform adequately? Will people like me?

Not only are they anxious, but they are also preoccupied. They're thinking about children at daycare, work projects, or errands that will be run after work. If you are looking for some creativity from the group, you'll be hard-pressed to find any.

For fun meetings in a business setting in which participants are professionals, icebreakers that require actions not normally associated with day-to-day behaviors in the office generally make people uncomfortable. Successful icebreakers for these types of groups generally consist of having attendees share memorable information, creating innovative ways to get people to introduce themselves to each other, or having group members collectively work on a problem where everyone must contribute. Icebreakers cut through both distractions. They help people forget about their anxiousness and preoccupations, allowing them to focus on the task at hand.

Icebreakers come in many flavors. Some are focused on helping people quickly and easily become acquainted with one another. Others present the participants with a challenging activity that requires their full attention. Still, others are just plain fun, giving people a chance to laugh and smile.

People sometimes skip icebreakers because they want to immediately get down to business. A 5-10-minute icebreaker investment is never a waste of time. It's a great first step on the road to a productive and creative session.

You may be looking for team-building activities to fill time or keep the energy high in a meeting, but keep in mind that the best learning occurs when people are enjoying themselves...having fun! With that, consider the importance of selecting well-thought-out activities that capitalize on the "fun quotient" to teach a point or reinforce behavior or capability. These "Teachable Point" activities usually involve some type of group activity where the teachable moment is facilitated by the leader at the end, during the debriefing session. In selecting your team-building activity, keep the following considerations in mind:

Determine the needs of your team or group...what do they need to learn, improve on, have reinforced, or practice? Find a way to adapt your activity to build on the real-world goals of your team or organization.

Identify sources of meeting ice breakers, team-builders, and energizers that allow you to continually present fresh, new activities. Teaching and reinforcing the skills you want to develop in your team should involve ongoing events and keep team members engaged from meeting to meeting. Continually give them something new to do as a group. Take the team-building beyond just a meal and an off-site event, get people moving, thinking, and working together to do a task, and then reinforce the activity with teachable points.

Keep the teachable point alive to continue the right thoughts and behaviors beyond the event day. Reward people when they demonstrate the desired behaviors both during the activity and afterward. You could use an inexpensive trinket, a token, a coupon...anything that recognizes the behavior. Reinforce the teachable points in a post-event memo, letter, or newsletter. Build on the points at the next meeting with a different activity that reinforces a complimentary set of behaviors and needs.

If developing an activity that will allow you to do all of this seems daunting, keep in mind that you don't have to be the expert with all the ideas, just the expert with access to the ideas. Doing a quick web search for keywords related to icebreakers or team-building activities will reveal the plethora of books, binders, CDs, eBooks, and websites with turn-key ideas ready for your next meeting. The big convenience of having a few of the commercial products in your library is that the authors and publishers have done all of the hard work for you and laid out the details of the best way to conduct the activity, even organizing the content by categories to help you quickly find the right activity for your group. This leaves you with more time to plan for the rest of your meeting.

Remember, having fun engages the senses, which leads to a better learning experience. It's your job as the leader or facilitator to create an atmosphere where people can have fun.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments