The term Ice Breaker is known by every facilitator. We know that in order for the people in our class or meeting to learn anything from us they have to feel safe and in order for them to feel safe they have to trust us. In order for them to trust us we have to build rapport with them and in order to build rapport with them, you have to get to know them. Sometimes when we are rushed for time at the beginning of a class or long meeting we skip the ice breaker thinking the content is the most important part. Well I'm going to throw this out there and say what if the ice breaker is the most important part.
Selecting the proper ice breaker can be hard as a facilitator but I think as long as we remember our P.I.C.K. breaking the ice can be easy.
- P = Purposeful: If you can tie the ice breaker to the objectives of your class then you start them off in the right mindset and you setup the environment in which they are going to learn in. If you are going to be role playing customer service interactions maybe you start off with an ice breaker of a bad situation they will play out. If you are going to be showing your group how to train and give instructions maybe you start them off with teaching someone how to tie a shoe and see how hard it is to give proper instructions. If your group is going to be sharing personal information then you can start them off with hearing a story of your own, showing your vulnerability and how safe you feel. Tie the ice breaker to the purpose of the class.
- I = Imagination: We all have done two truths and a lie but have you done two wishes and a truth? Use your imagination, mix it up! Take traditional ice breakers and tweak them to make them match your environment and audience.
- C = Connection: Remember the purpose of an ice breaker is to build a connection with the people in the room and for them to build a connection with each other. Building rapport creates a safe space so make sure you are giving room for that in the ice breaker. Don't rush the time! Give them the time to ask how traffic was that morning, how their kids are, what did they eat for breakfast. Give time for the small talk and let them build the connections with each other.
- K = Keep it simple and FUN: Doesn't matter if you are facilitating to CEO's or brand new hourly employees, you want to start off with something simple but fun. In David Rock's SCARF model he talks about "Status" and if you start off your ice breaker with something simple that everyone can succeed at then you start off the class with them feeling accomplished. Starting off on the right foot to learning can help ease into the difficult information that might be harder for them to grasp later. When you have set up the environment with fun and have created the safe space it will allow them to feel comfortable enough to fail in that space and truly learn!
There are a million ice breakers online! P.I.C.K. the one that works for you! :)
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.