Breaking the Ice at a Business Meeting

Ideas to help your attendees feel welcomed and relaxed

In charge of getting your meeting off on the right foot? We’ve collected a dozen of our favorite ice breakers. Keep in mind your objectives for the meeting, the size of the group and how well its members know each other, then pick what’s best for you. Have a great meeting!

#1.
Year of the Coin

Grab enough coins to so that there’s one for everyone in your group (making sure that the coins were minted in their lifetime). Then ask each person to share something they were doing the year the coin was made. This is great for a group of less than 20, whether or not the attendees know each other well.

#2.
Two Truths and a Lie

Here’s another good icebreaker for small groups. Ask everyone to come up with two truths about themselves and one lie and present their list to the group. As everyone tries to guess what’s truthful or not, you’re guaranteed lively conversation and laughs.

#3.
Whodunit

On a note card, each person writes something interesting they’ve experienced, such as lived off-the-grid or won a hot dog-eating contest. Toss the cards into a hat and pass it around. Each participant randomly selects a card and then tries to connect the experience to the right person, explaining his or her rationale. If your group is large, divide it into manageable subgroups.

#4.
18 and Under

Ask each person around the table to tell everyone about an accomplishment they achieved before turning 18.

#5.
Live Poll

Technology makes it easy to break the ice—even with larger groups of 50 or more. Before your meeting begins, provide a link for your attendees to download the live polling software you select. Then, using either their smartphones, laptops or tablets, your audience members answer a series of questions, with everyone’s answers tallied in real time and projected on a screen. Design your questions around the meeting’s topic, corporate culture or lighthearted topics, such as, “Do you own at least one pet?” and “When’s the last time you ate a donut?”

#6.
The Scavenger Hunt

This is a great one to get people up and moving around the building or even beyond. Divide your group into teams or pairs and reward the winners with company branded merchandise or gift certificates.

#7.
Mash Up

Two volunteers stand up, count to three and then each say the first noun they think of. Then they go again, this time selecting a word that brings together the previous two. For example, if the words were ice cream and sunshine, the participants might both say summer. See how long it takes before they speak the same word. It’s a fun exercise to reinforce the idea of listening and teamwork.

#8.
Best Prank Ever

Even if your group members know each other well, this ice breaker leads to some great storytelling. Ask everyone to recount the best prank they played or were subjected to.

#9.
Worst Work Story

Everyone’s got a nightmare work story. Ask people to share theirs and then tell the group what they learned from the experience.

#10.
The Name Game

This is a great activity when you’re introducing new people to one another. Gather everyone in a circle or divide a larger group into smaller circles. Ask your attendees to come up with a word that describes their personality and begins with the same first letter of their name—for example, Jolly John or Organized Olivia. Then go around the circle and ask each person to recite everyone’s name combo in order. It’s surprising how easy it is to remember people’s names with descriptors in front of them.

#11.
Who am I?

Tape the name of someone famous or even a co-worker on the back of each group member. Everyone wanders around asking each other only yes or no questions, and participants must guess who “they” are.

#12.
Sketch Artist

Trust us: Someone is going to say, “But I can’t draw!” when you tell your group about this activity. That’s OK because it only makes it more fun. With paper and pencil in hand, ask everyone to sketch someone in the room. Then take turns sharing drawings while people guess the intended subject. This is an especially fun activity for people just getting to know one another because it helps people remember names—and loosen up.

To learn about planning a meeting at Monona Terrace, contact David Olivares, meeting sales manager, at dolivares@mononaterrace.com or 608-261-4018.