Word association

This helps people explore the breadth of the area under discussion. 

Generate a list of words related to the topic of your event or training. 

You can use this opportunity to introduce essential terms and discuss the scope (what's in and what's out) of your training or event.

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Ice Breakers: Getting Everyone to Contribute at the Start of a Successful Event

mindtools.com

MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE

  • The Little Known Fact: ask participants to share their name, department or role in the organization, length of service, and one little known fact about themselves.
  • True or False: ask your participants to introduce themselves and make three or four statements about themselves, one of which is false. Now get the rest of the group to vote on which fact is false.
  • Interviews: ask participants to get into twos. Each person then interviews his or her partner for a set time while paired up. When the group reconvenes, each person introduces their interviewee to the rest of the group.
  • Problem Solvers: ask participants to work in small groups. Create a simple problem scenario for them to work on in a short time. Once the group has analyzed the problem and prepared their feedback, ask each group, in turn, to present their analysis and solutions to the wider group.

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Group people into twos or threes, and ask people to discuss their expectations for the event or work ahead, including their fears and their hopes. Gather the group's response by collating three to four hopes, fears, and expectations from each pairing or threesome.

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When designing your ice breaker, think about the "ice" that needs to be broken.

  • If you are bringing together like-minded people, the "ice" may simply reflect the fact that people have not yet met.
  • If you are bringing together people of different backgrounds, cultures, and outlooks for work within your community, then the "ice" may come from people's perceptions of each other.

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  • Make sure that the activity is specifically focused on meeting your objectives and appropriate to the group of people involved.
  • Clarify the specific objectives for your session.
  • Ask yourself questions about how you will meet your objectives
  • These questions can be used as a checklist once you have designed the session
  • As a further check, ask yourself how each person is likely to react to the session.

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The facilitator begins with a ball of yarn. Keeping one end, pass the ball to one of the participants, and the person to introduce himself and his role in the organization. 
Once this person has made their introduction, ask him to pass the ball of yarn on to another person in the group. The person handing over the ball must describe how he relates (or expects to relate) to the other person. The process continues until everyone is introduced.

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This gives each person the opportunity to ask key questions they hope to cover in the event or training.

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When to Use Icebreakers

Consider using an ice breaker when:

  • Participants come from different backgrounds.
  • People need to bond quickly so as to work towards a common goal.
  • Your team is newly formed.
  • The topics you are discussing are new or unfamiliar to many people involved.
  • As a facilitator, you need to get to know participants and have them know you better.

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Used to break the ice or as a re-energizer during an event.

If people are getting bogged down in the detail during problem-solving, for example, you can change pace easily by running a quick-fire brainstorming session. 

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The facilitator arranges the group in a circle and asks each person to throw the ball across the circle, first announcing her own name, and then announcing the name of the person to whom they are throwing the ball. Time the process, then ask the group to beat that timing. As the challenge progresses, the team will improve its process, for example by standing closer together. 

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RELATED IDEAS

Hackathon

A hackathon is an intensive, often software-centric, ideation, prototyping and presentation challenge on known or unknown problems or opportunities.

It is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, and others, often including subject-matter-experts, collaborate intensively on software projects”

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How to setup and run a successful hackathon

hackernoon.com

1. Define the Goals

Every workshop must have a clear goal.

Many workshops are a waste of time because there's no clear goal kept at the center of the discussion. Without this clear goal, there's really no point in getting people together.

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Planning a Workshop: Organizing and Running a Successful Event

mindtools.com

  • Attendees often multi-task and don't pay attention to the discussion.
  • Meeting organizers tend to be less careful with the purpose and design of the conversation.
  • Usually, one or two attendees to dominate the discussion while others sit back.

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What It Takes to Run a Great Virtual Meeting

hbr.org