Successful meeting icebreakers are fun, increase energy and focus, and connect to the objective of the meeting. I find visual icebreakers to be easy, effective and engaging. Plus, they often work well for extraverts and introverts alike. Here are three that I’ve used many times in the past with good success:
1. Draw How to Make Toast
Materials: Sharpie and a piece of paper
Instructions: Draw how to make toast
Time required: 5 minutes to draw, 10 for discussion
I picked this one up from working with Tom Wujec awhile back and like using it in meetings where we are focused on topics related to systems thinking, change management, stakeholder engagement, and team development. Why? Because the simple exercise unveils that each of us carries around different mental models about how processes and systems work. After everyone draws their diagrams (and they are usually diagrams of some sort), lay the pieces of paper next to one another. When the group sees the wide variety of images you can have a productive discussion (after some laughter) about challenges of seeing the world in different ways when we’re seeking to change systems or behaviors.
2. What’s on Your Bucket List?
Materials: Sharpie and an index card
Instructions: Draw something that you dream of doing one way
Time required: 5 minutes to draw, 1 minute per person to report out
This icebreaker works especially well for meetings about visioning, future planning and team development because it gets people thinking about the future and taps into their hopes for that future. When people are done drawing, go around the room and ask each person to share their picture. I like to take a “group shot” of all of the index cards at the end of the meeting and include it in the meeting report.
3. Your Coat of Arms
Materials: Markers and flipchart paper
Instructions: Give everyone a piece of flipchart paper with the outline of a coat of arms and ask them to fill in each quadrant by drawing a picture to represent their proudest achievement, a dream they have for the future, and a core value. Then ask them to write their personal motto in the final quadrant. Go around the room and ask each person to present their coat of arms.
Time required: 20 minutes for drawing, 3 minutes per person to report out
I learned this from Trevor Durnford at Lorensbergs (the consulting firm I worked at in Sweden) many years ago and use it in sessions where the objective is for the team to get to know one another better. The topics of the quadrants can be changed to fit the group, but I always include the core value one because it’s the “juiciest” in terms of what people share.