Small Group Ice Breakers
by Carl Caton
Whenever a group of people gather in a room, especially when people don't know one another well, there can be a subtle nervous tension that people feel. Sometimes folks are a little anxious, not knowing what to expect or if they will be called upon to speak. The icebreaker is what helps everyone settle down to get focused on the topic at hand.
A good icebreaker is something that is light hearted and... breaks the ice. Usually it allows some laughter to erupt in the room. Sometimes, it serves to help us learn something simple about one another. Itís the balm that soothes the soul and gets everyone going.
One thing I've noticed about people in this setting is that we take cues off of one another. Let's say you ask everyone in the group to introduce themselves. That's usually a poor way to get things started. The first poor soul leads off and says a few things about himself, his family, and his vocation. As people follow, they usually follow the pattern set by the first. And so it goes around the room. Occasionally, a brave soul breaks the pattern and disrupts the unspoken "rules" about what we're supposed to share. This usually brings laughter as everyone was thinking the same thought: "why can't we talk about something more interesting!" That, in itself, was an icebreaker of sorts. Whenever that formula of introductions is used, I always thought it would be fair to give the first person a "do-over." After all, everyone else had the opportunity to improve on the pitiful question.
A good icebreaker is something that has a hint of humor, allows people to reveal just a little about themselves, and brings everyone to a common starting place where the rest of the study will move forward.