My two favourite ice breakers (and a wrap up)
Read the energy of the room
Now that we are all remote it can be even more challenging to read the energy of the room. I use this quick ice breaker as a way to check in with everyone and help us each check in with ourselves for the meeting or workshop ahead.
You can come up with your own extremes on the matrix. I’ll set a timer for just one minute and let folks drag a dot to their corresponding feeling. Once complete, we can address briefly the energy level in the room. I take the learnings from this matrix to help me adjust and inform how to move forward with the meeting.
Tip: Turn the cursors off if you want it to feel more anonymous. If possible, it’s great to take some time to discuss the communal energy level, either in breakout rooms or as a group.
Align on goals for the meeting
This is a simple but powerful activity to align on individual goals for the meeting. It’s one question with one answer — you can change the question to be anything that you would like to align on for the meeting. I find this particularly helpful for cross-functional meetings or workshops, as often participants can come in with slightly different intentions and this ice breaker provides a quick level-set before we jump into the topic at hand.
Tip: It’s great to read some of them out loud, just to address the different goals in the room. If someone adds a goad that you won’t be addressing in the meeting, you can clarify this, or “parking lot” the idea to discuss at a later time.
Recap before moving on to the next thing
This isn’t really an ice breaker! But I like to take a moment at the end of meetings to wrap up with a simple question. It can be about an experience or about the meeting in general. The point is for each person to add at least one sticky to the columns: “I like”, “I wish”, “I learned”.
You can have them answer all at once or set a timer for 1 minute for each section. It’s a good way to gather feedback and for folks to internalize what they’ve learned before everyone moves on to their next thing.
Tip: I always run out of time at the end of meetings, but a retro — even a mini one — is so important! Really try to set aside a minimum of 5 minutes for this activity.