Business Meeting Icebreakers

Here are some free business meeting icebreakers
you can use to kick things off right.

Business Meeting Icebreaker #1
Interview Introductions

Equipment: Flip chart and markers.

Time: 20 – 30 minutes (maybe longer depending on size of group).

Outcomes: Introduces participants to one another and begins to establish bonds between group members.

Icebreaker Set-up: This activity is a good business meeting icebreaker when group members don’t know each other at all, or not very well. You can also use it for groups which are familiar with each other, but haven’t yet bonded.

Facilitation: The group leader (facilitator) has everyone choose a partner. If there is an odd number of participants the facilitator takes a partner as well. Explain that each person is to interview and introduce their partner. List several questions on a flip chart they can use to interview each other. Star questions which must be included in the introduction.

Rules:
1. Each person has 5 minutes to interview their partner.
2. You must ask your partner the questions with stars and report that information to the rest
of the group during introductions.
3. Keep the introductions to 1 – 2 minutes.

Facilitator note: There are endless questions you can write on a flip chart to have the participants ask each other. It is a good idea to keep it to 8 – 10 as some participants will feel like they have to get information on each question. What you are after is for participants to bond with each other, rather than just share a bunch of information. You keep time and call out "30 seconds left!" about 5 minutes into the interviewing stage. Call, "change" at the 5 minute mark and again give the teams a "30 seconds to finish!" heads up at the end of the interviewing cycle. Ask for volunteers to start the introductions and keep going until everyone is introduced.

Here are some good business meeting icebreaker questions (Write these on a flip chart and star the questions which are mandatory to share in the introductions):
1. Your full name and nickname growing up.
2. What is your position title and what do you really do?
3. How long have you been with the company?
4. What are you looking forward to the most with this team, conference, training, etc.?
5. What is your favorite hobby?
6. What would be a dream vacation for you?
7. If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
8. Do you know any good (clean) jokes?
9. What is one thing nobody in this room knows about you?

Business Meeting Icebreaker #2
Ball Toss
(Establishes Group Norms)

Equipment: 1 Koosh ball (or similar item), flip chart and marker.

Time: 10 minutes.

Outcomes: Gets participants to establish group norms.

Icebreaker Set-up: It is always a good idea to establish group norms before launching into a project. Each member needs to understand what behavior is expected and what behavior is considered disruptive. By having each member contribute one norm the entire group will have an agreed upon foundation and disruptions will largely be eliminated.

Facilitation: The group leader (facilitator) explains the concept of establishing group norms and why they are important to business meetings (respects others, increases productivity, reduces annoying disruptions). Each member has the opportunity to contribute one norm they consider important. If a member does not want to contribute any norms, they are free to pass.

Rules:
1. The ball must go to everyone in the room.
2. When you have the ball it is your turn to state a norm you want the group to abide by.
3. You may pass when the ball is thrown to you if you have no norms to contribute.

Facilitator note: Start the group off by stating a norm first. After you have stated your norm and written it on the flip chart, toss the ball to someone in the group. (A few good norms that sometimes don’t get caught by group members, but are important to productivity are):
1. Turn cell phones off during meeting times.
2. We will begin and end all meetings on time.

As each norm is shared write it on the flip chart. Have someone compile all the group norms and pass the list out to each member. As a facilitator you can remind a person or the group of the norm if someone (or the group) is not abiding by the expectation.

Business Meeting Icebreaker #3
Change Challenge

Equipment: No materials needed.

Time: 20 – 40 minutes (depending on depth of debrief)

Outcomes:
1. Change: Dealing with barriers and resistance to change.
2. Support: Identifying the need to sustain changes through support.

Icebreaker Set-up: Tell participants that you would like to try an experiment with making changes. Ask them if they will agree to live with the changes that will be made until the experiment is over. Let them know this experiment takes about 30 minutes and they won’t have to make any changes they feel uncomfortable with. Make sure the participants agree that they will maintain whatever changes are made until the exercise is over.

Rules:
1. Everyone choose a partner and stand facing each other. They must get out of their seats.
2. Study your partner because they will be making some changes.
3. Turn your back to your partner and make 5 changes to your physical appearance (switch watch from one wrist to another, untie shoelace, remove glasses, etc.)
4. Give participants 30 seconds to complete the changes.
5. Face your partner and identify as many changes as possible. (Give about 30 seconds)
6. Repeat 5 changes twice more, each time giving participants 30 seconds.
7. Finally, ask participants to make 10 changes in 20 seconds. (You will likely get some resistance at this point). When you start to get verbal resistance call "Stop" and then begin your debrief.

Debrief:
Q. How did you feel when you were being told to make so many changes?
Q. Why are people resistant to making changes?
Q. What can you do to make it easier on those you work with to accept necessary change?
Note: Begin your debrief with the preceding questions. At some point during the debrief participants will begin to "undo" the changes they have made to their physical appearance. At this point ask the following questions:
Q. What was the agreement we made when we started this experiment?
(Keep pressing until someone states "we agreed to live with the changes that we made until the experiment was over")
Q. Why is it difficult to maintain changes once they are made?
Q. What kind of support is necessary to maintain change?
Q. What changes are you facing, or have you recently made that need to be better supported?

Facilitator note: The Change Challenge is an initiative which pushes participants past their comfort zone regarding change. Challenge surrounding change is the central piece of this initiative. This is a good business meeting icebreaker because it prepares participants to work with the barriers to change in an experiential way. (Note: Team Building USA uses this initiative in the Change Management Training Program).

Do you have a conference coming up?

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Note: These business meeting icebreakers are fairly common in the training industry and I don’t know where they first originated. If you know who they should be credited to, I would appreciate the information so I can cite the appropriate sources. Thank you.