In theory, holding a meeting with your team members and management at your organization is a great way to discuss pertinent issues and move the dial on important projects. In practice, though, meetings can be a waste of time, with trivial issues and general discussion taking center stage instead of the vital matters at hand.
While there’s a time and place for small talk, it should be done in a structured way. To really get down to business, you have to know how to break the ice and move the focus to the things that really matter.
Here are five icebreakers you can use to ensure that you and your team gets the most out of your next meeting.
1 – Tennis Ball
The sad reality of meeting is that very few people benefit from them. And the main reason for that is that many people simply don’t want to speak up during meetings. So, bring a tennis ball to your next meeting and throw it to one of your colleagues at the table. Whoever receives the tennis ball must contribute an idea or update. Depending on the type of meeting, you can even use this exercise to serve as means for introductions. Keep the conversation moving: once a co-worker shares an update they need to throw the tennis ball to someone else, who must also make a positive addition to the meeting.
2 – The Name Game
Another reason why meetings can go down the tubes is because some workers hesitate to speak up due to unfamiliarity. This makes everyone a little more reserved, a little less likely to open up to each other, and that ultimately results in an unproductive meeting that solves nothing. Instead of simply asking everyone to introduce themselves, people should say their name and state the names of the people introduced before them. This will not only encourage people to pay more attention to the introductions, but it will get everyone used to using each other’s names, which can help to facilitate a more lively discussion.
3 – Share Your First Job
That’s why a quick discussion of everyone’s first job is always a hit at a meeting. Whether it’s an introduction to a group of strangers or a way to begin a meeting with your colleagues, going around the room and talking about your job is a great way to encourage people to let their guards down and laugh a little. This exercise gives people an “in” with each other, especially if the attendees hadn’t met before the meeting. The added plus of using this tool – there may be some skills learned during your formative years of employment that can be very relevant to your organization and the current set of issues you face.
4 – Fact vs. Fiction
How well do you really know your co-workers? This game will put your knowledge to the test while simultaneously lightening up the moon and getting the group’s creative juices flowing. Each person partners up with the person next to them and tells that person two facts about themselves, as well as one lie. The other person has to introduce the first person to the group, state all three facts, and the group gets to decide which item they thought was the lie. This tool is best used among people that know each other, especially when the purpose of the meeting is to come up with a solution that requires creativity.
5 – Telephone
The game of telephone was always fun as a kid, and it’s just as much fun as an adult. Start the meeting by whispering a sentence to the person next to you, and ask that person to pass it down. When the last person is told the sentence, ask him or her to say it out loud. Then, state the original sentence and compare the differences between the original sentence and the final one. This is a good way to get people talking, improving communication amongst your team. Communication skills curate a productive workforce!
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