Are we color balanced? I believe so. I’m super psyched to be with you today to answer “What is a good icebreaker activity?” In fact, you came for one but I’m gonna give you 3. I’ve got 100+ icebreakers in my brain from my background teaching leadership and team development at Penn State University and so I’m going to show you 3 of my favorites that are really quick, low-hanging fruit that you can take and immediately apply the second this video is done.

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I will say be forewarned that I prefer the term “connection before content” over “icebreaker.” I think it’s a much more intentional phrase. I think it gives less people hives in the world and so just warning that the 3 activities I’m gonna share have the potential to create meaningful activity rather than frivolous activity, just for activities sake because any resistance that shows up to icebreakers typically happens because there’s not some purpose or intention behind it or it’s just not fun.


First one, I don’t remember where I got this but I love this concept. So, for my professional job now, I get to work with leaders and educators all over to help them make connection and engagement easy and one of the things when we’re connecting in between our task focused things, one of the things I hear often is people’s… the impact of the news on people. Like just pretty much collectively, people complain about the negativity of the news and the impact that that has. That kind of spurred this thought and I don’t know where I came across it but what if we created our own news in the form of an activity, So, there are some sites that have popped up and some resources that are like, “share positive news,” and there are local news stations and there are national news stations but for this icebreaker,
we’re going to call it “Hyper Local News Headline.”

The idea is, whether you’re virtual or in person, is to give people some space and time to think about their last day, their last week, their
last month and boil that week, month ,day down into a single hyper local news headline. So, for me today, it was… my headline might have been “trying to leave the house to film when attacked by 1 year old,” right? So, that idea… there’s so much depth that you could unpack and so you can see how a headline is just a little doorway into a deeper story where I could tell you about Otto and the way that I went to say goodbye and he grabbed a book and immediately ran over and jumped into my lap and there’s just no way I could possibly leave. So, you see that headline opens up this window into some meaningful depth, but it’s also really accessible, because one of the
characteristics for me of a really good icebreakers must be, not should be, must be non-threatening. If your icebreaker is like, “Whoa that’s a lot,” then it’s not breaking ice, it’s creating it. A non-threatening kind of scaffolded way to invite people into meaningful connection, just share a headline. Just share a little snippet and then if you want, that could be done in 2 minutes, and it could be done in the chat even in 30 seconds, and then if you want to turn that into a deeper breakout conversations or get into troubles and share etc. and unpack. You’ve got the headline, now give the story. Now become the reporter of the journalist and share what’s behind that headline. It’s a really easy entryway, extremely easy to facilitate, everybody knows what news is and a headline and so it’s using something familiar and turning it into something personal and meaningful.

Team Tally

2nd one, “Team Tally.” Bad, Chad. I don’t remember where I got this one either, but it wasn’t totally my idea or brilliance. The idea is though, that you turn getting to know each other, you gamify getting to know each other a little bit. Team Tally, and we can pop out actually
have an 8 and a half by 11 print out that you can print out for free or just use the digital download and share the link. In that Team Tally, there are a bunch of different prompts that allow a small group to get a high score, then the way that they get a high score is, and let’s
just pull this up real quick and read off a few. So, 1 point for each person living in your homes, 1 point for each pet in your household, 1 point for each team member who can name an activity or a sport he or she has tried in the last year. 1 point for each person who has ever created a video game, I’m gonna be surprised if any points are earning that. I don’t know maybe people create video games. So, there’s a whole bunch of things, some are really easy, low-hanging fruit that creates some connection, some are deeper. That can be a gamified exercise. Give a group 5 minutes or 10 minutes to just get as many points as they can, bring people back from breakouts, either in person or virtually, and then have them report out their score, right. That’s the gamified part. Human beings have a tendency to want to win and compete and so, turning that competition or blending competition with connection can be good. However, because our desire to compete is so strong, it tends to put us in a really task focused mindset. Your team will come back and they’ll be all amped up about the score, maybe, that they got, but they won’t have actually really deeply connected with anybody. They might have just kind of highlighted a bunch of potential connections to explore later, but then if you really want to take this from just like icebreaker game or activity to connection before content, I would invite you to send people back into those groups and invite people to ask their curiosity.

From the little highlights that came out in that 1st round, what showed up for people that they were really curious about that they wanted to know a little bit more about? This is a perfect way to personalize an icebreaker, curiosity. This ingredient is so great to guide people
into icebreakers that they want to be in rather than ones that you’ve pushed them into.

2 Truths and a Lie

The 3rd activity that I want to unpack is so brilliant and it’s a subtle twist on something that’s going to sound familiar to you. But I had a mentor once that used to say that the “wisdom is in the nuance of things,” and I think that’s true. A lot of very brilliant things that I’ve uncovered in my life have been super subtle shifts that are like 1 degree and it totally changes the trajectory of a relationship or a conversation over the long haul. This is one and this was my co-founder, Will Wise, his wife, Heather Wise, he shared the exercise 2 truths and a lie which somebody had suggested, you know, we had done, it’s been around for ages where you share 2 truths and 1 lie and people have to guess the lie and that’s fine. It’s not a terrible activity and you are inviting people to lie which means that you’re inviting people to share 2 things about themselves but not the other thing. I guess they are sharing that they didn’t do this, but Heather and Will were playing with that a little bit and they said, “What if we just changed that a little bit and made it 2 truths and a dream?” Ooh, that’s kind of funky. Ever since then, Will and I have been leading that exercise with groups. This is one that definitely works better in small groups. You don’t want to do this in a group of over 12 people all together, anyway you can break people out into smaller bunches.

You know, brainstorming 101, give people time to think alone first and then share together second. And so, you might want to give people some moments to kind of think about what those 2 truths and a dream are. There is 1 caveat with this, that when you share 2 truths and a dream, you have to make sure you change the tents. So, let’s see if I can just do this live in the moment, off the cuff. I wore a yellow tuxedo to prom. I got engaged underwater and I used to work as a scuba diving instructor. The truth is I did wear yellow tuxedo to prom. It was ridiculous, the truth is I did get engaged underwater, I proposed. I printed out a vinyl sign and held it up that said, “Kate, you are my best friend. Will you marry me?” And I rolled it out while on a scuba diving trip in Mexico and holy smokes, if I ever decide to stop being a professional speaker and facilitator, I am going to move to the Bahamas and become a scuba diving instructor. But that did not happen in my past. So, you can see how that idea is also useful because if this is an intact team that you work with or a group that’s going to
be together, you’ve also now shared a dream that people have. When you know people’s dreams, it creates a connection point to tune into.

So, somebody shares a dream that they have that is, you know, within reason or they could accomplish within a year or 2 years, as a boss or as a colleague or as a teacher, as an educator, you can be asking that person, checking with them like, “Hey, have you done anything toward moving toward that dream?” it can create a little bit more connection ongoing beyond just the icebreaker activity. These were 3 exercises, I have 4, 5, 6, 7 and a hundred more packed into this toolkit. So,

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