If the participant introduction is dominated by a few people and quiet
ones are not asked for their opinion, the group will eventually use that
pattern of communication.
The leader needs to plan what they would like the norms to be and use
techniques to make them obvious to the group. Once the group has set
in its ways, you will have useful contributions, sensitive language, and
good patterns of communication.
Icebreakers need not be cheesy
Everyone has probably experienced a sinking feeling on being asked to
do an icebreaker. If you felt it was silly or inappropriate, then it wasn’t
chosen well. You don’t even have to say it’s an icebreaker, just
“I’d like to start by asking everybody to say ...... so we can get to
know each other.....”
Giving a reason for why you are doing it is a general principle. Think
about what signals you want to send.
- how formal or informal the session will be
- Whether you need to even out the balance of power in the
- If you are going to ask them to be creative, empathic, or reveal
personal information about themselves.
- How long the session will be
- How many people you will have? Larger groups can use the chat
function, or even a poll, while smaller groups can be on video,
audio, or even share a whiteboard,