July 30, 2015 Leave a comment
All groups, especially very large groups, are known to perform better when the participants know something about each other. While time constraints prohibit traditional, self-spoken icebreakers with large groups (eg, 60 people for two minutes each burns two hours), some time for social bonding remains effective. Consider the following, simple, easy, and quick approach when working with very large groups, even hundreds of people, to instill a broader sense of group consciousness and networking.
The simple rule requires participants to stand when they can answer ‘affirmative’ to one of your pre-built questions. For example, “Stand up if you had to fly to get here.”
Other questions that capture but a small sliver of potential questions you might ask include:
- Stand up if you have worked for this organization for five years.
- Keep standing if ten years, twenty, etc.
- Stand up if you have one pet.
- Keep standing if you have two pets, three pets, etc.
- Stand up if you were born in another country (or state, or city)?
- Stand up if you lived in another country for more than one year?
- Keep standing if five years, ten, etc.
- Stand up if you love music? Country? Jazz? Classical? Rap?
- Stand up if you have a tattoo
- Keep standing if you have two, three, five, etc.
- Stand up if you have ever broken a bone.
- Stand up if your favorite James Bond actor is Sean Connery.
- Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig . . .
- Stand up if you drive a Volvo.
- BMW, Ford, Mercedes, etc.
Also consider bifurcating your group to create some healthy tension. The “Would You Rather?” approach generates high energy, even among people that presumably know each other quite well. This approach can also be used with smaller groups. For example,
- Would you rather beableto be invisible, or
- Able to read others’ minds?
- Would you rather live without music, or
- Live without television?
- Would you rather be four feet tall, or
- Eight feet tall?
- Would you rather have a Texan accent and live in New York City, or
- Have a New York accent and live in Texas?
- Would you rather marry your first boyfriend/ girlfriend, or
- Someone your parents choose for you?
- Would you rather be granted the answer to any three questions, or
- Be granted the ability to resurrect one person?
- Would you rather always show up 20 minutes late for everything, or
- Always show up 90 minutes early for everything?
- Would you rather work for your oldest sibling, or
- Your best friend?
- Live in a home without electricity, or
- Running water?
Have some fun and create your own. These work with large groups because the directions are short and simple, as long as everyone can hear the requirements to standing up. In our experience, everyone will quickly quiet down and pay attention so they know when they are supposed to stand. You can also interject some of your personality, or a preview of the days’ events based on your questions. Write back to us about your experience and suggestions when using icebreakers with large groups.
Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.
Become Part of the Solution—Improve Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills
The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).
Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and numerous tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.