I don’t like ice breakers.
From the first workshop I remember attending to the workshops I attend now, I don’t like ice breakers.
I don’t even like including ice breakers in my own workshops. When you’re done developing your workshops and you’re all excited, nothing let’s you down quicker than remembering you forgot to include an ice breaker.
“Tell us one interesting fact about yourself”. “Choose an adjective that describes you using the initial of your first name”. “Two truths and a lie”. Announce that you’re about to start an ice breaker activity, and be prepared for the deep sighs and low groans.
(And everyone knows your two truths are lies too.)
I thought it was because I’m an introvert. There’s nothing more anxiety-provoking than sitting in a circle and waiting for your turn. Your heart begins to beat faster at the thought of speaking in front of strangers, hoping that your voice doesn’t crack or that you stutter. For me, I don’t like being the center of attention (which is kinds odd as a workshop facilitator, but anyway). But it’s not an introvert thing. Even the extroverted of the extroverts I know don’t care for ice breakers.
One of the reasons we hate ice breakers is because they feel forced. Participants come to your workshops already with the mindset that they’ll be interacting with each other in some capacity. The difference between an exercise within a workshop versus an ice breaker is that the interactions within an exercise can be more natural and allows participants to talk to one another without the icky discomfort that comes with ice breakers.
Whether you like ice breakers or not, they’re here to stay. Here are some tips on creating ice breakers that make sense and are enjoyable (at least as much as an ice breaker can be enjoyable):