The key to successful introductions in larger groups is not to plan for everyone to meet everyone else. It’s usually not practical, and sometimes it’s not even possible. Besides, the human brain can learn only so many new names at once! So set your sights on helping everyone meet a few new people, people with whom they can network for the day. If there are future meetings, the realm of people they know will grow each time and at a pace that they can handle. Here are some quick exercises you can do to break the ice.
This is...An icebreaker activity in which participants introduce each other so that others see what strengths they have.
Use it to...Introduce participants to each other in a positive, upbeat way that emphasizes each participant’s value to the group.
Best group size...Up to about 20.
1. Have participants pair up.
2. Allow 5 minutes for participants to interview each other and learn more about each other.
3. Each participant then introduces his or her partner to the group.
4. The introduction should “sell” the person on how great he or she is and on how he or she will significantly contribute to the meeting or the task at hand.
“This is Heidee. She’s been with the company for only a short time. She brings a different perspective, yes. But more importantly, she’s very good at helping people work together. She helps find bridges and commonalities among differing opinions, and she can do this without making anyone feel as if he or she ‘won’ or ‘lost.’ ”
Tips for success...Make sure participants understand that the goal is not just to introduce their partner. The goal is to champion him, to show the rest of the group what a great asset their partner is to the meeting, team, or work group.
Try these variations...
- Have participants work in teams of three. Two people introduce and champion the third one.
- If time is limited, or if you want to reinforce self-confidence, don’t have participants pair up. Rather, each participant introduces himself or herself. During their introduction, participants champion themselves, explaining what value they bring to the group.
- This activity can work for much larger groups by first dividing them into smaller teams.
DO YOU KNOW ME?
This is...An icebreaker activity in which participants ask questions of each other about one other person in the group.
Use it to...Help large groups mingle a bit and better get to know at least one other person in the group.
Best group size...Up to about 40.
Materials you'll need...Index cards with a different participant’s name on each one.
1. Distribute the cards to the participants, making sure no one gets his or her own name.
2. Have the group mingle while holding their cards out and asking, “Do you know me?”
3. When someone answers “yes,” the participant will ask a few questions about the name he or she has and can jot down notes on the card.
4. Then the two move on and gather more information.
5. After several minutes, have participants find the person whose name they have and introduce themselves briefly.
"Do you know me?”
"Great, so which region do I work in?”
“Okay, and how long have I worked for this company?”
“Oh, I’d say about 5 years, I think.”
Tips for success...This activity works best with large groups in which everyone knows only a few participants well.
Try these variations...
- For smaller groups: after step 4, have each participant introduce the person whose name he or she researched.
- This activity also works well when two groups that know themselves but not each other are coming together. In this case, make sure they all get each other’s names.
This is...An icebreaker activity in which participants put a logo on their name tag that they most identify with.
Use it to...Help large groups start to learn each other’s names and get to know each other better.
Best group size...Unlimited.
Materials you'll need...A name tag for each participant. A pen for each participant.
1. Have participants write their name on their name tag.
2. Next to their name, participants are to put a corporate logo that they identify with strongly.
3. Have the participants mingle, sharing with each other why they chose the logo they did.
“My name is Rosie, and this logo is the Nike swoosh. I chose it because I tend to be impulsive and ‘just do it’ when faced with a situation. I also like sports.”
"My name is Kiki, and this logo is from a bed and breakfast I stayed at in Portland, Maine. I identify with it because it just feels calm and even keeled, which is what everyone says I am: calm and even keeled.”
Tips for success...Allow the group to use logos that are famous or create their own. Beware that creating their own will take most participants much more time, though.
Try these variations...
- Rather than logos, have participants use a famous tag line or marketing slogan.
- Break the group into small teams of four to six members. Have the team choose a logo that best represents them. Alternatively, choose a logo that best represents the project or the whole work group they belong to.
Adapted with permission of the publisher from Quick Meeting Openers for Busy Managers by Brian Cole Miller. Copyright 2008, Brian Cole Miller. Published by AMACOM, a division of American Management Association. For information about other AMACOM books, visit http://www.amanet.org/books/