Ice Breakers: Communication Illusions or Fast-Trackers?

Speakers often start group sessions with “ice breakers” that get participants talking to each other about personal topics they would otherwise not discuss with a stranger.

Facilitators kick off meetings by asking attendees for self-introductions which include personal tidbits.

Sales people search for common ground as a focus for a friendly chat before getting down to business.

In all cases, the goal is to “break the ice” and quickly earn trust to expedite effective communication.

Whether you are intent on bringing strangers together quickly to form a common-purpose group, on learning exactly what colleagues care about, or on closing a sale with a new client, how you “break the ice” can determine whether you end up with genuine reactions or later-reversed acceptance that leaves you feeling blind-sided.

Problems can arise when you latch on to an icebreaker that you feel comfortable using, but that does not have relevance for your target group. With so much changing, if you’re using ice breakers that are older than your favorite device, you’re probably not getting genuine buy-in.

Take a close look at what you do and say or email to earn trust on in group situations or when expecting to take a prospect to client status in one meeting:

  • What is the point of your ice breaker? What strong statements are you making about how you work and what you sell?
  • How relevant is the context of your trust-earning story or exercise, and how does it relate to the project at hand?
  • How do you measure the effectiveness of your ice breaker? What follow-up do you use to continue the acceleration of trust earning?

Which ice breakers consistently hit the mark for you?

Did you create them yourself or adapt them from one that warmed you up?

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