When people find out that I’m a presentation skills trainer and public speaking coach, they often ask how they can break the ice in presentations or meetings. As it’s such a common question, I thought it was time to write a blog on the topic.
Icebreakers are a brilliant way to encourage your team to work productively together and to get your meetings off to a good start. And in a presentation setting, icebreakers can pave the way for a receptive audience. If the icebreaker is done well, the audience will be engaged and relaxed with you as a speaker which is a great starting point for any public speaking.
Here are some good icebreaker questions that would work particularly well for a team who already know each other:
Any questions that will get the team sharing, listening and learning about each other is a good thing (but see also my top tips below).
I like to do the following icebreaker on my Management Training Courses or Insights Discovery Courses. I ask delegates to line up from left to right in order of how much personal development they have done. It always gets them talking, sharing and working together on a task. It’s also useful for me to see who has done more and less personal development.
It’s worth thinking about each individual’s colour energy when planning an icebreaker because one person’s fun might be another person’s nightmare! Someone with a strong Earth Green preference recently told me how uncomfortable she felt being asked to share a key life moment in front of a new team – she felt it was too personal. Interestingly, as a caring and people-focused Earth Green she had already heard most of her colleague’s key life moments, but felt more comfortable with it being in an informal one-to-one setting.
I wrote the following tips with breaking the ice before a presentation in mind, but they really apply to team meetings and training sessions too.
Once you have mastered the icebreaker, you won’t look back! Just remember to keep it simple and to stay in control.
Think about the speakers you admire, and you’ll notice that they share a common trait: they have all mastered how to use effective pauses. The humble pause is often overlooked, but it really shouldn’t be …
The presentation is your chance to shine. You are away from the constraints of just answering questions.
“What’s your X-Factor?”
Treat it as your opportunity to show others what makes you unique.
Recently we ran an event for the 40 members of the global sales team of a multi-national, working with them to ‘Tame their Public Speaking Monkeys’ and help them increase their confidence when presenting.