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How to break the ice during presentations and meetings


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.

Icebreakers for team meetings or training sessions

Here are some good icebreaker questions that would work particularly well for a team who already know each other:

  • If you could teach everyone in the world one skill, what would it be?
  • What three words describe you as a teenager?
  • What do you want to be remembered for?

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.

Breaking the ice before a presentation

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.

  • Try to make the icebreaker exercise relevant, not too random.
  • Don’t push people too far out of their comfort zone; the idea is to make them relax and have fun.
  • Think of an easy task that will allow people to open their minds and feel energised.
  • If you start with an icebreaker in pairs, stay in control and make sure you can get the room back.
  • Always allow an opt-out in case people are uncomfortable.

Once you have mastered the icebreaker, you won’t look back! Just remember to keep it simple and to stay in control.



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