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Seb Anthony

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icebreaker for global team


I have been asked to run a "icebreaker" activity at the beginning of a 2-day face-to-face team meeting. The meeting is a "rejuvenation" meeting so a lot of content is around team motivation. The audience is 90 people from all corners of the world and I have been given 15 minutes! They all speak English to a less or greater degree and a lot will not have ever met each other before or likely to again! I know loads of icebreakers but this task is making me think! Any ideas please?
Janice Burbridge

6 Responses

  1. Garner enthusiasm
    Hi Janice,

    I used this in a similar event but with about 300 people from all around the world a couple of years back and it worked really well.

    Prior to the start of the meeting seletape to the bottom of each delegates chair an A4 sheet with several nation flags on it (but no names identifying to which country they belong – all the flags should be those from which you have particpants present).

    Tell your participants that they have to ask other each other the words for “Thank you” and “Well Done” in the languages of the flags on their A4 sheet (about 4 to 6 flags will give them plenty to do in 15 minutes).

    Not only does this get people to know where each other is from, and start some conversations, but it creates a nice positive buzz with people constantly saying “Thank you” and “well done” to each other.

    You can of course chose other phrases, but keep them quite short.

    All the best,


  2. game idea
    How about using several simple jigsaws (the ones designed for young children with small numbers of pieces) maps of the countries represented at the day would be ideal. Split the delegates into mixed groups (by splitting those sitting together as much as possible) tell them it’s a competition – the first team to complete the jigsaw wins a prize.

    It’s fun, gets people communicating for a common goal straight away and I always find it heartening that a box of chockies as a prize inspires energy and action!

    Hope it goes well whatever you decide to do.

  3. A couple more ideas
    You can always get people up and mixing around using a greeting from their hometown/country. This can be from their national culture or from a subculture. Another idea is to get them to imagine the room as a world map and they have to go and stand in the country they have just flown from/are based in.

    Jo Bloxham

  4. Make people feel important
    I have done a number of these too and I believe you need to make each individual feel their contribution at the introduction stage is valued as I find people can easily be ‘turned off’ at this point if the icebreaker fails. Suggestion: ask each person 4 questions who they are, where they come from(perhaps country/organisation), why are they at the event and what is their personal claim to fame. Most people concentrate on the claim to fame and this is how people remember each other plus they are thinking so much about the claim to fame they actually answer the 3rd question honestly giving you the facilitator some solid information. Good Luck.

  5. Save yourself
    I think the training industry is obsessed with fun and games, or icebreakers. Rather than breaking the ice, they downgrade what could be a wonderful, thought provoking training day to a children’s creche. Too many times people have said that they find the “fun and games” in training juvenile and embarrasing. I think it will inspire enough adrenalin for everyone in the room to be brought together. What a wonderful thing for the company to do. Everyone will be delighted to be there, and pulses will be racing. Instead of party tricks, why don’t you feed their excitement further by creating a powerful opening that talks of the challenges ahead and gives a preview of the excellent day in store?


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