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Seven favourite ice breaking activities for working with tenants’ and community groups (15 Jun 07)

Get everybody to say something in the first few minutes and everything will flow so much better

Why do we have so called ‘icebreakers’? It is obviously to warm up a group, isn’t it?

When tenants and community groups come together, it is important to create a relaxed atmosphere. That way they are far more likely to exchange views and learn.

So how do you warm up the room rather than freeze people out?

Well, the first thing to remember is that many of these people will be strangers to each other – and we find it hard to open up in front of strangers. So the trick is to get people not just to know who is who, but for people to know something about each other

This is particularly important where there are new members to a group or there are people in it with very mixed experiences. If you establish some common awareness about each other, more than just their names and what they do, this will really contribute to fruitful working.

Most people find speaking at meetings daunting until they have got to know others and have discovered that their views and contributions are welcomed. So one important feature of an ice breaker is giving everyone a chance to hear their own voice in the room.

And you must bear in mind that the longer someone keeps silent, the harder it is for them to start speaking. But If they speak in the first few minutes they are much more likely to speak later in the day.

The first ice breaker should therefore be designed sensitively and carefully

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