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All groups, especially very large groups, perform better when the participants know something about each other. Even though time constraints prohibit traditional, self-spoken icebreakers for large groups (eg, 60 people for two minutes each burns two hours), some time for social bonding remains effective.

Two Quick and Effective Icebreakers for Large Groups

Getting to Know One Another, Icebreakers for Large Groups

Consider the following simple, easy, icebreakers for large groups, even hundreds of people, to instill a broader sense of group consciousness and networking. The simple rule requires participants to stand when they can answer ‘affirmative’ to one of your pre-determined questions. For example, “Stand up if you had to fly to get here.”

Other questions that capture but a small sliver of potential questions you might ask include:

  • Stand up if you have worked for this organization for five years.
    • Keep standing if ten years, twenty, etc.
  • Stand up if you have one pet.
    • Keep standing if you have two pets, three pets, etc.
  • Stand up if you were born in another country (or state, or city)?
  • Stand up if you lived in another country for more than one year?
    • Keep standing if five years, ten, etc.
  • Stand up if you love music? Country? Jazz? Classical? Rap?
  • Stand up if you have a tattoo
    • Keep standing if you have two, three, five, etc.
  • Stand up if you have ever broken a bone.
  • Stand up if your favorite James Bond actor is Sean Connery.
    • Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig . . .
  • Stand up if you drive a Volvo.
    • BMW, Ford, Mercedes, etc.

Optional Icebreakers for Large Groups

Also consider bifurcating your group to create some healthy tension. The “Would You Rather?” approach generates high energy, even among people that presumably know each other quite well. This approach can also be used with smaller groups. For example,

  • Would you rather be able to be invisible, or
    • Able to read others’ minds?
  • Would you rather live without music, or
    • Live without television?
  • Would you rather be four feet tall, or
    • Eight feet tall?
  • Would you rather have a Texan accent and live in New York City, or
    • Have a New York accent and live in Texas?
  • Would you rather marry your first boyfriend/ girlfriend, or
    • Someone your parents choose for you?
  • Would you rather be granted the answer to any three questions, or
    • Be granted the ability to resurrect one person?
  • Would you rather always show up 20 minutes late for everything, or
    • Always show up 90 minutes early for everything?
  • Would you rather work for your oldest sibling, or
    • Your best friend?
  • Live in a home without electricity, or
    • Running water?

Have some fun and create your own. These work with large groups because the directions are short and simple, as long as everyone can hear the question for standing up. In our experience, everyone will quickly quiet down and pay attention so they know when they are supposed to stand. You can also interject some of your personality or a preview of the days’ events based on your questions. Write back to us about your experience and suggestions when using icebreakers with large groups.

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Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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