One of the challenges we all may have is to break the ice when we enter a new group or when we are new to a public place. It does not matter if it’s a public speaking or a group of new friends. We have to eliminate that tense situation and break the ice.
In my travels, I figured I have some useless tickets after I travel to other cities. I thought what I could do with them? Have a collection of useless tickets? Definitely, not throwing them out. I came up with an idea. I thought what better than writing a lesson on them about my speech in that city?
In one of my trips to another city, I learned something new, and I wrote it on the ticket paper immediately:
Ask local people of that city (or country) to teach you some of the words of their language or some parts of their culture to break the ice much easier.
What does it mean to break the ice?
If you have any experience in teaching, you’d know that in first sessions of class the atmosphere is intense. As:
– a public speaker
– a couch
– a teacher
– a host in a TV show
You have a specific duty to ease this tension. One of the essential factors to break the ice is to make an intimate, atmospheric, friendly and polite atmosphere.
Since many of the participants are adults and they have a lot of things on their mind, we have to make a situation where they:
– get rid of their routine thoughts
– feel better about their presence in this session
– feel calm and less intentions
This is how we can distinguish a professional speaker from an amateur!
Amateurs start presenting the moment they enter the hall and professionals ease the tension and break the ice.
This article may help you: "how to stop being shy and quiet?"
Why do we have to break the ice?
One question that comes in mind is why we have to ease the tension? Does the class turn into a circus when we break the ice? This way everyone makes jokes and says something funny, is it OK?
These questions are exactly like this one: why do we have to bring our ax and sharpen it to chop the woods?
We break the ice to bring back the audience’s thoughts and attention to the salon. If we don’t break the ice, the students may never be at their full attention.
Read "What is shyness? how can I overcome shyness?". It may help you to break the ice.
Methods of breaking the ice
First thing you should know is that there are no specific ways to do so. We discuss some of the commonest methods now, but it all depends on:
– what personality you have?
– what type of audience you have?
– how are the environment and the atmosphere of your class?
1- Tell a story
One of the simplest ways to break the ice is to tell a story. For example, the discussion you had with the taxi driver till you get here can be a story or behavior you saw when you came out of the house this morning or a funny event that happened when you were in your plane.
The story has to be:
– Funny (or at least make your audience smile)
– Make the students feel great
– Well-told. (read tell a story)
If you are experienced enough to make polite, funny and organized jokes, I congratulate you because now you are a professional teacher who can use suitable jokes to ease the tension of a class.
Also, you have to consider the situation. Sense of humor can be useful in one session and can be catastrophic in another one.
3- Breaking the ice in other cities and countries
You can ask the local people to teach you a word of their language or one of their cultures. It can help you to ease the tension faster.
Before doing so, you have to consider these points:
– Try not to use this technique in official meetings.
– Don’t give them the impression to think you are mocking their local accent or culture.
– Do not offend their culture, believes, etc.
– Try to ask one of the eldest if it’s OK to ask these kinds of questions or will it upset the audience?
Now it’s your turn to suggest some ways about how to break the ice in a new group?