Have you ever heard of speed dating? It's an opportunity for people to quickly meet a large number of people to potentially date. Attendees are paired with each person attending the session for two minutes. At the end of the two minutes, the people move to their next partner. You can also use this concept as an effective speed meeting icebreaker.
The goal? Attendees meet a large number of people in a short period of time, The goal, of course, in speed dating, is to find one or more people with whom you'd like to spend more time on an actual date. Participants exchange names and contact information during the two minutes so that they can connect with the people who appealed to them following the speed dating session.
It's an efficient way for people who are interested in finding a special someone to meet a large number of people quickly in a safe environment. Presumably, other attendees share similar goals and expectations when they decide to participate in speed dating activities.
The Speed Meeting Ice Breaker
This speed meeting icebreaker provides a similar experience for participants at a training meeting or a team-building session. You might even want to think about the activity as corporate speed dating, a chance for participants to meet each other quickly, and perhaps, find potential close colleagues.
Looking for an icebreaker that will quickly allow your training session participants to meet fellow participants? Need an icebreaker that will warm up the group with action and movement? You’ve found the right icebreaker. This speed meeting icebreaker will accomplish both of these objectives.
Plus, the speed meeting icebreaker enables your participants to succeed. Even your shyest or most uncomfortable participant can manage to talk with another person for two minutes. If nothing else they can exchange contact information and tell their partner what they do for a living and what they enjoy.
The icebreaker is also not intimidating because the attendees—and they worry about this and ask if they will have to touch another attendee—are not put off by a quick handshake when they meet their next speed dating companion.
Steps to Using the Speed Meeting Icebreaker With Strangers
When your participants don’t know each other, ask them to number off by one and two; half of your participants become ones and the second half become twos.
Ask all of the people who are ones to introduce themselves to the person sitting directly across the table who is numbered a two. They then have two minutes to learn about their team building partner. In a hotel conference room, you may have had the opportunity to set up pairs of chairs away from the training tables. It gives people who are speed meeting a bit of privacy.
Sitting at tables all over the room (or just in two chairs) is preferred, so the murmur of the conversations does not interfere with the participants' ability to hear. Sometimes, however, your room setup won't allow this. In that case, you then ask participants numbered one to introduce themselves to a two sitting kitty-corner from them, and so on until all of the ones and twos have had a chance to meet.
If you have the luxury of chairs scattered around the room, you'll want to ask the people who were numbered one to sit at the table or in a chair. The number twos then move to the next partner every two minutes.
You will want to use a timer and a bell, buzzer, or some kind of sound to notify participants when the two minutes is up, so they don't have to time keep on top of participating in introductions.
Participants should move from person to person until they have met half of the people in the room. If you want them to meet everyone, switch the position of your ones and twos for the next round of two-minute introductions.
Topics for Speed Meeting Icebreakers
You might want to suggest topics that are appropriate for the two minutes they are allowed to spend with each person. These topics work well for speed meeting. Participants can tell their partner:
- Their name
- Their contact information
- What they do for a living
- Why they attended the training session
Keep your suggested topics simple as two minutes is not a lot of time for both people to respond. Write your suggested topics on a notecard or whiteboard, or project them on a wall. You don’t want participants spending their two minutes trying to remember what you suggested they discuss or trying to look at a laptop screen or smartphone screen to remember.
Icebreaker Changes for Participants Who Know Each Other
This speed meeting icebreaker can work well for groups of coworkers, friends, or club members. The main variation is in the content of the questions you suggest they answer. For people who know each other, these kinds of questions work.
- Share one thing about yourself that you think your coworker doesn’t know.
- Tell your partner your favorite television show and why.
- Share your five favorite foods. (This is the era of bacon; don’t ask for an explanation.)
- Share your favorite travel destination.
Note that these are examples and you can work creatively to come up with your own variations of these questions. The one question to shy away from asking is what they hope to attain from attending the session. When participants know each other these responses are best heard by all participants including the facilitator.
The speed meeting icebreaker is a quick and easy icebreaker that requires no preparation on your part yet gets people involved with each other and moving around the room. The speed meeting icebreaker usually generates a lot of laughter and fun. It's physical in the sense that people keep moving and the actual movement is a source of laughter, too. Why not try the corporate speed meeting icebreaker with a group you facilitate?