Creative genius Andy Eklund recently gave our Linhart Public Relations team a few strategies for generating, inspiring and sharing creative ideas. One of his tips was to begin meetings or brainstorms with an ice breaker to cause a separation between the work waiting at your desk and the creative session at hand, as well as to improve communication among participants. (To see his other tips, check out our blog on 10 Ideas for Better Brainstorms.)
With Andy’s advice in mind, here is a list of 10 ice breakers to spark creativity:
- Finding F’s. Put this sentence up on the screen in the room and ask participants to count the F’s in the sentence: FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS. Have everyone count them only once and then share with the group how many F’s each person saw. The correct answer is six, but most people will not see this many. One of average intelligence finds three of them. Four spotted indicates you’re above average. Five or six shows off the geniuses in the room. There is no catch. Most people forget the “OF”s. The human brain tends to see them as V’s instead of F’s. Have the participants talk through their answer. Focusing on this task will get creative juices revving to go.
- Everyone Sells. Pick an ordinary object like a pen or pencil or crayon. Have participants pair up and try to “sell” the object to their partner. Find out what tactics were successful and incorporate these ideas into “selling” your product in the brainstorm.
- Rank Your Card. Hand out playing cards to all participants and tell them not to look at their card. Have them hold the card facing outward on their forehead. Without saying what cards are on everyone’s foreheads, have the group organize themselves in order from ace to king. The group must treat the other persons in relationship to the value of the card on their head in order to figure out how to organize in the right order. For example, people with ace cards are treated poorly and people with king cards are treated as though they are royalty.
- Objects. Have each participant bring an object to the brainstorm and set all objects in the middle of the room. Each person then takes an object from the pile and find the owner of the item.
- Brain Teasers. Ask the group a few brain teasers and see who can come up with the right answer. Here is one of my favorites: ask the group to pay close attention to the story. Begin the story by saying, “You are driving a bus.” Then tell the group how many people start out on the bus. As you go through the story, tell the group that at each stop, a certain amount of people get on and off the bus. Make those numbers up as you go. People will think this is a math problem, so make the numbers somewhat complicated to keep track of and go slowly through your story. Once you have carried on for long enough, ask the group this: “Who is driving the bus.” Most of the people won’t even remember you told them they were the drivers.
- Do As I Say. Ask everyone to pay attention and to do what you TELL them to do. Then make a circle with the thumb and finger of your right hand, leaving the other fingers extended (the OK sign). SAY: “Place your right hand on your chin” and at the same time PUT the circle part of your right hand against your cheek. As soon as people respond, tell them to freeze and note where their hand is. Some people will respond to the visual cue and put their hand against their cheek.
- Puzzles. Get a few children’s puzzles and have the group put them together. Working as a team on a visual problem helps center minds in a visual rather than verbal space.
- Build a List. Divide the participants into teams, and ask the teams to list things that are square, things associated with a holiday, things that are red, things they can make out a coat hanger, etc. Give the teams a few minutes to shoot off ideas and then have them share lists.
- Ball Toss. Bring a ball into the brainstorm room and announce a topic. Ask participants to toss the ball to one another and say one word they associate with the topic when the ball is tossed to them.
- Fill in the Blank. Bring an iPod into the room and play a few sections of well-known songs for the group. Stop the song and have the group fill in the next line of the song. See if they know the words by heart!
What ice breakers have you used that have been successful? Which ice breakers from the list are you excited to try? Share your ideas with us.