Three statements; one is not true:
1) I believe in icebreakers.
2) Good icebreakers are easy to find.
3) “Two truths and a Lie” can be a good icebreaker.
If you asked me last year, I’d say there were two lies in the three statements above and only one truth. I have to admit, I turned up my nose to the idea of the “Two Truths” icebreaker. I took it to be overused, unimaginative, and frivolous use of time. However, Bill Casey’s online posting of an interesting twist on the exercise has changed my mind. Two features of his explanation are responsible for challenging my thinking. First, he explains the purpose of the exercise; and second, he uses the content throughout the day to lighten the mood and foster communication and networking. Casey writes:
When using the “3 Fact & 1 Lie” exercise, I ask participants to write down three facts about themselves and one lie.
When introducing the exercise I explain, “You are here to learn X, but as adults often do, you will learn a great deal from each other. Hopefully you will even stay connected beyond our seminar. If you can learn a few interesting facts about each other, it will be much easier to have hallway conversations AND stay in touch. I have a way to help us do that. . .” This explanation enables the exercise to proceed without skepticism and with full participation.
Then, throughout the day, I’ll read a few submissions. Together, we vote on what we think are the truths versus the lie, and give away prizes to best liar(s) at the end.
In addition to conducting the exercise so that participants can learn a bit about each other, Casey’s method of facilitating the icebreaker induces lots of laughter (which stimulates the brain), offers a ready source of super quick brain breaks when needed, and entices people back at the end of a break or breakout.
As for the other two statements above: I do believe in icebreakers–that is true. However, I feel that finding one that’s worth the time can be tricky, making statement 2 a lie.
One of the challenges with icebreaker activities, openers, and session-starters is that participants roll their eyes as soon as they hear the term. Sure, some like them, but others immediately don their protective shields, wondering what uncomfortable situation they’ll soon face. Help your group by prefacing the experience with your goals and rationale. Something like one of these,
As in Bill Casey’s example above you might also explain how to use what you learn throughout the learning event. If you’re not going to be calling people by name, then don’t spend time on a name game.
How you facilitate the Two Truths and One Lie Icebreaker can depend on whether it’s a playful way to build energy and relationships, or a useful way to open a training session. If you make a practice of thinking first about your goals and then adapting your activity to those needs, you’ll find success in any icebreakers you choose.