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Coaching Tip

Off-Site Ice Breaker? Try Trivia, by Cathy Bolger

More and more lately I have been working with geographically dispersed teams. Recently, an IT global group was meeting in San Diego. They asked me to start the two-day conference off with an icebereaker/mixer. Since a goal of the conference was for the participants to enjoy their time together in San Diego, I designed and activity based on San Diego Trivia.

In order to get ideas, I sent a request to a network of my colleagues asking for ideas on San Diego trivia. I stopped in a bookstore and browsed San Diego history books and pamphlets. I went to a used bookstore and found a book written by San Diego librarian Evelyn Kooperman titled "San Diego Trivia."

From those sources, I selected 30 trivia questions. They ranged from easy to very difficult. For instance, the very first trivia question was "What is the name of the professional baseball team in San Diego?" One of the most difficult questions was "What science fiction movie filmed in San Diego has been called the worst film ever made?" (Answer: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes).

On the first day of the conference, I had the participants number off so they would end up in groups of three. I then asked them to determine a team name based on a commonality. For instance, one group called themselves "The Blue Man Group" because they were all wearing blue shirts. I then read the directions, and told them they had 15 minutes to correctly answer as many of the trivia questions as possible. The only limitation I gave them was that they could not use me as a resource. I also told them that I was the final judge on what constituted a correct answer.

The groups immediately focused on their task. Some grabbed their laptops while others went to find the concierge of the hotel to use as a resource. The scores ranged from high of 26 to low of 10. The award for the winning team was a stuffed Panda from the San Diego Zoo.

So next time you are part of planning for an off site meeting, consider using trivia of the local area as an icebreaker. It works!

Cathy Bolger is a San Diego-based consultant specializing in Presentation Skills, Meeting Skills and Conflict Management. She can be reached at 619-294-2511 or Cathy@CathyBolger.com.

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