May 28, 2012 fm

Hot Ice Breaking?

Source: Salty Seattle

Once they asked the Spanish star chef Ferrán Adrià about a visionary plate he would like to create in the future. He answered: “Hot ice-cream.”

Ice breaking at events tends to be a rather cold activity. Small talk reigns. Deep talk hardly ever happens.

Last week I participated in a spectacular public speaking workshop in Poznan, Poland. Some of the hottest speakers in Europe lined up to share their insights covering a wide field of topics – from preparation to voice, from structure to story-telling.

Grzegorz Turniak, one of Poland’s leading professional networkers, gave a speech on how to organize events in a more communicative way. He explained his approach of turning the standard welcome and reception period into a casual meet and mingle session.

As a passionate networker myself I was hooked by Grzegorz’s way. Thinking about it for a while, sipping on my conference coffee, an idea occured to me.

What are the typical topics to break the ice when you meet strangers at any given event?

Exactly – weather, job, car.

But – what if we provided people some easy rules encouraging them to talk about different, more profound topics?

What if we gave them specific questions which they could ask their counterparts?

What if we turned shallow small talk into hot ice breaking?

Hot Ice Breaking Cards

The idea is that each person receives a Hot Ice Breaking card at the check-in. Each card contains a deeper question like,

“What’s your passion in life?”

“What’s the most exciting place you have been to?”

What’s your biggest dream in life?”

“Who are your best friends?”

“Who is your biggest idol?”

The number of different questions should range from five to ten in order to create diversity.

The simple rule is, the beholder of a Hot Ice Breaking card can ask this one question to any other event attendee. This simple rule provides security. People are no longer afraid to ask deeper questions to strangers. It’s like a task in a board game. The cards add pleasant playfulness to serious surroundings.

The instant effect is a faster trust building process. Small talk never builds trust. Deep talk always does.

We don’t know about the future. We don’t know when Ferrán Adrià will create his hot ice-cream. But – I do know that hot ice breaking is possible today.

Comment (1)

  1. Prince

    This is an interesting train of thought. Hot Ice Breaking is an interesting approach. On the other hand, networking and ice breaking are not everyone’s forte. What I would like to put forward is to profile the interlocutor in the first few instances of interaction to establish where his/her personal space lies.
    Proxemics can be defined as “the interrelated observations and theories of man’s use of space as a specialized elaboration of culture”.
    So if I were to follow your respective thoughts, there has to be some point at which you will both concur in time even if it only appears to be some sort of a mirage in the longest of temporal distances right here and right now.
    As such, I would like to add an additional Z axis and name it “time”. Shall we research this aspect of human interrelation …?

    Edward T. Hall [Hall, Edward T. (1966). The Hidden Dimension. Anchor Books. ISBN 0-385-08476-5]

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