I have been a behavioural science faculty for a pretty long time now. It is a practice to begin all training programmes, seminars and workshops with a short ice-breaking session. There are numerous ways of de-freezing the participants who come from varied backgrounds and are usually a little tense and anxious before the start of the programme.
Earlier, I tried many different ways of making the participants comfortable and relaxed. Then, I watched Dr Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga movement world-wide, conducting some laughter yoga exercises in the open at the Lokhandwala Park, Mumbai more than a decade ago. It was a 'eureka' moment for me. I had found the ultimate ice-breaker. I just had to muster courage to try it.
First, I tried to use Laughter Yoga as an ice-breaker in the training programmes conducted for the employees of the State Bank of India. Especially, I remember distinctly the spark of fun in the eyes of marketing executives of the Bank when they repeatedly enjoyed milk shake laughter exercise. Laughter Yoga gradually became a regular feature for ice-breaking and I enjoyed doing it for batches after batches week after week.
Recently, I was invited, along with my wife Radhika, to conduct a brief wellness break for safety, health and environmental heads of Nestle who had come to Goa (India) for a week long workshop from various countries in the Asia-Oceania-Africa region, Their top bosses from Vevey, Switzerland were also present. Laughter Yoga was an instant hit with them and they continued to relish it all through the span of the workshop. All the barriers melted in no time.
The Director of State Bank Foundation Institute (Chetana), Indore, India confided recently - I don't know exactly what you do with the participants but after the laughter session they are quite warm, relaxed and non-fussy. The entire atmosphere changes in the campus. Please keep up the good work.
I can now confidently say that a ten minute ice-breaker consisting of clapping, chanting, child-like playfulness and a few laughter exercises like greeting laughter, milk-shake laughter and hearty laughter can do wonders for any corporate training programme or any sort of seminar or workshop. It works without fail with all groups under all circumstances. The road becomes smooth after that and it is 'Very Good Very Good Yay' all the way after that..