The secret ice cream

Spicing up meetings and presentations

Sometimes the easiest interventions are the most effective. The secret ice cream is something you probably know under another name and/or played it as a kid. The presenter(s) for an audience have to work ik secret words into their presentation without the audience knowing it

It is a great way to have presenters improvise and is a nice simple addition to add an extra layer to your event or meeting.

ice cream

Purpose

Time frame

Group size

Small, Large

Facilitation level

Comfort level participants

Materials needed

Credits

Vitaly Friedman

Origin of The secret ice cream

Somewhere in 2015, I spoke at a web conference in Sofia, Bulgaria with -amongst others- Smashing Magazine’s Vitaly Friedman. When talking about our presentation the night before, we both were complaining we felt tired and slighly uninspired after so many presentations in the weeks before.

So we decided to spice our presentations up with a simple assignment: we would both have to work in the code word ‘ice cream’ in our slides without anyone in the audience noticing it (so it had to feel seemless). It was the start of the secret ice cream.

More on the ice cream principle
Ice cream

Honorable mention: The lonely island

The Lonely Island, the famous American comedians might have pulled the ultimate secret ice cream when they included a reference to Jimmy Fallon in many of their interviews in their interview cycle.

Five Structural Elements for The secret ice cream

Sometimes the easiest interventions are the most effective. The secret ice cream is something you probably know under another name and/or played it as a kid. As a facilitator, key here is to have clear agreements on the rules of the exercise.

On the five structural elements

To bring some structure to tools and excercises, I borrowed the “five structural elements” from Liberating Structures. It is an easy and structured way to describe the different dimensions of an exercise.

More on the elementsHire me as facilitator
Invitation

There are different alternatives to the exercise.

  1. The secret ice cream. Presenters / attendants have to work in a pre-agreed code word into their presentation in a limited amount of preparation time.
  2. Guess the secret ice cream. The audience knows presenters/attendants will be working in different secret words and have to guess the secret word(s).
  3. Secret ice cream roulette. The different participants will each write 3-5 secret words on a piece of paper and give it to another presenter.

In your invitation towards the presenters make sure to emphasize this is a creativity/improvisation exercise that has to be taken seriously.

How Space Is Arranged and Materials Needed

No special space arrangements or materials needed.

Sequence of Steps and Time Allocation
  1. Brief the participants the night before the presentations (or the hour before if you really want to put the pressure on). Allow participants some time to work the secret words seamlessly into their presentations.
  2. After the presentations, either award the person who worked in the word the best or have the audience decide on the best performer or have the audience guess the secret words (depending on the secret ice cream variation you used).
How Groups Are Configured

No special configuration needed.

How Participation Is Distributed

Usually, a small ‘incrowd’ group is aware of the secret words. Either they have to work in the words so that the audience does not notice secret words were worked in or the audience has to guess the secret words worked into their presentation.

Additional tips and pointers
  • Although A4 sizes slides might work in small groups, A3 (or bigger) truly make a difference and are way easier to read.
  • Best to hang the slides on the wall before the meeting to avoid wasting time hanging slides in the meeting.

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I have 15+ years in changing companies to be less about ads and more about acts. I’d love to hear your story and see how I can help.

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Polle de Maagt

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