Many people have been in workshops, or courses, where the first activity is to introduce yourself to the group. This can happen in many different way, often depending upon the nature of the event.
I recall a most terrifying experience of standing in a circle and having to introduce ourselves with our name, an adjective beginning with our first initial, and an action. "I'm Alison and I am awesome", whilst awkwardly making a gesture like a star. For some perhaps this was easy, to me it was excruciatingly painful and embarrassing.
Other times it's just the simple matter of sharing your name and what you do. This gives information, and may, depending on what is said, begin to create some connection but it rarely gives the opportunity for people to be seen.
An alternative I'm working with is to use the video camera and a projector, and to invite each participant in turn to come and sit with me and my camera for a minute or two. Beginning with their eyes closed, then eyes open, their image is projected in black and white onto a screen in front of the group.
The result is profound. Each person is truly seen by the group. No words are spoken. The attention is focused on the projected image.
In my experience people are touched by the beauty of each person. Judgement is suspended. They are moved by witnessing another human being. There is no performance, there is no task to perform, there is nothing to do but to sit and be in the moment. And that creates a quality that is rarely seen. There is nowhere to hide, yet there is nothing to be hidden. Nothing to be judged. Sometimes tears spontaneously flow.
It's a big leap in to vulnerability and openness, right from the start, and can create a level of compassion and trust within the group that reduces the time spent 'breaking the ice'.