How To Use Training Games

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the demand for training games in various business settings and how, generally, there are few authoritative sources that people can access for free.

Mention the words “training games” in certain places, and some people will immediately roll their eyes in disgust.

It’s like people have some pre-set notion of training games just being people dancing around a room playing musical chairs and with yellow stickies stuck to their foreheads.

Why?

Because such destructive images tend to proliferate the movies or comedy sketch shows.

Before we get further into our “how to use training games”, I thought I’d better tell you what to expect.

This is a complete guide on how to use training games, with 18 practical examples you can use.

Feel free to blog, tweet, email, and pass this post to others … but please do let people know where you read this guide. Thanks!

Let’s dive in …

Chapter 1: What are training games?

Chapter 2: How To Choose What Training Games To Use In Your Courses

Chapter 3: How To Structure The Training Games In Your Training Courses

Chapter 4: Step-By-Step Tutorials On How To Use 18 Practical Training Games

Chapter 5: Free Training Games And Icebreakers Online

Chapter 6: Online Tools You Can Use

Chapter 1: What Are Training Games?

In this section, I’ll answer the question:

“What are training games?”.

I’ll also show you why training games are still so important for training professionals and people managers.

Starting out, make sure you understand the difference between what training games are and what they should be used for.

The lesson? Keep it simple.

Training games are an enjoyable way of reinforcing knowledge and skills within a training course. Games can ensure learning becomes more relevant.

Training games are also an ideal way to prepare employees to be job-ready in less time and skills can be used within a safe environment without real-life consequences.

What are training games used for?

To understand training games, you’ll need to consider the situations in which they are used. And, to succeed within the training space today, it’s important to have a solid strategy regarding the use of games within your sessions. Needless to say, training games can be used to:

  • Facilitate introductions.
  • Assist group formation.
  • Facilitate introductions.
  • Introduce topics, concepts, or themes.
  • Prepare participants for learning.
  • Energize the group.

More on that in a minute.

Chapter 2: How To Choose What Training Games To Use In Your Courses

If you’re already using games within your own training sessions or meetings then you probably already know a lot about them, how they work, and sessions compare when they are not used.

So your job now is to learn about how best to choose the right games to use so as to maximize the benefits for your audience.

That way, you can interact in a voice that resonates with and engages an audience and you can
choose a training game copy that speaks directly to your audience.

To be clear: There are 5 aspects that need to be considered when choosing a game for your event.

Think about it. As it stands now, you’ve got:

  1. Rationale/Goals: It is always essential that the game chosen reflects the rationale and goals of the event within which the game is being used.
  2. Experience: It is also crucial that it has been tried and tested on others and that you are familiar with all aspects of the activity.
  3. Audience: Consider who the audience is. Are they present as a group or as individuals? For example, is the purpose of the game to facilitate introductions? Similarly, what are the participant’s ability levels? For example, will they understand the game being used?
  4. Challenge: Have they completed the game before?
  5. Connection To The Event: As the trainer, you must also ensure that the game ‘connects’ to a point in the course or meeting. To illustrate, an energizer activity is best used after a break period rather than before the break!

Chapter 3: How To Structure Training Games In Your Training Courses

It’s no secret that the structure of the training is the key that unlocks amazing learning opportunities within training courses.

But if you want to effectively use training games that convert, you need to master one simple situation: Simply having a few training games isn’t going to guarantee success.

So people managers and training professionals, stop thinking in terms of “one or two training games” and “a whole collection of training games.”

As long as the games get what you need to be achieved, it’s just going to be “meeting the needs of your audience” which is what we should be doing anyway.

As it happens, certain training games work better in different situations.

Using training games is not hard work. In reality, it’s just the way that you’re helping your audience get where they need to be and preparing the groundwork for all learning.

Here are the 7 aspects that will determine how the training games are structured:

  1. The number of participants involved.
  2. Time required – do you have enough time to complete the task?
  3. Place – where the activity will take place?
  4. Permission – participants should be allowed to choose not to participate.
  5. Tone – What tone does the activity set with the group?
  6. Opportunity to include learning points for the event.
  7. Opportunity to ask questions.

Keep reading …

Chapter 4: Step-By-Step Tutorials On How To Use 18 Practical Training Games

Most inexperienced people managers and training professionals make the mistake of thinking one or two training games are all that you need.

Keep in mind folks, if you want to use powerful training games effectively, you need to have a range of games at your disposal.

The overriding question is: How can you use the right games at the right time without ending up messing up your training course?

Read this chapter if you want to:

  • Create and use training games that convert well.
  • See examples of some of the best tried and tested training games.
  • Get access to proven training games.

Below are five types of training games that you can use in your training sessions. Each type of training game includes step-by-step guidance on how you can use them.

Icebreaker Games

What you may not know is that no guide on training games would be complete without exploring icebreaker games. Icebreaker games are pretty easy to spot and use.

For example, if you see games used at the start of a training session or meeting, they’re probably icebreaker games.

An icebreaker is basically a game or exercise that is used to welcome or introduce participants to a training course or meeting.

Does that mean you should always use an icebreaker game in your sessions?

That’s a choice only you can make.

What’s going on here?

We personally recommend using icebreakers as often as you can.

But it’s up to you.

From a learning and development standpoint, your ability to select the right training games to use in different situations is the basis of training mastery and success.

Without it, there’d be no “training innovations” in the first place. It’s also why training games are so essential in course delivery.

In today’s business environment, it’s not enough to have bland icebreaker games. They have to be an imaginative and engaging experience that connects with your delegates. Anything less may not be effective in the long run.

In that sense, training games are, and should be, tools in your arsenal — no doubt about it.

Here are seven step-by-step icebreaker games that you can use in your training sessions and meetings today.

1. What Do I Expect? 

Objectives

Ensure that all expectations are set at the start of the training event.

Method

Draw a simple matrix on a flip chart as below. Some sample answers are provided – they will help you get participants started though you may wish not to fill them on the matrix at the beginning.

From The Course  Knowledge New Skills   From The Trainer  Expertise Experience Direction
From Others  Confidentiality Honesty From Me  Participation Support    

Ask participants to complete their expectations of the course, of the trainer, from others, and from themselves.

Discussion Questions

  1. Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? If so, why?
  2. Can anyone explain why it is good for us to set expectations?
  3. How can we use these expectations for the rest of the training event?

Appropriate Time Required Flexible, dependent on group size. Max 15 minutes.

2. Getting To Know People

Understanding getting to know people icebreakers is crucial to great training sessions, and many believe that these introductory games are key to success as they help delegates to interact. These icebreaker games are best used at the start of the session and should take no more than 5 – 10 minutes depending on the size of the group.

Objectives

To allow people to get to know each other’s names and some basic information about each other.

Method

There are many variations to this game but with some thought and imagination, you will be able to build your own variations to meet the requirements of your training session. A few will be outlined here to indicate how they work.

3. The Animal

Each person picks the name of an animal name that starts with the first letter of their own name. To illustrate, ‘I am Aardvark Alan’. Then the next person continues by stating ‘that was Aardvark Alan and I am Bettle Bob’. And so on …

4. The Name

Ask each person to state their name and to give a little more information about their name.

Why are they called that name?

Is there any history associated with the name?

Do they have a nickname?

What other names do they like? And so on …

5. The Magical Ball

Everyone stands in a circle and the trainer introduces a magical ball (imaginary if none is available). When you receive the ball, you state your name and who you received the ball from.

To illustrate, ‘I am Alan and I received the ball from Bob’. And so on … When members receive the ball for a second time they have to also state where they are from – ‘I am Alan from Las Vegas and I received the ball from Bob’.

And so on … You can continue this game with many variations.

I’ve always tended to believe that games are not the trigger with this icebreaker.

Rather, it’s openness, humor, fun, and laughter that can result in the trust being developed that opens delegates to share experiences.

6. The Hobby

Ask participants to write their names on a blank name card and to draw something to do with their favorite hobby or past-time.

Each person then has to state their name and describe the image that they have drawn detailing

  1. What do they like about their hobby?
  2. How long they have done this?

The participant then uses their name card for the rest of the session.

7. The Color

Ask participants to write their names on a blank name card using their favorite color.

Each person then has to state their name and describe

  • Why did they choose the color?
  • How does the color relate to them?

The participant then uses their name card for the rest of the session.

Discussion Questions For All Your Icebreakers

  1. Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? If so, why?
  2. Can anyone explain why it is good for us to know each other’s names?

Awareness Games

Self-awareness is a key skill that helps your audience to understand how their thoughts, emotions, and values can impact their behavior and capacity for learning.

That’s why corporate trainers and business manager pack their sessions, workshops, and meetings with carefully selected training games that focus on building awareness.

Basically, awareness games are often used during training sessions and meetings to help stimulate emotional intelligence and link the learning situation to the individual.

The #1 thing that makes an awareness game effective is that you generate a direct line to your audience.

These awareness training games are best used at the start of the session and should take no more than 5 – 10 minutes depending on the size of the group.

What awareness training games achieve, quite well in fact, is that if give people storylines worth talking about, this behavior and interaction levels will spread over to other parts of the training courses.

Awareness training games have historically offered the most value within training settings, rather than within meeting settings, but only if the method of delivery is followed correctly.

8. Mystery Figure – Three Questions

Objectives

To increase awareness levels within the group.

Method

  1. Participants are asked to guess the name of a mysterious figure that the trainer has chosen.
  2. During the exercise, participants are allowed to ask only three questions in total which the trainer will respond with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
  3. Once a participant completes the three questions they are not allowed to ask any more questions and have to remain silent.

This game will encourage participants to be aware and take responsibility for their questioning and demonstrate the need for all the groups to be working together.

Energizer Games

If you’re like most people, energizer games can be one of the most exciting, and even loud, types of training games that you can use in your training courses.

An energizer game uses physical movement, problem-solving, and fun to engage and energize your participants for the training course or meeting.

An energizer game is usually a simple game that is best used at the start of the session and should take no more than 5 – 10 minutes depending on the size of the group.

Even better: The people attending your courses and meetings will most likely remember this game the most. Which generally means they’re ready for learning.

So we’ve included some simple examples and step-by-step guidance to make this activity of value for you and your audience.

9. Musical Chairs

Objectives

To increase energy levels within the group.

Method

  1. Place all the participant chairs in a line in the middle of the room and ask the group to sit on the chairs.
  2. Use a radio or create a beat using handclaps. Ask the group to stand and when the music is played to walk around the chairs. When the music stops they have to sit on a chair nearest to them.
  3. Gradually remove the chairs one at a time until all group members have to somehow sit on the same chair!

10. Chain Message

Objectives

To increase energy levels within the group.

Method

  1. Ask the group to stand in a line.
  2. The person at the back of the line is given the first line of a story (e.g., Seven tall men walked into a bar …) and asked to whisper the line to the person in front of them.
  3. The next person has to add a second line and whisper both lines to the person in front of them.
  4. This sequence continues with each additional participant adding another line until each reaches the front of the line where this person is asked to tell the story.

You can add a variation to this story where the group also has to tell the story backwards by going back down the line again.

11. Ice-Cream Islands

Objectives

To increase energy levels within the group.

Method

  1. Place four large cushions in the centre of the room with a small gap between each pillow (You can use other items to represent the four places if you don’t have pillows).
  2. Tell the participants that these are Islands called – Spring, Summer, Fall, & Winter. Indicate which island is which.
  3. Also, let participants know that these islands are safe but that the water around them is shark-infested and that once they are on the island they cannot place any part of their body in the water for fear of their life!
  4. Now in quick succession tells the participants:
    1. ‘All those who like ice cream go to Spring Island
    2. ‘All those who like vanilla ice cream go to Fall Island
    3. ‘All those who prefer chocolate ice cream go to Summer Island
    4. ‘All those who don’t like ice cream go to Winter Island

Stand back and watch the scramble.

Verbal Games

It’s now time to talk about verbal games and how they can be used in training courses or meetings to aid communication. Specifically, we’re going to share three proven verbal game templates.

Why?

These verbal games focus on specific key learning points to improve communication within your training course or meetings.

These three templates are specifically designed to help you to get the most from your sessions and to start using verbal games that your participants will love.

Verbal games are an important communication technique, and that’s especially true for their use within training sessions.

Verbal games are best used when you feel that the group will need to share more in the session and should take no more than 10 – 15 minutes depending on the size of the group.

12. Life Stories

Objectives

To increase sharing skills within the group.

Method

  1. Participants each draw and complete a tree of life on a sheet of paper.
  2. The roots are used to represent their family, the trunk is their support, the leaves their success, and the top of their future aspirations.
  3. The trees are then discussed with the group.

13. From Me – From You

Objectives

To increase sharing skills within the group.

Method

  1. Participants are asked what they expect from members of the group (e.g., participation) and what they will share with the group (e.g., honesty).
  2. All answers are placed on a flip chart and it can be used as a contract between participants.

14. That’s Really Me

Objectives

To increase sharing skills within the group.

Method

  1. Participants are asked to write down on a piece of paper one thing that no one else in the group knows about them.
  2. All answers are placed together and are picked out by participants one at a time.
  3. Answers are read aloud and participants have to guess who they refer to.

Closing Games

Closing games are just like they sound. They’re a game that is used at the end of a training course, session, or meeting that pushes your participants to consolidate their learning.

They should take no more than 10 – 15 minutes depending on the size of the group. Specifically, we’re going to share four proven closing game templates.

15. Wishes

Objectives

To recognize the end of the training session and the learning achieved.

Method

Everyone stands in a circle and makes a wish for themselves and for the whole group.

16. Reflections

Objectives

To recognize the end of the training session and the learning achieved.

Method

Everyone stands in a circle and states individually what the training session has meant for them. 1

7. Appreciations

Objectives

To recognize the end of the training session and the learning achieved.

Method

Everyone stands in a circle and offers positive appreciation to each other for their contribution to the training event.

18. Coming With Me

Objectives

To recognize the end of the training session and the learning achieved.

Method

Everyone stands in a circle and states what is coming with me from the group. This could include new skills, understandings, or friendships.

Chapter 5: Free Training Games And Icebreakers Online

The traditional wisdom about training games is that you should always be collecting training games and icebreakers for your training settings.

It’s not always easy, but here is a quick list of at 10 training icebreakers providers of icebreakers and training games providers on the internet today. We provide this list for your convenience.

Skills Converged A selection of free-to-use games and activities to enrich and add more interaction to your training.

TrainingCourseMaterial.com provide innovative training material course packages to deliver professional soft skills business and workplace skills training courses that you can instantly download and use to train others.

Business Training WorksIcebreakers, Introductions, and Hellos for Teachers, Trainers, and Facilitators was written to add excitement and variety to training.

Trainer Bubble – Free Training Games that can be used for training courses. We have one of the largest collections of free training games on the internet.

Symonds Research – Free group ice breakers (icebreakers) for trainers and for classroom or online teaching. Ideal for meetings, and training in your lesson plans.

Business Balls – Here are techniques, theories, and ideas for designing and using your own team-building games, exercises, and activities, and tips for using the many free teams and group activities and ideas on this website.

Chapter 6: Online Tools You Can Use

Here is a quick list of some of the online tools that you can use to deliver your training games. Please note we are not affiliated with any of these providers and the list is provided for your convenience.

Keynote – Keynote makes it easy to create stunning and memorable presentations and comes included with most Apple devices.

Prezi Unlike screen sharing, Prezi Video lets you interact with your visuals on screen.

LinkedIn SlideShareShare what you know and love through presentations, infographics, documents, and more

Zoho Show  – Bring your team to a secure and collaborative workspace where everything is available to everyone in real-time. Create, collaborate, and get work done, securely.

FlowVella  – Blow your audience away in one interactive presentation experience.

LibreOffice Impress  – LibreOffice is a free and powerful office suite and a successor to OpenOffice.org (commonly known as OpenOffice). Its clean interface and feature-rich tools help you unleash your creativity and enhance your productivity.

Ludus – collaborative presentations for creative teams.The presentation tool that combines creativity with simplicity… and a bit of magic.

PowToon  – Powtoon is the visual communication platform that gives you the freedom to create professional and fully customized videos your audience will love.

Speaker Deck – Turning your decks into beautiful online experiences can be a pain.

Visme Create visual brand experiences for your business whether you are a seasoned designer or a total novice.

WPS Presentation – free and complete office suite.

authorSTREAM – the best way to share presentations on the web.

Genially – Create presentations, infographics, and other stunning content by yourself or with your team.

Canva With thousands of professional templates, images, and quality content to choose from, get a headstart on bringing your best ideas to life.

Beautiful.ai – It’s an expert deck designer, so you don’t have to be. Make your business look brilliant, keep your team forever on brand, and save hours on pitches you’re actually proud of.

Ahaslides – Make interactive presentations for awestruck audiences. The perfect tool for lessons, training, meetings, and quizzes.

Conclusion

That’s it for our guide to training games.

It’s been said in learning and development circles that training games and training icebreakers are precursors to learning.

So, which training game from today’s guide do you think could be best used in your training courses?

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