Understanding why we use games

Learn how to create and use training games while making a stronger impact on your participants.

If you’re involved in delivering courses there is always pressure to find innovative great training games.

But, it can be often difficult for time starved business skills professionals to continually come up with new options.

Often, familiar games can be seen as always better in terms of accuracy and efficiency.

Of course, there’s plenty of room for new examples, but don’t be tempted by just rehashing what might have worked in the past.

Good old fashioned creative ideas, armed with some solid examples, are still the best solution.

As for the benefits of creating new options they are large. But, don’t get worried by the time that you may need to apply.

Today we want to talk about training games. In particular, how and when you should use them.

Some new business trainers and managers can be unfamiliar at the thought of using icebreakers. But the simplest way to implement them is to think about why you are using them.

Icebreakers:

• Facilitate Introductions.
• Assist Group Formation.
• Facilitate Introductions.
• Introduce Topics, Concepts Or Themes.
• Prepare Participants For Learning.
• Energize The Group Games and are generally used at any stage in the training event.

Opening activity games should last around ten to fifteen minutes.

It is important that all participants are comfortable with the game – even though the exercise may challenge them.

Choosing what games to use

There are many issues that need to be considered when choosing an icebreaker for your event. These include:

• Rationale/Goals: It is always essential that the game chosen reflects the rationale and goals of the event.
• Experience: It is also crucial that it has been tried and tested on others and you are familiar with all aspects of the activity.
• Audience: Consider who the audience is? Are they there as a group or as individuals? What are the participants ability levels? 
• Challenge:
 Have they completed the game before?
• Connection To The Event: As the trainer, you must also ensure that the game ‘connects’ to a point in the course. To illustrate, an energizer activity is best used after a break period than before the break!

Structure of the activity

Experienced professionals will tell you that they need a quick and simple ways to get the session moving.

The way to do this is to consider how you will the structure of activity. This will depend on:

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

We are please to let you use our complete training games guide that can be used in all your training sessions.

Icebreaker Games

What I Expect? 

Objectives

To 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? Is 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.

Getting To Know People 

These 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 others 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.

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 …

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 name do they like? And so on …

The Magical Ball

Every 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.

The Hobby

Ask participants to write their name 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 they like about what their hobby?
  2. How long they have doing this?

Participant then use their name card for the rest of the session.

The Color

Ask participants to write their name on a blank name card using their favorite color. Each person then has to state their name and describe

  • What they chose the color?
  • How the color relates to them?

Participant then use their name card for the rest of the session.

Discussion Questions

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

Awareness Games

These 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.

Mystery Figure – Three Questions

Objectives

To increase awareness levels within the group.

Method

Participants are asked to guess the name of a mystery figure that the trainer has chosen.

During the exercise participants are allowed to ask only three questions in total which the trainer will respond with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.

Once a participant completes their 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 group to be working together.

Energizer Games

These 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.

Musical Chairs

Objectives

To increase energy levels within the group.

Method

Place all the participant chairs in a line in the middle of the room and ask the group to sit on the chairs.

Use a radio or create a beat using hand claps. 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.

Gradually remove the chairs one at a time until all group members have to somehow sit on the same chair!

Chain Message

Objectives

To increase energy levels within the group.

Method

Ask the group to stand in a line.

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. The next person has to add a second line and whisper both lines to the person in front of them. 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.

Ice-Cream Islands

Objectives

To increase energy levels within the group.

Method

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).

Tell the participants that these are Islands called – Spring, Summer, Fall, & Winter. Indicate which island is which. Also let participants know that these islands are safe but that the water around them are shark infested and that they once they are on the island they cannot place any part of their body in the water for fear of their life!

Now in quick succession tell 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

These 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.

Life Stories

Objectives

To increase sharing skills within the group.

Method

Participants each draw and complete a ‘tree of life’ on a sheet of paper.

The roots are used to represent their family, the trunk their supports, the leaves their success and the top their future aspirations.

The trees are then discussed with the group.

From Me – From You

Objectives

To increase sharing skills within the group.

Method

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).

All answers are placed on a flip-chart and it can be used as a contract between participants.

That’s Really Me

Objectives

To increase sharing skills within the group.

Method

Participants are asked to write down on a piece of paper one thing that no-one else in the group knows about them.

All answers are placed together and are picked out by participants one at a time. They are read aloud and participants have to guess who they refer to.

Closing Games

These are used when at the end of the session and should take no more than 10 – 15 minutes depending on the size of the group.

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.

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.

Appreciations

Objectives

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

Method

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

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.

Create Your Own Games

Objectives

 

 

 

 

 

Method