The Essential Guide To Training Icebreakers

This is a complete guide to using training icebreakers in 2021. So if you want to use icebreakers in your training courses, you’ll enjoy the 18 practical and actionable examples of training icebreakers in this new guide.

Chapter 1: What Are Training Icebreakers

Chapter 2: How To Select Icebreakers For Your Training Courses

Chapter 3: Getting To Know People (6 Step-By-Step Examples)

Chapter 4: Icebreakers Games (11 Step-By-Step Examples)

Chapter 5: Sources Of Training Games And Icebreakers Online

Chapter 6: Online Tools You Can Use Let’s dive right in.

What Are Training Icebreakers

Training icebreakers are an essential way of introducing participants to each other and reinforcing aspects within a training course or meetings. Icebreakers will ensure participants get to know each other.

Experienced professionals all know the need for icebreakers.

The only challenge is knowing what icebreaker to use. And, when to use them.

If you can master icebreakers, all that other delivery stuff becomes really easy.

Icebreakers are extremely important in sessions to:

  • Facilitate Introductions
  • Assist Group Formation
  • Introduce Topics, Concepts, Or Themes
  • Prepare Participants For Learning
  • Energize The Group

Icebreakers are usually employed at the start of a session or at stages where new material or sessions are beginning (e.g., after a break or to energize a group before a new topic is covered).

Most opening activity icebreakers should last around ten to fifteen minutes – although there is a range of issues that may influence what icebreaker that you will employ.

It is important to make sure that all participants are comfortable with the icebreaker – even though sometimes the exercise may challenge them.

How To Select Icebreakers For Your Training Courses

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 icebreaker chosen reflects the rationale and goals of the training event.

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.

Audience:

  • Consider who the audience is?
  • Are they there as a group or as individuals?
  • What are the participant’s ability levels?
  • Have they completed the icebreaker before?

Remember individuals also like to be challenged.

Connection To The Event: You must also ensure that the icebreaker ‘connects’ to a point in the event. To illustrate, an energizer activity is best used after a break period than before the break!

Structure of the Activity

When considering the structure of activity to be used you will need to be aware of:

  • 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 training event.
  • Opportunity to ask questions.


Getting To Know People

1. Just For You

Objectives
To get participants to share their opinions, encourage listening, and promote better discussion in the group.

Method
Divide the group into pairs.

Ask the pairs to describe what gift they would give each other.

Once they have completed this brings the group back together. Then each member must describe in detail their exercise partner’s gift from you, why they chose it? And, what it says about their partner?

This exercise also encourages questioning and listening skills within the group.

Discussion Questions
Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? Is so, why?
How can we use this exercise for the rest of the training event?

Appropriate Time Required

Flexible, dependent on group size. Maximum time 15 minutes.


2. The Interview Game – Odd or Even

Objectives
To get participants to share their opinions, encourage listening, and promote discussion in the group.

Method
Divide the group into threes and assign numbers 1, 2, and 3 to each member.

Ask the odd members to be interviewers for a job as a bank manager (or a job title of your choice). And, the even number to be the candidate at the interview.

Ask the group to role-play this situation for 10 minutes.

Once they have completed this brings the group back together. Then ask a few groups to role-play this interview situation for the larger group. Use these simulations to guide your discussions.

This exercise also encourages questioning and listening skills within the group.

Discussion Questions
Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? Is so, why?
How can we use this exercise for the rest of the training event?

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


3. My Favorite Place

Objectives
To get participants to share their opinions, encourage listening, and to promote better discussion in the group.

Method
Divide the group into pairs. Ask the pairs to describe to each other their favorite place.

Once they have completed this brings the group back together. Then each member must describe in detail their partner’s favorite place and be able to answer questions on the group in these places.

This exercise also encourages questioning and listening skills within the group.

Discussion Questions
Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? If so, why?
How can this exercise help us during today’s training event?

Appropriate Time Required

Flexible, dependent on group size. Maximum time 15 minutes


4. Something For The Weekend

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

Method
Ask each person to state their name and to share what they are doing for the weekend. If they are not planning anything for the weekend then ask them to talk about the last weekend they did something? And so on …

Appropriate Time Required
Flexible, dependent on group size. Maximum time 10 minutes.


5. What Does It Mean To Me?

Objectives
To get participants to offer their opinions on the meaning of words and to promote greater discussion in the group.

Method

Place the following list of words on a flip-chart and ask each participant to chose one word. And, to then discuss what it means to them.

Note: You can substitute other words to suit the purpose of your training event.

Teams Success Work-Life Balance
Change Happiness Vision
Leadership Friendship Freedom
Trust Faith Hope

Encourage participants to discuss the meanings of the words. And, explore how we all can hold different meanings for the same word.

Appropriate Time Required

Flexible, dependent on group size.


6. Telling Me – Telling You

Objectives

To encourage participants to share their opinions, encourage listening, and promote greater discussion in the group.

Method

Divide the training group into pairs.

Ask the pairs to describe to each other their favorite things.

Once they have completed this task, bring the group back together. Then ask each member to describe in detail their exercise’s partner favorite things.

This exercise also encourages questioning and listening skills within the group.

Discussion Questions

Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? Is so, why?
How can this exercise help us during today’s training event?

Appropriate Time Required

Flexible, dependent on group size. Maximum time 15 minutes.


Icebreaker Games

7. 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. Some sample answers are provided as examples – these will help you get participants started.

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.


8. ‘Me – A Name I Call Myself’

Objectives

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

Method

There are many variations to this icebreaker.

A few will be outlined here to indicate how they work.


9. The Animal

Each person picks the name of an animal 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 …


10. 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 …

Appropriate Time Required

Flexible, dependent on group size.

Maximum time 10 minutes.


11. Three Is A Lucky Number!

Objectives
To encourage participants to offer their opinions, encourage listening, and to promote greater discussion in the group.

Method
Divide the group into pairs.

Ask the pairs to debate (1 for and 1 against) the proposition that ‘3 is a lucky number’.

Ask the group to role-play this situation for 10 minutes.

Once they have completed this brings the group back together. Then ask a few groups to role-play this debate with the larger group. Use these simulations to guide your discussions.

This exercise also encourages questioning and listening skills within the group.

Discussion Questions
Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? If so, why?
How can we use this exercise for the rest of the training event?

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


12. Circle Of Friends

Objectives
To get participants to offer their opinions, encourage listening, and promote better discussion in the group.

Method
Divide the group into fours.
Ask one member of the group to be the main character and that the others are their friends.

The friends have to tell the main character about themselves and the main character will later have to introduce their friends to the larger group.

You can rotate the main character a few times to give everyone experience of this position.

This exercise also encourages questioning and listening skills within the group.

Discussion Questions
Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? If so, why?
How can we use this exercise for the rest of the training event?

Appropriate Time Required
Flexible, dependent on group size.

Maximum time 15 minutes.


13. Paris, Rome, or New York

Objectives
To get participants to share their opinions, encourage listening, and promote better discussion in the group.

Method
This is a very simple exercise that participants can also have some fun with.

Ask participants of the training event to imagine themselves in each of the cities above. And, what they would like to do there? What would they work at? Would their life be different? If so, in what ways?

Once each person has described who they would like to get the group in a circle to discuss the exercise.

This exercise also encourages questioning and listening skills within the group and individuals’ perceptions of different things.

Discussion Questions
Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? If so, why?
How can this exercise help us during today’s training event?
Of all the places presented does anyone want to change? If so why or why not?

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


14. Opposites – Reverse

Objectives
To get participants to share their opinions, encourage listening, and promote greater discussion in the group.

Method
This is a very simple exercise that participants can have some fun with also.

Ask participants of the training event to describe a character that would be the exact opposite of themselves.

Once each person has described their exact opposite get the group in a circle to discuss the exercise. Then ask the group to reverse the descriptions and describe each other.

This exercise also encourages listening skills within the group and individuals’ perceptions of themselves and each other.

Discussion Questions
1. Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? If so, why?
2. How can this exercise help us during today’s training event?
3. Has anyone changed their perception of their opposite or themselves? If so, how or why?

Appropriate Time Required
Flexible, dependent on group size.

Maximum time 15 minutes.


15. I Like Toys

Objectives

To get participants to share their opinions, encourage listening, and promote discussion in the group.

Method

Divide the group into pairs.

Ask the pairs to describe to each other their favorite toy when they were young.

Once they have completed this brings the group back together. Then each member must describe in detail their exercise partner’s favorite toy and be able to answer questions on the group on this toy.

This exercise also encourages questioning and listening skills within the group.

Discussion Questions

Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? If so, why?
How can this exercise help us during today’s training event?
How did the toy represent you?
What toy would represent you now?

Appropriate Time Required

Flexible, dependent on group size. Maximum time 15 minutes.


16. Desert Island Choices

Objectives
To get participants to share their opinions, encourage listening, and to promote greater discussion in the group.

Method

This is a variation of the desert island discs program where participants choose what records they would bring with them onto a desert island.

Ask participants of the training event to pick three things that they would bring with them if they were going to be marooned on a desert island.

You can give examples or specific areas if you like. To illustrate:

Books (great escapes may help)
Tools (Boatbuilding!)
CD’s (don’t forget CD player)
People

Discussion Questions
How can this exercise help us during today’s training event?
What do your choices tell you about yourself? Please explain your answer.
What do other choices tell you about them? Please explain your answer.
Having heard what others would bring, is there anything else that you would no bring with you

Appropriate Time Required
Flexible, dependent on group size.


17. If I Wasn’t Me

Objectives
To get participants to share their opinions, encourage listening, and to promote discussion in the group.

Method
This is a very simple exercise that participants can have some fun with also.

Ask participants of the training event to think about who they would like to be if they weren’t themselves. Each person will need to describe this person to the group.

Once each person has described who they would like to get the group in a circle to discuss the exercise.

This exercise also encourages questioning and listening skills within the group.

Discussion Questions

Did anyone feel uncomfortable doing this exercise? Is so, why?
How can this exercise help us during today’s training event?
What does the person you chose to tell you about yourself? Please explain your answer.

Of all the characters presented does anyone want to change? If so why or why not?

Appropriate Time Required
Flexible, dependent on group size.


Chapter 5: Free Training Games And Icebreakers Online

Here is a quick list of some of the free training icebreakers and training games 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 They provide innovative training material courses 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.

Top Hat10 essential icebreaker activities for any online course collated by Harleen Dhami. Really enjoyed the collaborative resumé icebreaker.

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.

Session Labs 45 Ice Breaker Games compiled by Robert Cserti. Well worth a visit.

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

Snack Nation 35 ridiculously fun icebreaker ideas, games, & activities for your next meeting collated by Ashley Bell. Really fun activities.

Business Balls Here are techniques, theory, and ideas for designing and using your own team building games, exercises, and activities, and tips for using the many free team 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 icebreakers. 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 and work 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 icebreakers in 2021. Which training icebreakers from today’s guide do you think could be best used in your training courses? Or maybe you have a question for us. Either way, let us know by contacting us. And, please don’t forget to share this guide.

 

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