Your Guide to the Use of Icebreakers During Training

How to bring on the fun and avoid the flop!

I have been an active participant in training as much, if not more than I have facilitated training courses. Many training courses open with a “getting to know you” activity. These activities usually involve something like sharing your favorite book, a favorite meal, or favorite animal. 

I’m always an advocate for using activities where they have a purpose, icebreakers included. If you need an icebreaker for your next course, bring some fun and avoid the flop. Consider these types of icebreakers for your next training course.

What is an icebreaker? 

An “icebreaker” is jargon for a short activity that gets the attention of your learners. An icebreaker, “breaks the ice” by helping learners get acquainted with one another. 

I am an advocate for using exercises that have a purpose, therefore, not using an icebreaker for the sake of breaking the ice. But, ensuring that the icebreaker exercise relates to the objective of the training. 

What are some examples of icebreaker activities? 

The traditional “getting to know you” 

Usually positioned at the beginning of a course, this activity helps participants get acquainted. This activity usually involves participants sharing about themselves or answering a specific question assigned by the facilitator. This activity helps to establish common ground among participants and allows participants to socialize in a neutral environment. These sorts of icebreakers are great for team building, leadership development, or situations where building a community of practice is important. 

The opening exercise 

An opening exercise shifts learners’ mindset into “training mode.” I like to tie opening exercises to the objective of my course. This helps a learner to think about the course content as I lay the foundation for what the course content is going to be. 

The Assessment

Assessment or “check-ins” can be done throughout a course. Assessments allow you to test a learner’s knowledge during various stages of the course. Moving through the content, you can make small tweaks to the content and delivery based on the results of the assessment. 

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