Ice Breakers

Ice Breakers
Derrick Newby MPA
• Participants will learn a common definition of
• Participants will learn how to develop Icebreakers
• Participants will learn the appropriate time to utilize
Icebreakers to enhance training
What are Icebreakers?
Icebreakers are structured activities that are designed
• relax learners,
• introduce them to each other,
• and energize them in what is normally an unduly
formal atmosphere or situation
The Term Icebreaker
• comes from “break the ice,”
• which in turn comes from special ships called
“icebreakers” that are designed to break up ice in
the arctic regions.
Icebreaker vs. Opener
• Icebreakers are not normally related to the subject
• “openers” are related to the subject matter that is
to be discussed
Ex: In a medical conference having people to
introduce themselves and say their medical
Icebreaker vs. Review
• Icebreakers are used to start a learning session
• Reviews are used in the closing of a session or
module. They help to reinforce key concepts or
Ex: Having participants to write down 3 things they
learned on index card, passing cards around and
having participants read cards.
Motivators vs. Icebreakers
• Motivators are designed to help encourage the
• Motivators are not done at the beginning but done
periodically to stimulate the group.
Why use Ice Breakers?
To Warm up your audience
Create Interest
Reduce tension
Learn about your audience
Help your audience learn about each other
Breakdown social barriers
When to use Icebreakers
• Cold Audience
• Mixed specialty audience
• Guest speaker that group may not know
What if your group is
over stimulated?
Use a Calm Down!
• Have the learners lay their heads on their desks or
table or simple close eyes.
• Have them reflect on what they have just learned.
• After about 3 minutes, say a key word or short
phase and have them reflect on it for a couple of
• Repeat one or two more times then gather the
group into a circle and have them share what they
believe is the most important points of the training.
Types of Icebreakers
Get acquainted
Scavenger Hunt
Meet and Greet
Get acquainted
• Allows for an exchange of interpersonal information
that decreases anxiety
Scavenger Hunt
• Facilitates interactions among all participants and
promotes healthy competition.
Meet and Greet
• Allows for an open exchange of information
• Non-threatening
• Allows open feed back to presenter allowing them
the opportunity to adjust and meet the needs of
the audience.
Examples of ice breakers
• Break group into 5 member teams.
• State “You are marooned on a island. What five
items would you have brought with you if you knew
there was a chance that you might be stranded.”
• State, “only five items per team, not per person.”
• Have them write the groups 5 items on a flip chart
and as they discuss and defend their choices with
the whole group.
• This activity helps them to learn about other's values
and problem solving styles and promotes
The Interview
• Break the group into two-person teams (have them
pick a partner that they know the least about).
• Have them interview each other for about 5
• They need to learn about what each other likes,
past jobs, family life, hobbies, favorite sport, etc.
• After the interviews, reassemble the group and
have each team introduce their team member to
the group.
• This exercise helps them to learn about each other
on a personal level and helps develop trust.
Who Done That?
• Prior to the meeting, make a list of about 25 items relating to
work and home life. For example, a list for a group of trainers
might have some of the following: Developed a computer
training course, has delivered coaching classes, spoken at
national conference, etc.
• Ensure there is plenty of space below each item (3 or 4 lines)
and then make enough copies for each person.
• Give each person a copy of the list and have them find
someone who can sign one of the lines. Have them to write a
phone number next to their names.
• Allow about 15 minutes for the activity and give prizes for the
first one completed, most names (you can have more that
one name next to an item), last one completed, etc.
• This activity provides participants with a contact list of experts
and helps them to learn about each other.
Tips for developing
Clear Instructions
Think before you act and choose your
icebreaker wisely.
Finish the Sentence
• Go around the room and have each person
complete one of these sentences (or something
similar): The best job I ever had was... , The worst
project I ever worked on was... , The riskiest thing I
ever did was...
This is a risky icebreaker, so choose the questions
wisely. As not to increase tension.
• use icebreakers to create a more relaxed environment.
• use icebreakers as topic lead-ins during class and
• choose the right game for the right group.
• make sure that you have the right amount of people for
the game that you choose.
• make the instructions for the icebreaker as simple as
• keep your eye on the participants. Make sure that they
are having fun.
• be ready to improvise if necessary.
• have a back-up plan. If the icebreaker isn’t working, you
will need it.
Do not’s
• Don’t introduce an icebreaker game that will make
others uncomfortable- physically or mentally.
• Don’t underestimate the time it will take to
complete the icebreaker game or activity.
• Don’t forget to bring all of the materials that you
• Don’t force people to participate.
• Don’t forget to keep track of which ice breakers
work and which ones don’t.
• Don’t choose complicated icebreakers. Keep it
What influences your
choice of icebreaker?
•Size of audience
•Skill level of audience
•Allotted time for
Your time to shine
• Choose a partner
• Decide what you want your icebreaker to
• Create an icebreaker (5 min.)
• Report back to group –Name of Icebreaker,
objective, directions
• Rate the ice breaker 1-5
• Best score wins a prize.
Icebreakers keep them
Ice Breakers are great tools
Choose your Ice Breaker carefully
Have options based on audience size
Ask your audience for feed back
• The speakers Trainer
• Icebreakers- The Do's and Don'ts of Icebreakers

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