Ice Breakers For Training Sessions

Ice Breakers for training sessions are a fantastic way to ensure your training session gets off the the best possible start and to get everyone in the right head space to maximize the learning. I have previously covered Ice Breakers For Presentations but training sessions are usually in smaller groups and require different types of Ice Breakers for the best outcomes. I have also covered the Ice Breakers for Meetings separately as these also require a different type approach.

If you are conducting a training session then you will more than likely have a goal to achieve with the training, you might have to ensure that a group of people can complete certain tasks when the training is finished or they might need to understand a topic. Some training sessions might only require attendance as the goal but either way if you want the attendees to get the most out of your training session then you will want to get them in the right mind set before you start.

This is where Ice Breakers really help as regardless of the participants or environment there are Ice Breakers that will help to get everyone ready for your session.

What is The Impact of Ice Breakers

Ice breakers are more than just fun games to get everyone listening to you, they are mind hacks that remove awkwardness and build bridges between you and the training participants. When they start to relax, they become more receptive to new information and especially to new ideas and this is exactly how you want them to feel before you start your training.

Ice Breakers For Training Sessions

Regardless of whether you are training with a room full of strangers or colleagues, many people will be apprehensive about the training. They will be worrying about looking foolish in front of other people or not understanding the content and that can be stressful for some people and will put them on edge. Ice breakers pop that overwhelming bubble by initiating casual conversation, drawing out smiles, and letting them know that almost everyone is feeling the same. This usually puts people at ease and make them feel like they belong.

Once our stress levels have dropped a little our brains will come out of stress mode and will stop looking for danger, we can then relax and enjoy the environment, this makes us much more receptive to learning.

How To Choose The Right Ice Breaker

Choosing the right Ice Breaker is crucial and to do this you need to think about some important factors such as the participants and the environment:

  • Why are the participants there – Are they at the training session because they have signed up voluntarily or because their employer made them come. This has a big impact on what frame of mind they have probably turned up in
  • Do they all know each other or are they complete strangers – This also impacts how people will be feeling when they arrive
  • How do they pass your training – Is there a test or is attendance all they need
  • What was on before your session – If the participants have just sat through 2 hours of presentations they will be in a different mood compared to if they have just arrived
  • How long is your session – If it is less than 1 hour they will be much more upbeat coming into it than if they know your training session is 3 days
  • What mind set do you want to achieve – Do you just want everyone to relax or do you want them thinking in a certain way. You can use ice breakers to get people thinking about a topic that is relevant to your session

If they have been sat through hours of presentations then an ice breaker that gets them off their feet and active is probably needed. If they have been in a really tense meeting then something light-hearted will lower the stress levels. If they are all strangers then something that makes them interact is always a great way to get people talking to each other.

Ice Breakers For Training Sessions
Ice Breakers For Training Sessions

Remember that Ice breakers aren’t for filling time, they are used to get everyone in a relaxed frame of mind that is ideal for engaging and learning. This should be your goal if you want people to enjoy your session and for it to be productive.

Best Ice Breakers For Training Sessions

Every group is unique, so don’t be completely surprised if one ice breaker works perfectly for one group but dies a death with another group. That’s why I’m going to share a selection of ice breakers, ensuring there’s something for every type of training session and I would suggest that you try them out in different scenarios and see which ones work best for you. There are a lot of variations and some are quite similar so you can tweak them to fit your group or topic.

Ice Breakers For Shorter Training Sessions

If your Training Session is between 1 and 4 hours you probably don’t want to invest a lot of time into an Ice Breaker – the ones below are suitable for shorter training sessions as well:

  1. Word Association:
    • Say a word related to the presentation topic, and participants respond with the first word that comes to mind. This can spark creativity and connections.
  2. Rapid Fire Questions:
    • Ask participants a series of quick-fire questions related to the presentation topic to get them thinking and engaged.
  3. The Question Hat:
    • Pass around a hat filled with questions related to the presentation topic. Participants take turns drawing questions and answering them.
  4. Two Truths and a Lie:
    • Participants share two true statements and one false statement about themselves. Others try to guess the lie.
  5. Snowball Fight:
    • Participants write a fun fact about themselves on a piece of paper, crumple it into a “snowball,” and have a snowball fight. Afterward, each person picks up a snowball and shares what’s written on it while others try to figure out who wrote it
  6. Interview Introductions:
    • Pair participants up and have them interview each other, then introduce their partner to the group.
  7. Human Bingo:
    • Create bingo cards with different characteristics or experiences. Participants mingle to find people who match the descriptions and fill out their bingo cards. Example – “Have met someone famous”
  8. Desert Island:
    • Ask participants to choose three items they would bring to a desert island and explain why. This reveals insights into their personalities and priorities.
  9. Would You Rather?
    • Present participants with pairs of choices related to the presentation topic and ask them to choose which they prefer and why.
  10. Line-Up Game:
    • Ask participants to line up in a certain order based on criteria related to the presentation topic (e.g., years of experience, favorite aspect).
  11. Mind Mapping:
    • Ask participants to create a mind map related to the presentation topic, connecting ideas and concepts.
  12. Top Three Lists:
    • Ask participants to make lists of their top three priorities, challenges, or goals related to the meeting topic and share them with the group.

Ice Breakers For Longer Training Sessions

The following really work best with longer training sessions (1 or more full days) as they are a great way to really get to know each other and can also be used throughout the session to break things up rather than just at the beginning:

  1. Speed Networking:
    • Participants have a limited time (e.g., 3 minutes) to introduce themselves and discuss a specific topic with a partner before rotating.
  2. Photo Sharing:
    • Ask participants to bring or share a photo related to a specific topic. This can lead to interesting discussions and connections.
  3. Famous Pairs:
    • Write down pairs of famous people or objects (e.g., Batman and Robin). Participants find their match and discuss why they chose that pair.
  4. Story Time:
    • Invite participants to share a short story related to the presentation topic or a specific theme.
  5. The Marshmallow Challenge:
    • Give teams of participants limited materials (e.g., spaghetti, tape, string) and challenge them to build the tallest freestanding structure that can support a marshmallow on top.
  6. Finish the Sentence:
    • Provide a sentence starter related to the presentation topic, and participants complete the sentence in their own words.
  7. The Memory Wall:
    • Create a virtual or physical “memory wall” where participants can share memories or reflections related to the presentation topic.
  8. Role Reversal:
    • Have participants pair up and role-play switching roles (e.g., manager and team member) to gain different perspectives.
  9. Memory Lane:
    • Ask participants to share a memorable learning experience. This helps set a positive context for the training session.
  10. Common Ground:
    • Identify commonalities among participants and group them accordingly. This can be based on hobbies, interests, or experiences.
  11. Object Introductions:
    • Participants bring an object that represents them or their work. They introduce themselves through the object.
  12. Personal Branding Exercise:
    • Have participants create a personal branding statement that reflects their skills, values, and goals.
  13. Team Scavenger Hunt:
    • Divide participants into teams and give them a list of items or tasks related to the training session to find or complete.
  14. Self-Introduction Timeline:
    • Ask participants to create a timeline of their life or career and share it with the group.
  15. Values Alignment:
    • Have participants identify their core values and discuss how they align with the goals of the training session.
  16. Strengths and Weaknesses Discussion:
    • Facilitate a discussion where participants share their strengths and weaknesses related to the training topic.
  17. Blindfolded Maze:
    • Set up a maze or obstacle course and have participants guide each other through it blindfolded, emphasizing communication and teamwork.
  18. The Perfect Square:
    • Divide participants into teams and challenge them to create a perfect square using a rope or string without speaking.
  19. Decision Matrix:
    • Present participants with a decision-making scenario related to the training content and have them create a decision matrix to evaluate options.
  20. Team Charter Creation:
    • Have participants work together to create a team charter that outlines goals, roles, communication norms, and expectations.
  21. SWOT Analysis Game:
    • Divide participants into teams and have them conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of a given scenario.
  22. Case Study Analysis:
    • Present participants with a case study related to the training content and facilitate a discussion on possible solutions and strategies.
  23. Role-Playing Scenarios:
    • Create role-playing scenarios based on common challenges or situations related to the training topic and have participants act them out.
  24. Peer Coaching:
    • Pair participants up and have them take turns coaching each other on a specific skill or aspect of the training content.
  25. Group Problem Solving:
    • Present participants with a problem or challenge related to the training content and have them work together to find a solution.

Ice Breakers Are Just The Start

Ice Breakers are a fantastic tool for setting the right tone for your training session and getting everyone in the right frame of mind to engage and learn, but what you do next is just as important. It’s about keeping that initial spark of engagement alive and transforming it into a consistent flame that lights up the entire session.

Integrating ice breakers into the core training material can be a real game-changer. It’s a bit like a story you lead with the intriguing opening—the ice breaker—and then smoothly transition into the more structured part of your training. During the session keep an eye on the room to see how people are engaging and what the energy levels are like. If people open and communicative after the ice breaker then that’s the sign you’re looking for. It means they’re warmed up for the journey ahead. But it’s not just about observation—it’s about reaction too. If the energy dips, be ready to adapt and maybe introduce another short but relevant ice breaker to re-energize the room and keep your session on track.

Ice Breakers For Training Sessions

Lastly, how do you know if your ice breaker was really effective? It’s in the results. Ask for feedback from the participants and then evaluate it to see where you can improve or what worked well. Asking for direct feedback at the end is the best way to gain insights for future improvements and I find it is best to have a feedback form prepared to handout at the end of the session.

Two of the most common questions I get asked about training sessions are: What equipment do I need and How can I create a good presentation? If you would like more information on either of these you can read my post on Creative Presentation Ideas and Equipment Needed for Presentations.

Hopefully this will help you to make your training sessions as successful as possible and if you have any ideas or feedback please leave a comment below


2 thoughts on “Ice Breakers For Training Sessions”

  1. Thank you for this comprehensive guide on incorporating ice breakers into training sessions! As someone who facilitates training sessions regularly, I couldn’t agree more with the importance of setting the right tone from the start to ensure maximum engagement and learning.

    The breakdown of ice breakers for both shorter and longer training sessions is incredibly helpful. I appreciate how you’ve taken into account factors like the participants’ familiarity with each other, the session’s duration, and the desired mindset to be achieved. It’s evident that thoughtful selection of ice breakers can significantly impact the overall effectiveness of the training.

    I particularly resonate with the idea of integrating ice breakers into the core training material, akin to leading with an intriguing opening in a story. This approach not only sustains the initial engagement sparked by the ice breaker but also seamlessly transitions into the structured part of the session.

    Furthermore, your emphasis on flexibility and adaptation based on the room’s energy levels is spot on. Ice breakers serve as invaluable tools for re-energizing the room and keeping the session on track, especially if there’s a noticeable dip in energy.

    Lastly, I appreciate the reminder about seeking feedback from participants to evaluate the effectiveness of the ice breakers and the overall session. Continuous improvement is key, and feedback serves as a valuable source of insights for future enhancements.

    Thank you for sharing these insightful tips and strategies for incorporating ice breakers into training sessions. I look forward to implementing them in my future sessions and witnessing the positive impact they have on participant engagement and learning outcomes.

    • Hi Tracie and thank you for your feedback, I initially decided to write this post after experiencing the affect Ice Breakers can have first hand but I have to say I was amazed at how many different ones there are once I started looking into them. My favourite new one that I am going to try is the snowball fight, which ones did you like best?

      Thanks again for your really thoughtful feedback as it is much appreciated



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