The right icebreaker can help you engage your participants and set the tone for interaction throughout your training session. When used during introductions, they can help put attendees at ease and create feelings of familiarity, especially for those who are new to an online learning environment.
You can also use an icebreaker to segue to a new topic or lesson.
Choosing an Icebreaker
Before you choose an icebreaker, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are your goals for the icebreaker?
Determine what you want to accomplish with the icebreaker, then pick one that meets that goal.
- Who is your audience?
If everyone already knows each other, an introductory icebreaker will just take up time.
- Is the icebreaker connected to its purpose?
If the goal of the icebreaker is to have people introduce themselves, be sure to use one that requires them to do that.
Tell participants that for the next 5 minutes (more or less) they are fortune cookie writers. At the end of the allotted time, call on each participants to read the fortune he or she has written. If this is done as an introductory exercise, have participants introduce themselves as they read the fortune they have written.
- Hi, I'm Jill Parker. The fortune I've written for you is, "You will enjoy an incredible training experience."
When all the fortunes have been read, ask participants if they knew that the best Chinese restaurants always serve one more fortune cookie than there are people at the table, because everyone should choose their own fortune.
Ask participants to share their most embarrassing mistake using a computer, or a smartphone or other mobile device. Share your own experience.
Would You Rather...
- Have training participants respond to one of these questions--or come up with one of your own.
- Would you rather give up your computer or your pet?
- Would you rather live your life as a dog or a cat?
- Would rather spend a day surfing the internet or the ocean?
- Would you rather be able to fly or read people's minds?
- Would you rather be unable to use your phone or your email?
Two Lies and a Truth
Ask participants to list three interesting things about themselves. Two must be lies and one must be true. Have participants guess which interesting thing is a lie.
- I've hitchhiked across Europe twice; I'm a gourmet cook; and I once met Clint Eastwood.
These kinds of icebreakers are useful for groups of people of diverse ages and ethnicities.
- Ask participants to list three major world events that happened the year they were born, then have other participants guess the year.
- Look at the date on coin from your pocket and ask training participants to list two things they did that year.
Where in the World
Ask participants to name the place where they grew up and tell the best (or worst) thing about it.
Share a map of the world or nation and ask participants to indicate their current location with their pointer tool. Then, ask each person to share a fun fact about their location.
Ask participants to describe themselves using just three words.
Finish the Sentence
Ask participants to complete a sentence like one of the following:
- The best job I ever had was...
- The worst project I ever worked on was...
- The best training I ever attended was great because...
Icebreakers, Games and Fun Group Activities (http://www.icebreakers.ws/) has some good icebreaker suggestions sorted by group size.