Icebreakers—as the name suggests—are meant to “break the ice” in a workshop environment and are generally fun “getting to know you” games and activities. They support participants become more familiar with their workshop leader, their workshop group and the workshop environment and if facilitated the right way, then this results in participants engaging in the workshop more and learning better.

Below are five simple, yet effective Icebreakers that can be used with minimal preparation and can result in participants having a fun whist engaging and getting to know each other a little more.

As a general rule, the things to consider when using Ice Breakers are;

  1. The Mobility Of Your Participants. Choose ice breakers that will not leave participants with mobility barriers out.
  2. Language barriers. Be aware of what everyone’s first language is or avoid using big technical words.
  3. Physical Touching. Try avoiding activities that require participants to touch each other (as much as possible).
  4. Simplicity. The less instructions, the better.

1. Topics For Treats

  1. Prepare a bowl of sweets/fun-size chocolate bars. For each type/colour of sweet/chocolate write up a list of questions/statements on the flip chart. For example:
    • Green – Favourite movie and why
    • Yellow – Last book you read and what you thought of it
    • Orange – The place in the world you would most like to visit and why
    • Purple – Something about where you grew up

(The topics can be adapted to absolutely anything – depending on how well the group know each other, and whether you want to make the exercise directly related to the content of the session or not)

  1. Hide the flip chart and pass round the bowl, just asking each delegate to take one from the bowl. (You could ask them to take more than one depending on what you want them to talk about).
  2. Reveal the flip chart and ask them to talk about their ‘chosen’ topic.

It could also be used for non-edible giveaways too.

2. Two Truths, One Lie

  1. Ask participants to write two truths and one lie on a piece of A4 paper, then fold the paper and drop it into a box, bucket or bin.
  2. Each delegate then pulls out a piece of paper and reads the two truths and one lie written on it.
  3. The rest of the group then has to guess who wrote it, and which is the lie.
  4. I tend to ask the group to write down information that no-one else knows about them, something unusual, out of the ordinary.

It’s great fun, easy to run, no prep and great for getting people to think a little more creatively!

3. The Rename Game

Ask participants to rename themselves:

  1. Their first name becomes the name of their pet, or family pet if they don’t have one
  2. Second name comes from the name of their house or street.

I’d be Mufassa Lee. Well it’s a bit different.

But for the two topics, you can choose anything, in the past I’ve used is first name as the brand of their mobile phone or any tech they have at home matched with their favorite crisps. For myself, this was Apple Doritos… I suppose I could be responsible for the new flavour

Most two topics work as long as it results in participants having a great laugh.

4. Guess My Past

  1. Ask delegates to write down, on a slip of paper an interesting thing that has happened to them in the past.
  2. Collect all these in a bowl
  3. Take them out one by one and participants to guess what happened to who.

5. Word Association

  1. Get participants in a circle
  2. Pass a word round in one direction, any word
  3. The next person has to say the first word that comes into their head without thinking, right or wrong.

So for example one I Said picnic, the next person said basket, the next, shopping, then Asda, green, grass, cow, sheep, wool, bed, dreams, ambitions…. So on and so forth

Final Thoughts

These are just 5 simple icebreakers that I have used in the past when not only resources, time and preparation were limited but also when I felt it suitable for the environment and group. Use one in your next workshop and let us know how it went by leaving a comment.

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