icebreakers
icebreakers

Icebreakers

(EYEs-bray-kerz)

radioactive elements

Radioactive

What is an Icebreaker?

An icebreaker is an activity designed to help participants learn more about one another, the presenter, or the topic.

Other Common Names

Other common names for dialogue education include:

  • Anchor activity
  • Intro activity

Key Properties

While the mere mention of icebreakers can make learners want to run for the door, this is an element that can mean many things to many people, and has some appealing core properties:

  • Allow learners to get to know one another
  • Remove tension or discomfort around being in a new environment or learning a new topic

 

An additional property for icebreakers in a virtual environment (such as for webinars or virtual instructor-led training) is that they introduce people to the technology that will be used during the session (such as the chat feature, polling feature, or on-screen drawing tools).

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Some charged statements from Brian's book What's Your Formula

Whats Your Formula book
Order your copy to learn more about icebreakers and all of the related elements.

CLOSELY RELATED ELEMENTS

audience response systemsAudience Response

Especially when you are working with larger audiences or classroom-style seating—where it becomes harder to break the ice through more traditional means—incorporating technology and audience response polling can be a quick way to introduce a topic and get energy flowing in the room. For virtual presentations, the polling feature would be equivalent to a classroom-based software tool like PollEverywhere.

quiz softwareQuiz Software

Similar to audience response applications, integrating quiz technology such as Kahoot can help you survey what your audience knows about a topic, introduce friendly competition, and generate some energy.

flipchartFlipchart

Having your learners record key information about themselves on a flipchart during the icebreaker and then posting that page around the room allows the information to remain visible for the duration of your session. If you’ve asked your learners to capture information about them that also relates to your topic, you can also refer back to what they’ve written throughout the session.

gamesGames

A quick game such as those mentioned earlier—passing the tennis ball or BINGO—can help boost the energy and warm up your learners. Take care to make sure there is a proper debrief to connect any game you play to the session topic.

goal settingGoal Setting

Some icebreakers can be as simple as “Tell everyone your name, where you’re from, and one thing you’d like to be able to do now or differently or better as a result of today’s session.”