Ice Breakers for Training Courses

Breaking the ice

We all know that awkwardness you find at the start of a training session, where people are checking each other out and wondering how to get to know each other. A good facilitator will incorporate some form of “ice-breaker” to kick off the session.

The ice-breaker will give people an opportunity to learn something about each other and it will help to energise folks and get everyone relaxed in a non-threatening way.

Here are 10 ice-breakers:

1. Finish the sentence

Put some incomplete sentences on the whiteboard or flipchart. Go around the room and ask each person to complete one of the sentences. Some example sentences might be:

  • The best job I ever had was...
  • The worst project I ever worked on was...
  • The riskiest thing I ever did was...
  • My dream job would be…..

2. Liar Liar!

Get each person in the room to tell the class three ‘facts’ about themselves, but one of these ‘facts’ must be a lie. The rest of the people in the room must then vote for which one is the lie.

3. Moments in Time

Put out a bunch of small denomination coins onto the table and have each person take one coin. Get everyone to check out the date on the coin – the year it was minted.

Ask everyone to think about that year and what they were doing (were they born, were they in school, where did they work, what was going on in their lives, etc). (Allow people to select a new coin of they have one with a date that is older then themselves or if they’d prefer not to discuss their life during that year.)

Allow everyone two minutes to remember their life during the year that is on their coin. Then the game begins.

The object of the game is to try to end up with the oldest coin in the room. Everyone must find someone with a coin that was minted at least two years before or after theirs. Take 2-3 minutes with that person to tell each other about those moments in your lives.

When you are finished, each person in the pair flips their coin. If they match (both heads or both tails) exchange them, if not, keep your original coin

Repeat the process with a new partner (if you have exchanged coins and your coin is now older than you or a year you do not like, then you can stick to telling your next partner your original memory of the date from your original coin).

After 10 mins, stop the game and see who now hold the oldest coin in the room. Give a small prize to that person (e.g. a candy bar).

4. Where in the World

Have a large map on the wall. Ask people to put a pin or sticky note onto the map to represent something for them. This could be:

  • Where they had their best holiday
  • Where they were born
  • Where they live now
  • Where they would most like to go
  • Etc

When everyone is done, ask each person in turn to briefly explain the importance of the location they chose.

5. Nutty Names

Introduce yourself to the group with a sentence based upon the first letter of your name and using the following format:

I'm ADJECTIVE NAME. I like ACTION-ing NOUN

For example:

"I'm magnificent Megan. I like making money."


Participants then introduce themselves to the group with their sentences. (Allow them to use their middle or last name if that is easier for them.)

"I’m big Bill. I like biting burgers."

"I’m helpful Hermione. I like having horses."

6. Autograph Hunt

Give everyone a sheet of paper with various traits listed on it. The aim of the game is to find someone in the room who fits each trait and get their autograph beside that trait. Each person can sign any sheet only once.

Here are some examples of traits you could use:

  • Likes spinach _____________
  • Goes to the gym every day ______________
  • Has been to a fortune teller ______________
  • Speaks another language _______________
  • Has flown in the past 30 days____________

7. Who am I?

The facilitator tapes the name of a famous person on the back of each person (e.g. Marilyn Monroe, Barack Obama, Julia Roberts, etc.) The person cannot be allowed to see who is taped to their back. Their task is to find out who they are.

The participants move about the room asking others yes/no questions. If the person receives a “yes” answer, they can continue to ask that individual questions until they receive a “no” answer. Then they must continue on to ask someone else.

When a person figures out who they are, they take off the tag, put it on the front of their shirt, and write their own name on it. They can then help others to find out who they are.

8. Little Know Fact

Go around the room asking each participant in turn to share their name, company, role in the organization, length of service, and one little known fact about themselves

This "little known fact" becomes the humanizing element that can help break down differences such as grade / status in future interactions.

9. A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

Pair off the participants. Ask each person to draw a picture without showing the other person. They then have to describe the picture to the other person who has to make an exact copy - without being able to see it. All of the instructions have to be made verbally – no hand gestures.

If they are struggling, let them have a brief glimpse of the picture – it is surprising how easy it then becomes to draw the picture. A picture certainly does speak a thousand words.

10. Desert Island

Divide the class into small groups of 3 or 4. Ask them to come up with a list of 3 or 4 items they would bring to a desert island if they knew they would be marooned there

Have each team then write their items on a flip chart and 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 teamwork.

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