8 Awesome Icebreakers for Facilitators
Here are a few icebreakers that you might like to try with a corporate team or any group of adults either at the start of the training or after a break in the session to help re-energise and engage the participants.
The Desert Island icebreaker is a simple and quick team building activity that helps people share a little about themselves. Given the scenario that everyone is lost and stranded on a desert island, each person describes one object that they would bring and why.
Each person is asked to respond to the hypothetical question: "If you could have any human being, living or dead, over for dinner, who would you choose?" Further to this, ask them to explain why — of all the possible choices in the world and through the history of the ages — why that person? And what would be discussed?
Another hypothetical icebreaker, which is good for stretching the imagination and getting to know things about people that might be unexpected. Each person is asked to assume they have discovered a time machine capable of transporting them back to any point in history, but it only has enough power for one trip and they can't stay any longer than 1 hour (and they can't interact with anything in the timeline). Ask them to describe when and where they would choose. Would they want to witness a recent historic event? A scientific discovery? An ancient battle? Or just walk around the earth millions of years ago to see what life was like?
The first person starts by providing a single word and the job of the next person in the group is to add any word that will keep the story going. For example:
- Person 1: “Dinosaurs …”
- Person 2: “… were …”
- Person 3: "… creatures …"
- Person 4: "… that …"
- Person 5: "… lived …"
- Person 6: "… but …"
- Person 7: "… then …"
- Person 8: "… suddenly …"
- Person 9: "… stopped …"
- Person 10: "… living …"
- Person 11: "… because …"
The key to this game is to try to make a coherent story by accepting each word as it is provided, rolling with it, and utilising the words "and," "but," "because," and "however" to get out of dead ends. The game requires the story to continue as long as possible (or until the facilitator feels that the group has got the hang of it and is mentally warmed-up). To keep things moving or just to raise the difficulty level, only allow 1-2 seconds for each person to come up with the word.
This is a more challenging variation of "Word Link." The first person starts the game by saying “Once upon a time …” and the next person’s job in the circle is to add exactly two (2) words to the sentence to keep the story going for as long as possible. For example:
- Person 1: “Once upon a time …”
- Person 2: “… there was …”
- Person 3: "… a farmer …"
- Person 4: "… from Spain …"
- Person 5: "… who sold …"
- Person 6: "… red apples …"
- Person 7: "… but discovered …"
- Person 8: "… his apples …"
- Person 9: "… were actually …"
Adding exactly 2 words can get quite tricky once the story gets going, which makes this game a vocabulary challenge as much as it is a creative thinking challenge.
This interactive activity is designed to push participants a little out of their comfort zones and can be used as a link to your training topic (i.e. in order to improve, they might first feel a little uncomfortable).
One by one, ask participants to come to the front of the room and have a fellow participant (or you as the facilitator) assign them a topic from the list provided. Each participant will be required to speak for 1 minute on the topic they have been assigned with no time to prepare.
A point to highlight is that each participant must continue talking for the entire minute, no matter how silly they may feel.
- Easier Topics:
- Fast Food
- Video Games
- Face Painting
- The joy of being upside down
- 1kg of sand
- A cheese house
- Miniature engineering
- Imaginary friends
- Classical music
- The evil eye
- Sleep walking
- Running for cover
- Talking animals
- Car pooling
This activity has been designed as a simple conversation starter to give participants an opportunity to pick an item and provide rationale for their choice. It helps participants to have a little fun, while selling their ideas.
For the “This vs. That” activity, have the participants circle the item they would choose in each set as well as the reason for their choice. For example, with Ice vs Snow someone might circle ice because they can put it in their drink, whereas someone else might choose snow because they like skiing.
- Cats vs. Dogs
- Ice vs. Snow
- Action vs. Romance
- Quality vs. Quantity
- Big vs. Small
- Books vs. TV
- Walking vs. Running
Similarly for "Choices,” have the participants decide between 2 options. For example, participants will circle "Wrestle a Lion" (instead of "Wrestle a Crocodile") and identify the reason for their choice. As the facilitator, you can run a discussion around what values people use for basing their decisions.
Client Services Manager, Writer & Researcher. Theo is one of the youngest professionals in the world to earn an accreditation in TTI Success Insight's suite of psychometric assessments. For more than a decade, he worked with hundreds of HR, L&D and OD professionals and consultants to improve engagement, performance and emotional intelligence of leaders and their teams. He authored the book "40 Must-Know Business Models for People Leaders."
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