Intros and Icebreakers for Amazing Training Sessions
Intros and Icebreakers for Amazing Training Sessions

Intros and Icebreakers for Amazing Training Sessions



First impressions matter whether you’re walking into a social gala or beginning a new training seminar. How you open your learning event will set expectations and establish a tone for the whole session. In the first few minutes, participants are evaluating how much they think they’ll get out of the training, as well as how much effort they’ll put in themselves.

Refresh your approach to introductions and icebreakers, by exploring a range of techniques to draw participants in, instill trust, set expectations, build camaraderie, and prime your group for participatory learning.

Understand how to use time wisely and avoid the common pitfalls that put participants on guard. In this highly interactive session, you’ll learn and exchange favorite approaches for setting the groundwork for lively learning events, whether live or online.

Attendees will learn

  • Understand and balance the range of goals for session openers
  • Differentiate time-wasting icebreakers from important session-starters
  • Help participants build connections with the content and other learners
  • Develop ways to build psychological safety nets to support learning
  • Pick the perfect openers to start your session 


Susan Doctoroff Landay is the President of Trainer’s Warehouse. She joined her father in 1997, in what was then a fledgling business. Prior to that, Sue spent two and half years consulting and training in the field of negotiation and another two years marketing a business history consulting company. She graduated from Yale College (BA in 1986), the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University (MBA in 1992), and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College (MFA in 1987). Susan values blending humor and professionalism to enhance training.


Intros and Icebreakers for Amazing Training Sessions
Trainers Warehouse

We offer hundreds of fun and effective products for trainers and educators across all industries. Established in 1990, Trainers Warehouse is a woman-owned, family-operated business that develops exclusive new products and searches the world for the best tools to help trainers achieve their goals. Popular products that improve retention and make training more engaging include game show templates, icebreakers, team-building games, and more!

Learn more about Trainers Warehouse >>

On-Demand Webinar Recording

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Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, Intros and Ice Breakers for Amazing Training Sessions, hosted by HRDQ-U and presented by Susan Landay.
My name is Sarah, and I will moderate today’s webinar. The webinar will last around one hour. If you have any questions or comments, please type them into the question area on your GoToWebinar control panel. We’ll be using that questions box very frequently, throughout today’s session.
So if you want to type in Hello, Hi, where you’re coming from. Find that questions box there. So you can get that ready.
And you can also download today’s handout, it’s under the Handouts drop-down on your control panel.
Alrighty, and today’s webinar is brought to you by HRDQstore and Trainers Warehouse, Interactive Training Games Make Learning Fun, and they are a powerful way to develop key skills to succeed in the workplace.
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And today’s Webinar is presented by Susan Landay, Susan is the President of Trainers Warehouse. She joined her father in 1997 in what was then a fledgling business.
Prior to that, Sue spent 2.5 years consulting and training in the field of negotiation and another two years at marketing, a business history consulting company.
She graduated from Yale College and continued her education at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at north-western University.
And she’s also went to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College as well.
Susan values, humor, and professionalism, and to enhance training. Thank you for joining us today, Susan. And you’ll have a little bit about your clown college experience. Well, I think we’ll get into not very much of that, but maybe a little bit. So, let’s hi, everybody. I’m so glad to be with all of you here today. Want to start with a quick question, because Sarah just introduced me as having only a couple of years of training experience. And I’m curious, with all of you, how much? How long have you been training? How long have you been a train or a teacher facilitator?
And I, the poll is open, as you can see, and I’m already seeing the results pop up.
And you all have way more experience than I do. And we’re going to make a point of this as we go along and talk more about intros and icebreakers.
Because this is an important kind of piece of what we’re going to talk about here.
So, yes.
It looks like so, 44% Oh, can we show the results now, Sarah?
Yes, we have those results up on screen, OK, sorry, I’m still new at this. I’m not exactly sure what you guys are seeing, and what I’m saying, but like, OK, so 44% of you have 10 plus years of experience, and, you, know, then a quarter of us are still new, so hopefully we’ll be able to tease out a little bit for, for everybody.
Um, Sarah introduced a bit about my background and yes, my my time as a trainer was sandwiched between my being a clown with Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus where I did perform. And however, I have been wearing the, that been at the Helm of Trainers Warehouse for over 25 years now, and in that role I’ve been creating products for trainers and tools that make learning and training, more interactive, memorable and fun.
So, hopefully, we can put some of that learning to work here, as we think about our intros and and icebreakers. So, you asked for a little, a little bit of Clown College. one of the things that’s kind of a tradition in the clowning world is it’s called Come in.
And it happens at the beginning of the of the circus, I don’t know if you’ve been to the circus recently, actually. They stopped doing shows. So it couldn’t have been that recently.
But the tradition is that clowns will come in while the audience is getting seated, and they’ll walk around. They’ll greet. They’ll say hello, not too different from what we’ll do as trainers at the beginning of training. Well, people are are getting seated and so forth.
Um, but we also needed to have what’s called a Walk around or GAD and it’s like this instant site funny, funny Gack!
So as an example, there is you might see like a person, a clown dressed up as a hot dog, bending or settling, like little, little vendor people.
So, instead of get your hot dog here, sketch your vendor here. So, that’s just an example. So in Clown College, we were supposed to try to come up with an idea for a walk around. And, every time I came up with idea thinking, I’ve got one, I’ve got one now. I was met by, is that funny? Why is that funny?
And so, I kept trying and trying and while I was at Clown College, it didn’t matter.
But then, I was lucky enough to get a job at Disneyland in California during their circus fantasy event. And they said, OK, but you need to walk around. And so, I try it again.
And, finally, I came up with an idea, now, OK, this is a lousy picture, because it’s problem back in 19 87, But there I am with my walk around, which is my paid picnic basket and a whole trail of ants walking up to it.
And I have to say, when I started that little gig, I probably had like five ants crawling crawling up to the picnic basket.
But they started to kind of fall apart.
So this became a learning experience for me in a multitude of ways, not just learning that. I’m really not that funny, even though I was a Clown.
And not in learning what kinds of glue can hold together, Little belt, no phone balls, and and no Rods to make, and what was more important was the appreciation of the importance of creating a welcoming environment, come in A setting the stage for the experience that you want people to have. And that’s how it was in the circus, and that’s how it is in training, too.
Um, so want to give you a little expectations. Set your expectations a little bit about what the next 40 or so minutes are gonna look like.
And, so, what we’re going to do is we’re going to talk a little bit more deeply about goals, how to build credibility and trust.
Quickly, we’re going to set some expectations, um, and focused on how we can use interesting icebreakers to create connections with each other and with the material. And then we’ll move on to some specifics and choosing specific icebreakers that may work for your specific needs.
OK, so now I’m going to pause, because that was my intro, all right, and I’d like to use that questions box that we have to have a little input from you guys on.
And What worked? What did we accomplished so far? What did I miss?
And I didn’t say this earlier, but because you guys have so much experience, and I want to make sure I pull out your experiences, what you’ve seen work, so that others can learn from your experiences as well. And I’m also, so this is going to be participatory. Get those fingers ready. And I’m also gonna call on Sarah to help me out a little bit in kind of pulling out the contributions that you’re able to share.
So, please do in the question, pull out, for me what you’ve seen in that quick intro, what worked, what might you do differently if you were trying to create a really strong introduction.
Oh, I was so perfect that you just don’t know what to write this panel, I don’t think that’s it, I’ll give it a second.
Share what, I thought, what I was trying to do.
We have some responses coming in there, that’s great. Keep putting those in that questions box.
All right, OK, so feeling a connection to me based on the story. So, yes, building connections, both personally with the trainer.
and with one another, honesty is also kind of coming out as a theme here, and I guess just kind of being real, being yourself.
Um, engaging quickly with the audience through a poll, capturing attention, um, personalizing your story to your content.
Excellent. The picture of me and my clown picture. Well, you had both now. The clown picture and the professional picture.
And, yes, that idea of of admitting that I’m not an expert, and and using that as part of it’s part of what the goals are for a session.
Sarah, anything else, kind of jumping out to you here?
Let’s see, we also had acknowledging you aren’t the experts and being genuine about that.
That’s from Holly.
I’d see intriguing to see here.
I think we, I think we got a nice, nice covering.
There’s also no trying hard to make sure that making you part of the learning experience.
So, I’m seeing, I’m seeing my role, not just as communicating information, but as facilitating your learning, and helping you learn.
And whether that means, you know, sharing information, or having you reflect on your own experiences, either in the classroom or participating here. That’s my goal, is to draw out your learning, and kind of have you be in charge of it.
So, I’ve shared some of my, my vulnerability and honesty and transparency, as you’ve seen, but let me ask you guys another question.
And that is, what is your greatest challenge when you’re beginning a new training event?
No, I know that we all sort of have jitters.
I think Also for me I appreciate that when I’m creating brand new content, Um, No. I think twice about how am I putting this together? Is it gonna resonate with you? Is this what you’re looking for? Am I delivering? what I promised in the in the introduction?
But, you know, I I guess I have a whole lot. When at the beginning of a new of a new event, I’m just going to take a glance down and see what your challenges are.
Confidence, meeting expectations.
Do I know the material well enough?
Removing the distractions and phones.
Keeping people’s attention. Managing the time, Absolutely.
Having answers to anticipated questions, reading the room. So, some of these aren’t just, it’s about like, the whole session, because when we start, we’re not, we’re thinking about that intro.
We’re thinking about setting expectations, and goals, and, and awareness, but we’re also kind of, we know, that we’re setting up for the whole rest of the time to come.
And so I think that we bring that anticipation, and those fears to the whole experience.
Another interesting one here from tea. As she said, battling the fatigue in the room.
And here we are at two o’clock, right after lunch at that very time.
When that often happens, Absolutely.
You kinda have to be on your game.
Um, I had one person, say, When I actually did this, also, I’ve had one person say like, To do the Amy Cutty, like, Raise your arms up at the beginning of a presentation Just to kind of do your power pose. And I was also once in a yoga class, and they said, OK, if you ever have to do presentation, go upside down, like, touch your toes and get the blood flowing to your head. And I have to admit, I did that also.
So, as we were still kind of, in, Thank you all for those, those contributions. That helps me kind of understand, also where people’s heads are.
As I get started, and I think about expectations and loops and about what we’re trying to accomplish here.
I know also that there’s a little bit of an elephant in the room, And, actually, Sarah, I added the picture from, from the, you know, that, that interest an icebreaker, splash screen to here, because Sarah will attest when I first saw that.
I said, Oh, I’m not sure I like that picture, like no icebreakers. My whole fear about them in the whole reason why I want to do this presentation is because I don’t want to put people in a situation where they’re doing things that makes that make them feel kind of goofy or uncomfortable.
And, so, Sarah, can you go to our second poll?
Yes, we have that poll launched now, OK.
So, so when I saw that, I was like, oh, no, Because I kinda feel like there’s, that, that word icebreaker can be kind of polarizing, and yes, there are some people who feel excited. and I should have been a specific about how you feel when someone says, you know, when you’re the one saying, let’s, you know, you’re going to be part of an icebreaker versus how you feel as a as a participant. So do you feel differently if you’re the one conducting it or not?
So, oh, this is good.
I thought actually more people would be, would be dreading the ice breaker.
Because it kind of, you know, it can make you feel a little uncomfortable.
But I guess, um, then no, you think we’re good on results Now, Sarah?
Yes, you had those results up on the screen. OK, Knows if need be: So, So 42% feel excited about it.
But that leaves, If my Math is right, 58% who aren’t quite so sure who come to it either thinking, Oh, my gosh, Is this going to waste my time? I feel kind of uncomfortable about this. What are they going to make me? Do they feel like they might be one of these people in the inches in icebreakers who has to pretend that they’re having fun, maybe these people are, but those are kind of my worries about it.
Um, I’m seeing in some of the comments. I avoid the ice breaker if I can.
Um, I avoid the term icebreaker.
Some icebreakers are not well thought out.
So, basically, I think that one of our challenges when we think about, know, intros, icebreaker, starter’s, openers, whatever we call them, is that we may be facing people who aren’t so comfortable with it.
So, I think it’s really important when we do and this is going to be a theme, my, you know, draw our entire time together here, of being really transparent about why you’re doing something.
So, yes, you might call it something else. Whatever you call it.
You might say, No, I want to do this because it’s important for us To get to know each other I want you to be able to open your minds to some new thinking and to doing this I want to push us out of our comfort zone, Whatever it is. You want to explain why you’re doing something so that you can draw people into the experience.
I’ve almost never participated in a well done icebreaker, OK? Hopefully, we can change that, That was from S dev, I’m not sure who that is.
Um, but so this is our goal, is to share our why, to be transparent about our purpose, and not just say, Hey, come on, it’ll be fun, but to have very specific reasons.
So, in this spirit of sharing some specific reasons, I want to give you a little bit of fuel for how you can do this, Now, talking to a lot of pull them on slack.
Lot of trainers, I’m guessing that you’re familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but, just, you know, the quick concept is that, um, people need to have their physiological needs met.
Oh, what did I just do? I guess I can’t press that. No food, water, sleep, before they can even think about higher level needs.
Once those lower level needs are met, food, water, etcetera, then you can kind of move on, too.
Desiring, safety, desiring love and belonging, self actualization, which is where we are when we’re teaching people and when we’re looking for growth.
That’s not going to happen if all of these other needs aren’t met.
So that’s the basic idea of it, but I’ve kind of done my own little adaptation and have replaced those safety in love and belonging.
I’m not sure we’re looking for love in training situations, but I do think people need to deal psychological safety.
And this comes from psychological safety, is this that the need the belief that you won’t be punished if you make a mistake?
And some of the understanding about psychological safety came out of a Google study from 20 12, where they were looking, Google did this huge study to see what contributed to the success of different teams, what was it, like the makeup of the team, who’s part of it, How they function when they meet. They looked at everything with regard to how people work together.
The only thing that they could find that related or that seemed consistently proving the same results were that the teams that felt like they had psychological safety that they could say and do things that they could make mistakes without being punished.
That was what allowed them to take risks.
Now we talk about that because when we’re training people, when we’re doing icebreakers, we want people to feel safe, to take risks, to make mistakes when they’re learning.
Which kind of leads me to overlay that concept with Carol Dweck.
Mind growth, mindset theory.
I think you’re probably pretty familiar with this as well.
The idea here is that, no, we’re not set out. We don’t. we’re not born, either smarter dumb. It’s that we can grow our intelligence.
We can challenge ourselves.
We can make mistakes and learn from them. And this isn’t just about kids in school.
This is also about adults knowing and feeling OK, whether they’re doing a role play, whether they’re trying something new, whether they’re put on the spot to answer a question in class, that they can fail. They can make a mistake. They can say the wrong thing.
And it’ll be OK, and I think that’s setting the tone for that.
When you’re in training and using in chosen icebreakers to send that message is quite powerful. And it’s an important part of the Why do we do this? And something that you can just say This, I’m sharing with you you could share with your learners.
So, I’m going to ask three more questions, and I’m going to tell you why in the spirit of transparency and, And wanting to tell you, know, explain my why.
With these three questions, I want you to think about as you’re answering them, What those prompts make you think of?
Um, Where are you, how we, how you would compare and contrast these three different prompts? What sort of stage they set for your learners?
So after we go through the prompts, We’re going to come back and we’re going to kind of compare and contrast them.
So the first one, I’m leaving quite, quite open, and I’m just asking if you can please introduce yourself and if you’ll write, you know, write your answers, we’ll share a few of them.
Oh, someone’s asked Sarah. Let’s let’s note that question about if you’re not in control of the icebreaker, what do you do that? We could come back to that?
So, I’m seeing names.
And I’m seeing, you know, people are sharing where they’re from.
Um, and a little bit about themselves, I’m in America, living in Canada.
I hate training, but love facilitating. Well, that’s good, because then, if you think of yourself as the facilitator of learning, you’ll, hopefully, you’ll be all set.
Um, yeah, so lots of names and where we’re from, OK, moving on, if you haven’t typed it in, you can keep going.
My next prompt, is this: a sporting event you’d most like to attend and while you’re writing in your answers, I’ll share with you that if I could go back my, my youngest just started college, so I’m a new empty nester or I understand I’m supposed to say a free bird now. But if I could go back and see my son’s play their baseball games, it would make me so happy.
Um, Super Bowl Dallas’ football game, Olympic swimming oh, awesome.
Inch water ski event figure dancing.
At the Olympics, any event in NFL game, Wimbledon, what’s interesting to me about reading these responses is it’s not just what I know what you might like to see.
But it might also tell me about, know your interests in swimming and diving tennis, hockey. Do you play the sport? Do you just want to see it, Et cetera, et cetera?
OK, moving on to my question, Number three, you’ve seen this one before, But I want to think about this question that I started with at the very beginning of our, of our time together, in this context, the greatest challenge when beginning a training event.
So, I told you before that I wanna think about, compare and contrast these three different prompts, so please introduce yourself, a sporting event, You’d like to attend your greatest challenge.
Why? Why would you use one or another? What did they achieve differently?
What makes one better or worse in a given situation or circumstance.
Gonna pause and let you think about that, and collect some responses, because they, this is kind of a key concept here, all prompts are not created equal.
Let’s say low stakes versus high stakes.
Summary, the first one is straightforward and objective.
The second gets more personal.
The third is a lot more tied to the content.
Number three gives purpose to why we’re attending, and it’s much more training focus, so yet, much more tied to content.
three. Number two is casual, and fun. Hashtag three helps trainers know their audience relative to themselves.
They’re all open-ended questions. Absolutely mm. Hmm, hmm.
Number three offers more kind of self disclosure.
There are no wrong answers. Absolutely, Wendi, yep.
Getting a sense of what’s important to your audience.
Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, Sarah, any others that you’re pulling out?
Thank you, you’re pulled out.
All of the good generalization there, I think we have.
And, I think you guys have it.
And I think that the big, the big appreciation, or just kind of, it’s not rocket science, but, um, what you ask and prompts, I should say, are just one way to create an introduction, to create an icebreaker starter and to get people talking and sharing with each other, to start to create connections. But they do it in different ways.
So, if your goal is, it’s a perfectly fine goal, but if your goal is to build community, then asking kind of an easy question, like, you know, what are your favorite sporting events? It’s, it fits that goal and it’s an important one because it starts to build relationships and there’s nothing wrong with it. The Y is building community.
Um, if you want to kind of set the stage asking about goals and wishes and needs and fears is a great way to kind of get people in the right mindset for that experience.
If you want to create psychological safety, and we’ve modeled this and talked about it already a little bit. But asking something about fears and challenges, something that you worry about.
sharing your own, is a way to start to build trust.
Um, and if you really want to get into specific content, whether you’re teaching about, you know, leadership, communication, skills, ethics, diversity, you might want to choose a question that gets more to the heart of those matters.
Now, of course, it’s not just about contents for, or, not, just about, excuse me, the prompt.
It could be any sort of activity and we’re gonna kind of jump over to that shortly. But like, you could build community. Not necessarily through the prompt you’re asking, but having your group like create a table, name, a team name together, and create a sign for that.
You could ask folks to share what they know or share past challenges added and build trust to have a trust game. So it’s not just about the prompt.
But before we move off of prompts onto some other ideas for icebreakers and openers, just a couple of facilitation tips which you guys have already noted. So, I’ll move through these fairly quickly, but the idea of keeping it open ended.
It’s critical.
If you do ask, you know, like a one word answer question or something like that, Make sure you ask why and follow that up so you can kind of get to a richer conversation.
Um, by focusing on experiences, interesting wishes, you’re able to, it’s easier for people to answer those kinds of questions.
So I’ve seen, like, there are so many like, question prompts on the Internet right now, and that sounds really old-fashioned on the Internet, on the web. If you do a Google search for prompts, so, you’ll see a ton of them in. Some of them might ask things. Like, if you could invent one thing, what would it be?
And I look at those, and I’m like, how someone’s supposed to answer that.
People trying to invent things, like, it takes years to come up with an invention.
So, focus on experiences, and things that kind of people already know about themselves.
It’s easier, then, you know, kind of the those other sorts of questions.
You do want to make questions feel safe.
Yeah, Because you don’t want people to feel put on the spot.
And, part of that, like you guys mentioned, is not not thinking of there being a right or wrong answer to your prompt. You want to inspire dialog, and sharing, and you’re going to shut it down, if someone feels like, you know, they might say the wrong thing.
Mixing would, and should prompt questions, is an E.
Is an interesting one to me, because I was thinking about, in, in developing, different products, in question resources.
The idea of, if you’re teaching about bullying or something like that, it would feel really different, if someone said, Well, what? would you do if No. I said, Would you do? So, there’s two kinds of things. in that syntax. It feels really different.
Then, if you were to say, what might someone do, so might is, you know, it’s not a shudder, wouldn’t it’s not you.
So, it sort of opens up the conversation and allows people to, you know, to take a stab and answers without feeling like there is a would or should, or a writer or wrong, this sixth point about balancing reflective and appreciative prompts, so reflective or sort of, that, what we have in number two, like, looking backwards at your experiences.
But if you’re, say, teaching something about leadership or team dynamics, you might want to also ask, how could I better model X, Y, or Z What could I do? It’s those no looking forward. How could I change?
How could I do something differently, and it’s great to have a balance of looking backwards and projecting forward.
OK, enough about prompts, there are so many other different kinds of inches in icebreakers and for me thinking about these in terms of this matrix is really helpful. So, on the bottom, we have time.
How much time is this exercise going to take? And on the vertical axis, we have relevance.
So, and this is part of like the transparency, the trust feeling like. Your time is respected and this facilitator is, is going to use your time for the whole training session wisely.
These opener as these intro activities set the stage. So if you spend a lot of time doing something frivolous, they have this like, Find your shoe.
I’ve seen that as an icebreaker.
Now, that might be a fun party game, but it’s not fun or right or appropriate for your training sessions.
If you are going to do something like that, and you have a good Y, a good reason, a good purpose, that you can articulate.
Do it.
Make sure you explain it and you might want to keep the amount of time you dedicate it, dedicate to it, pardon me, to be relatively short.
Ideally, everything you do in your session should have high relevance, right?
You want to be in those upper quadrants and you may do kind of a quick icebreaker.
Um, uh, and just to sort of have a quick question, get people conversing or you may want to really dive in and set the stage, like with some sort of team building game, um, and, and link that to your content.
I’m going to pause for a second because I see a question about the prior slide from Brent about elaborating on 3 and 4, on making questions feel safe.
I think that part of Anna question about the, find your shoe, so making questions safe, um, really relates to, like I think about some of my colleagues when we’ve come up with.
With like our team, our Team Dynamics, Stumble.
And, you know, we have everyone in our organization look at all of the prompts.
And I’ve had people say, like, Look, so looking at the team dynamics, um, we were talking about a question that, as I recall, it was something like, What would you want to get help with?
And I was thinking, as a manager, No.
Or what would you, what do you not like, Know, what are the tasks to leith least like in your job or something like that?
With the idea that, knowing that maybe someone else really wants to do those tasks, or, uh.
Pardon me.
And the feedback that I got from my employees was, that kinda puts us in an uncomfortable situation. I don’t know that I would want to say that to a boss.
So, the idea of making a question safe is making sure that you’re not putting people in an uncomfortable situation.
So hopefully that, that answers that. And I think the same with inspiring dialog and sharing is, is, you know, similar to one in three of you not open-ended questions, not having right wrong answers.
Making sure that people feel OK about chatting and sharing their thoughts.
OK, Sorry, back to this, We have a couple of questions about finding your shoe.
I think that that people are asked to take off one shoe, throw it into, like, a pile, and then it’s like, the game. Is finding your missing shoe or something like that, again, not one that I would focus on, for our purposes.
Um, and is there a time for around the room intros? Are they useful?
And I’d probably put that out to the group also. I’m sure that there is a time.
I know that when I was in, know, I was on the board of an organization called the MOA, an E tailing and marketing organization. And at their conferences which were fairly small, they did that because they wanted new people. It was a first timer event.
And they wanted people to kind of get a sense of who was in the room, right.
To be honest, they really have mixed feelings about it. Now of course, you know, that was a networking event and not a training learning event. So, you know, I think that those are the right questions to ask. I probably wouldn’t give a definitive answer about it.
I ran, I used to have used around the room intros. This is I’m reading from two Dora. I’ve used them when the group is small and there are people in the room from different departments.
So, Perfect, in certain situations, yes, it may make sense, but, I think the key is, ask yourself the question, You know, Does this make sense to me?
Um, so, you can ask a question, and this is sort of, we’re in this weird environment right now with the webinar, where you guys can’t actually hear each other and see, each other’s responses, Sarah, and I were talking about. this is kind of being a little bit of a shortcoming of of the tool, because it would be so nice if you could interact in these ways.
But, in live formats, or even in breakout rooms, there are a lot of different ways that you can facilitate conversations among people.
Once you throw out the prompts or have an exercise, you could have a table talk and have people just discuss among themselves. You could have them serve stand-up circulate around a group. You could have them parents share.
You can have them find a person who, whatever.
Meet up in Triads and then switcheroo, find another Triad or have big group shares.
So there are a lot of different formats and I would just again, think about your purpose and try a few different things if, if people really don’t know each other, it may depend on the prompt that you’re using.
If you have something like, you know, share a challenge or something that’s, you know, sort of a little bit more intimate, maybe you create a smaller Environment in which people share that, rather than putting them on the spot in front of a full group.
We also have different methods, so it may not just be, you know, throwing a prompt up on, on, on your PowerPoint, But you may want to do a … ball and have someone answer a question.
Or put it on a thumb ball?
We’ll get to these before they’re behind me. That kind of thing, where abolish is pre printed with conversation prompts.
You might use a kind of a pocket and pull out a card, or had people introduce one another using image decks and using games.
So lots of different methods, it’s not just about that one, know, the prompts that you happen to pick out.
So lots of tools to break the ice and just to kind of give you a sense, I actually brought some crops here, because there are so many different dec’s.
The one that you’re seeing on your screen right now, is, is called a you lead Dak And what’s kind of interesting is that they have images, you know, photos on one side.
Then you can see on the other side, they have, you know, a suit, an animal, a quote, and so forth.
And there’s so many things you can do with with card decks, It might be like pick a card that reflects how you feel coming into this workshop.
So, instead of just saying, you know, my asking you at the beginning, what are your greatest fears and challenges at the start of a session, maybe I say, you know, can you find a picture that you think reflects how you feel?
Or, you might say, you know, find a card that shows how, what you hope to get out of this session, that reminds you of a formative experience. And you can be really creative about how you use this.
You could also use them to interact with other people. So, you’ve got your card and, and maybe you just, like, have collected a whole bunch of postcards or, or no photos that, you’ve taken anything like that. And you have people select a picture and then go around and find a few other people make up the story about how, what brings those cards together?
You know, use those as a way to, you know, to, to build creativity, to have people think differently about your content, and express themselves in different ways.
So, this is the, this is the ball that’s behind me, also. And you can kind of see what size it is, and I’m also just showing it because it was also in.
In Sarah’s intro, they’re doing your 15% off, I think, right?
Um, the idea with these, you can also facilitate them in a multiple, in multiple different ways. So you might have each person answer a different prompt when they get the ball. You might have everybody respond to the same prompt.
You might have people try to remember what the prior person said, Um, and it’s not, you know, right now, this is kinda like getting to know you, but you should make sure that you pick a tool that is consistent with your purpose and your why.
Right, so You may you know want one that is very surface if you’re just looking for prompts that you want to get people talking to each other.
If you’re trying to build deeper relationships, maybe you use an ethics ball, or building trust, building bridges or leadership.
And so you kind of, you always want that to be relevant and in.
Consistent with, you know, what your what your topic is, and what your goal is for your icebreaker.
In another tool, are answer board activities where you can have everyone thinking about an answer, Writing it down on the board, and then holding it up to either share with the group, or look for someone else who has a similar or a very different answer, and have conversations about that.
Um, you know, you could have people form groups, and discuss all of their answers.
Um, and I do have a note from one of our from Sonia saying, I make my own message Squalls using Dollar Tree Beach balls.
Perfect, and then you have complete control over what’s on it. Really good idea.
So, you know, again, whatever you choose, you, just want to make sure that you’re tying it to your content.
And that you are explaining why you’re doing it.
When you’re facilitating, we’ve talked about transparency a lot, It builds honesty, it builds trust, be clear about why you’re doing something, repeat it, so that it kind of sticks in people’s heads.
Keep your, no, keep your prompts and your conversations simple.
I always remember this because I was with a colleague in, where were we? I think we were maybe an Amsterdam or something, no Italy, it was Italy. I was doing training, negotiations, training for some IBM groups.
And we had, we had a language issue, and my co facilitator took me aside, and he said, Keep it simple.
No, it’s hard enough for people to translate.
Be very clear, and very specific, So that it’s just easier for people to know what they’re supposed to do and act on that.
And, regarding time, be cognizant of the fact that, if your answer, or if you’re asking questions, that need some time for consideration, build in enough time for people to have thoughtful conversations about that, and, and to have the time to share with each other, depending on, you know, on what that topic is.
All right.
We started off with the fact that some people, although not 42% of us, hey icebreakers, but they do serve a purpose, and we do need to think about our openings and starters and make sure that these are consistent with our goals that we use.
Our intros to build credibility and trust articulate them with purpose and transparency and choose wisely.
And before I stop for questions, I do have one last poll.
Because someone I also said, I like to call them icebreakers, so what do you like to call these things?
Did we call them Ice Breakers, starter’s, appetizers, intros, or just not really even give them a name?
We have entered use yeah.
Warm ups or reflections, I like that, too.
You’re giving you the mm hmm, 10 more seconds to respond to the poll, if you haven’t yet.
OK, great, and those results are up on the screen now. Alright, so maybe I don’t need to worry about this word icebreakers. You think my, pardon my, where he came from is, you know, how you put something, you write a blog or you post something on LinkedIn, and everybody jumps all over it. I guess that’s old news.
Um, but I think that part of my sensitivity to the use of that word is that, you know, the acknowledgement that it does, it’s, that elephant in the room, It kind of brings up, or could, bring up, um, no perceptions for people that you might not want, or might be aware of.
Um, all right.
Oh, someone said, I just say, we’re going to do something to get to know each other. You know, just put it out there, and that’s your right.
That’s kind of transparent and, you know, without kind of raising any flags for anybody.
Alright, I’m gonna pause again and see if we have any more questions that we want to come back to, and I actually have a couple of challenges for you too, should you choose to accept them.
But, let me pause for a second or is, Sarah, if you saw any other questions as we’re going along please.
Yes, so, we actually did have a comment come in earlier that I wanted to share when we did our second poll about icebreakers and you know how people thought about them and John said, I think introverts find icebreakers are addressed them.
Yes, Do you see that being true?
Uh, you price probably have been in the classrooms with people doing them more, but I know that just from the people in my family, I live with a lot of ice, a lot of introverts. And, yes, I think that you’re right, which Is why the idea sometimes of table talks and, you know, introduce one, another kind of formats can be helpful.
You know, rather than putting people on the spot right away.
And this question here is from Jane that you had asked, we tag for later. And she had asked, what happens when you are not in charge of the icebreaker but have been asked if you have an icebreaker for them to do? I’m tempted to just do it myself so I can set the stage for the day for me as the facilitator.
Yeah, I think that you’re absolutely right.
It’s really, I think if it’s your event, then you may want to be involved and say, No, can we discuss this?
Um, and either take it on yourself or have some conversations about what your hopes and expectations are with regard to it.
I would Great.
So, for sure appetizer I haven’t heard that before, but I like it. I think I made that went up. Or, If I didn’t, I heard it from one somewhere somewhere, someone somewhere, And I don’t know where, but, I think that’s kind of funnel. But now we only 2% picked it.
I’m going to start.
Going back to Paul, so we had a question if these activities are adaptable to virtual trainings.
Um, yes, yes, so we, we created a tool called The Trainers Exchange that has all of the prompts for all.
25 or more Thum balls that we’ve created over the years, along with Energizer is added, Um.
Reinforcement like Next Steps, Little, Energizer, Puzzlers, all of that is in an online experience where you can choose like five different categories or six different categories, and you’re not throwing a ball, but you can have people say.
you know what?
We Can we take a look at it, Sarah, or would that be inappropriate I’m sorry, Can we can I show that or would that be inappropriate?
Yeah, OK.
So, OK.
We’re see.
So, we created this during the, during the pandemic and, um, when, uh, yeah, I’ll be honest. We don’t sell a ton of it, because it’s still new, and I think people kind of need to see it, but we really like it.
So basically, I’m gonna go to view all, and you can see, like, all of the content that’s in here.
So, you know, shaped by our past, getting to know you what makes you you: workplace ethics? customer service? onward upward memory, keepers, quotations, whatever. I pick what I want.
And then I say, um, And I can also look at the prompts and I can select the ones that I want And then I say, Let’s play, and so then what you do is I would say, OK, Jane, you’re up Next. You know, what do you want, which prompt? And she says, maybe shaped by our past.
So I say, OK, let’s look at that.
I’m a proud childhood moment and, you know, she shares, and then I say, OK, Matthew, you’re up next.
Would you like a new prompt, a new theme, or surprise me? So maybe he says, Oh, surprise me.
And so I get surprised, and this is a diversity prompt, And I kind of can go around the room. So it’s not quite the same as throwing a ball. But it tries to bring the playfulness, and the access to all of those.
No, to all of that content, you know, or an energizer like a puzzle.
I think I know you guys know. Broken, broken, glass, I’m giving it away. But, anyway, so, it’s, it’s, I think it. You know, there’s some fun to it.
Anyway, so, that’s our That’s our version of, you know. How do we adapt those symbols to to online?
one all. And then, one more question for today, that came in from Suzanne. And Susan says, Is there any research that shows icebreakers increase engagement throughout the training?
It’s not specifically icebreakers, but there is a lot of research about no, not just psychological safety, but people feeling comfortable having fun about friendships, about things like that.
And, I do have, I have some resources on our blog with, you know, some of that kind of information that helps explain why this stuff makes sense. And I’d be help.
I’d be happy to, you know, put some links together and share those with you, I don’t have it, like, you know, at my fingertips.
Wonderful. And with that, I’ll conclude the Q&A portion of today’s session. So, I’ll pass it back to you, and he had a challenge for the audience.
I do have one. I have a challenge for you guys to think about.
I know we’re kind of, you know, we’re sort of at the end now. And probably folks maybe are starting to drop off.
But My challenge for you is to think about these two questions: What would you need to do to make the start of your training stronger? So, just kind of, you know, reflecting on what we’ve gone through today. How could you make your intro stronger and to just brainstorm three starter questions or activities?
That would be purposeful and interesting for your topic.
So, that’s my challenge for you going forward, and I thank you all for joining me with this.
It’s been great.
This has been great fun. Thank you so much, Sue. This was a really engaging session. And thank you so much to the audience out there. You’ve made it so much fun Today does he bring us to the top of the hour?
And, again, you can save 15% on the Thumb Ball Communicate, game communication, solders that. See, went into detail on today with the code a thumb all 15 at HUD key store dot com slash malls. And I look forward to seeing you all. Next week’s webinar.
Thank you.

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