Ice breakers are effective ways of introducing a training topic, the trainer with the audience and the audience each other. These involve interaction and fun sessions before getting into details of the training topic and help people to get to know each other and buy into the purpose of the training. They can bring real focus and energy to the start of a training course. Though short, sharp and fun, they are a way of helping participants relax and tune into the training session ahead. Ice breakers enhance the effectiveness of training sessions when they are rightly targeted to the training, speaking or facilitation topic and the needs of the learners or participants. Their use is not only limited to a training program, but also enhance the effectiveness to spice up, add flavour and start out meetings, conferences and key note sessions to encourage interpersonal communication.
If a training session is well designed and facilitated, ice breakers set the atmosphere of a great workshop like the icing on the cake with a great start. By getting to know each other, getting to know the facilitators, and learning about the objectives of the session, people can become more engaged in the proceedings and so contribute more effectively towards a successful outcome. The secret of a successful icebreaking session is to keep it simple: design the session with specific objectives in mind and make sure that the session is appropriate and comfortable for everyone involved. Ice breakers should be used to enhance the effectiveness of the workshop. The group composition and expected interaction from participants should be carefully analysed before planning the ice breaker. Just as a great session can pave the way for a great event, a bad session can be a recipe for disaster. A bad session is at best simply a waste of time, or worse an embarrassment for everyone involved. A facilitator should make sure that his ice breaker is remembered for the right reasons as a great start to a great training intervention.
When to Use Icebreakers
As the name suggests, these sessions are designed to “break the ice” at an event or meeting. The technique is often used when people who do not usually work together or may not know each other at all, meet for a specific, common purpose.
Consider using an ice breaker when:
- Participants come from different backgrounds.
- People need to bond quickly so as to work towards a common goal.
- The topics you are discussing are new or unfamiliar to many people involved.
- As facilitator you need to get to know participants and have them know you better.
- You want to boost and bring right level of energy you want for the training course.
- To enhance your credibility as a trainer.
- To quickly associate, influence and build your relationship with the group.
- You want to enhance the interaction levels and compel participation in the course right from the beginning.
Ice-breakers are effective tools to create an environment of engagement, involvement and engagement that brings out participation even from the group of most dry or introvert people.