Six Simple Workshop Ice Breakers

Monday, October 31, 2022

If you are facilitating a workshop where you are looking to get maximum participation, it's always a good idea to take time to break-the-ice.  Also, first impressions do matter and the way you start the workshop can really set the scene for the whole event.  So take some risks and look to start the session using some techniques that will get people engaged from the very first moment. And if you can, try and find some exercises that can be tailored to the objectives of the event you are running.  In addition to the techniques below, check out an earlier blog post with our six best workshop energisers.


Get group to split into two lines and for each person to face another person. Tell them to look into the other person's eyes and to read their minds and to imagine what they are thinking or feeling. When you are ready, ask each person to tell the group what they thought they heard from listening to the other person's mind. A good ice-breaker but consider the risks if tension already exists between certain individuals, and this exercise can take time.


Simple team introduction at the start of a meeting where delegates can introduce themselves as different personalities. Split into pairs, and ask each person to tell their partner the "three Cs" that best describe their character - a car, a cartoon character and a cuisine. Give them 5 minutes to prepare and then ask the partners to introduce the person to the group in under 30 seconds.  You can mix up the letters for different people by handing our random cards, each with a letter.


A good way of starting a workshop, especially if the objectives for the session are not clear to all delegates. It is based on the actor's reverse technique of getting the attention of yourself and onto the audience.  Split into pairs and ask each pair to discuss what they want from the workshop...but to write their answer using only 4 words on one piece of paper. If you have time, get individuals to vote on their favourite words posted by other people. Be prepared to flex the agenda if something new comes out.


Randomly split group into small teams or pairs. Ask each team to design a T shirt (front and back) that captures either the key learning messages from a past project / session, OR what the team are hoping to achieve from a future project / workshop session. Give them 10-20 minutes to make the design and then have a “design or fashion parade”. Make it fun and award prizes to the best designs. If you don't want to do T shirts, do this as a poster competition.


Two teams wear blindfolds sit in a line of chairs facing back to back. NO talking and each team to hold hands. At one end of line, two "captains" remove blindfolds and face moderator who tosses a coin. If a HEADS, each captain squeezes hand of their team mate once or twice if it's a TAILS. Team mates, passes on "squeeze" (one or two) to the person sitting at the end of teh chairs. First "end person" to shout out the correct toss wins race. Team loses if "end person" shouts out the wrong toss.


Explain that the workshop needs energy to be a success, and this game gets the energy flowing!  Get the group to stand in a circle, and to pass the energy around using ZIP, ZAP or BONG. Person starts and shouts ZIP (and claps hands) always passing energy to their right. Person receiving energy either continues to pass energy to their right (clap and shout ZIP), OR they shout ZAP (clap and point) to pass energy to someone else in the group (on the other side of the circle), OR they shout BONG to bounce energy back to the person who sent it. Move fast and don't allow two BONGs together.  It's a silly game but can be fun.


Have fun with these techniques and get in touch if you want some more ideas on how to make your workshop a huge success.