Whatever the facilitator does at the beginning of a presentation sets the tone for the rest of the training. The facilitator need for some sort of activity that will get the participants warmed up-an
Icebreakers present program materials in a more interesting way than introductory lectures by instantly involving the entire group; participants become acquainted b sharing personal attitudes, values, and concerns. Nonthreatening activities relax participants and reduce anxiety, encouraging spontaneity even among timid and shy trainees.
Icebreakers establish the pace and tone of the pro— grain and help build enthusiasm. They motivate the group quickly with activities that involve physical and emotional energy. In addition, they orient participants to the groups resources and give the group a sense of identity, helping to build trust. Finally, they establish the identity of the trainer as a facilitator rather than a lecturer.
Icebreakers acquaint participants with one another and put them at ease (trainees are more receptive when they are ready to learn). These nonthreatening warm—up activities make a smooth start by introducing and focusing the program. They let participants know that they are responsible for their learning and that the trainer’s job is to facilitate the learning. They also show participants what kind of trainer you are—demonstrative or reserved, conventional or innovative, program or participant oriented.
15 Icebreaker Tips
To properly set the stage for your training pro— gram, follow these icebreaker guidelines:
1. Develop an environment conducive to group interaction by providing a common experience or helping the group share experiences.
2. Never insist that participants share personal data.
3. If a trainee is using too much time during a personal statement, intervene tactfully and put tile group hack on course.
4. Determine the length of your opening activities by estimating the duration of’ the program (a four—hour session would require only six or seven minutes of icebreakers).
5. Consider your group’s expectations when determining the level of activity and involvement of your icebreakers,
6. Select activities that will be appealing to specific kinds of groups. For instance, machine operators might not be as receptive to activities involving fantasies or imagination as would therapists.
7. Consider the background of your group and temper innovative activities with the knowledge of their cultural preferences.
8. Choose opening activities that are appropriate for the particular program. Employee motivation programs, for example, may use more flexible activities than management development programs.
9. Use icebreakers that involve physical energy to stimulate your group.
10. Use icebreakers as an opportunity for you to become acquainted with your group.
11. Use them to indicate what will he expected of the group and what the group can expect of the program.
12. Use them to show how you intend to participate in the program.
13. Choose icebreakers that will establish an environment for discussion.
14. Use icebreakers you are comfortable with. Some experiential activities may take time and participants’ attention away from the specific subject matter. If you prefer more conventional methods that give you more control, use them.
15. Avoid using icebreakers for very large groups in which they will lose their intensity.