Communication Skills Icebreakers and Short Exercises

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Everything you need to help participants improve their communication skills, covering things like effective questioning, active listening and effective use of skills such as summary and clarification.

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Document TitleDuration
(mins)
   
All Change! - How We React to Change
15
All Change! - How We React to Change

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To illustrate typical reactions to change when communication is limited.
• To briefly consider the reasons for these reactions.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels. It can be used with people who don't know one another at all, or who have met/worked together previously.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the handouts provided.

Notes:
This icebreaker can be used with any group of participants at the start of a learning and development session focused on change management. It is particularly useful for helping participants understand the reasons for resistance to change and to understand the importance of effective communication during any change project.

The handout that accompanies this icebreaker provides tips on dealing with resistance to change.




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An Image of Me
40
An Image of Me

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 10 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 40 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To introduce participants to each other.
• To help participants understand their colleagues’ ‘drivers’.
• To build rapport.
• To discover more about colleagues’ values and the experiences that influence these.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Everyone, including participants who already know one another at work.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the materials provided.

Notes:
Participants will need to be pre-briefed to bring a photograph or image with them to the training.




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Art Gallery - Creating a Visual Representation
40
Art Gallery - Creating a Visual Representation

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 30 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 40 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To explore a particular concept, idea or problem, in an enjoyable way.
• To develop shared understanding of the concept, idea or problem.
• To identify areas of uncertainty or misunderstanding.
• To identify lack of knowledge, which the facilitator can address in the rest of the session.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Coloured stickers or shapes (see note).

Notes:
There is a variant version to this ice breaker which entails asking participants to prepare a collage from the materials you have for them rather than just a drawing. Instructions, timing etc for the variant version are included in brackets in the text. Whether you choose to use them will depend mainly on how much time you are able to allow.

For this exercise you will need:

Basic version:
Flipchart paper, coloured pens and coloured stickers or shapes.

Variation:
As above, plus a collection of old magazines, journals, postcards, birthday cards or similar, scissors and glue pens.




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Assertive Screensaver - Communicating on Equal Terms
40
Assertive Screensaver - Communicating on Equal Terms

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 40 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to think about and describe their qualities at work.
• To encourage participants to think about whether they describe their role assertively.
• To prompt discussion about the link between self-esteem and assertive behaviour.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Sheets of blank paper. Coloured pencils and pens.




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Assertiveness Spectrum
15
Assertiveness Spectrum

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 15 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 25 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• Introduces the concept of assertiveness and explores how comfortable your participants feel displaying assertive behaviour.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• A piece of string/rope that is approximately 4 metres long.

Notes:
You will need a clear space for your participants to move along the ‘Assertiveness Spectrum’.




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Assumptions - The Witches of Glum
30
Assumptions - The Witches of Glum

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module (longer for larger groups or where you want to explore some of the learning in more detail).

Aims:
• To check listening skills.
• To illustrate the dangers of making assumptions.
• To provoke discussion about prejudices and stereotypes.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of any size. It is possible to use this exercise in conference situations as well as more usual training interventions like courses and workshops.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing extra is required if you intend to read the story to your participants. However, working in partnership with Trainers' Library members, Voices for Trainers (www.voicesfortrainers.co.uk), we've added a professional recording of the story, which can really add to the experience. The recording can be downloaded and played as an MP3 file on any compatible equipment, including, for example, a laptop or iPod.

Notes:
This module can be used as an icebreaker or short exercise in a variety of situations. It is particularly effective when used as an icebreaker or short exercise in equal opportunities and diversity training, where it can be used to illustrate how powerful stereotypes can be. The exercise can also be used in other situations too, for example:
• In a call centre environment, where making assumptions about the nature of a customer’s problem could lead to greater problems finding a solution.
• To show how important questions are for checking understanding and avoiding assumptions being made.

This module has been endorsed by Show Racism the Red Card. For more information about the great work this charity is doing to educate against racism, visit www.srtrc.org.




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Balloon Chase - Creative Problem Solving
20
Balloon Chase - Creative Problem Solving

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To test participants' creative thinking.
• To demonstrate how we make assumptions about how a task should be completed.
• To encourage teamwork and co-operation.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
One inflated balloon (though we suggest you have a couple of spares handy, in case of need).

Notes:
We’d like to thank Resli Costabell for contributing the idea for this icebreaker.

To find out more about Resli, visit her website:
http://www.costabell.com.




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Bingo! - An Exercise in Communication
30
Bingo! - An Exercise in Communication

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 25 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to mix and get to know each other.
• To encourage networking.
• To help participants identify things they have in common with others on the course.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
None.

Notes:
This icebreaker is based on an idea from Trainers' Library member Rene Garcia-Evans.

It's a fun icebreaker that provides a useful introduction to lots of different training courses. It can be particularly useful as an introduction to training that covers networking and communication skills.

This exercise is suitable for any number of participants.




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Creatively Speaking
15
Creatively Speaking

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 15 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 20 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To give participants an opportunity to practice speaking in front of others, with a particular emphasis on the skills needed to think quickly.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 18 participants. However, for larger groups you will need to adjust the timings to allow for all of the participant's presentations. (The timings we have suggested is for a group of 8 participants.)

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• A set of the Creatively Speaking Cards (one card per participant).
• Blu-tac.
• A stopwatch.

Stopwatches can be purchased from Trainers' Market.

Dominoes
30
Dominoes

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 15 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To test leadership, teamwork and problem solving.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of any size although you do need a minimum of 8 participants.

Useful For:
All staff including managers.

You'll Need:
• A set of domino cards. (See note as to how many you will need to print.)

Notes:
This is a fun activity that can lead to confusion but will test your participants’ ability to organise themselves and communicate effectively.




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Feelings Cards - Icebreakers
20
Feelings Cards - Icebreakers

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 5 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To introduce participants to one another.
• To encourage participants to share their perceptions of the organisation they work for.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the materials provided.

Notes:
You will need to create a set of Feelings Cards for each person.

The Feelings Cards can be used in many different ways and for many different situations. These notes explain three ways of using them in a simple icebreaker. Two slightly more complex training exercises are explained in Course Modules.




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Getting Knotted! - Teamwork and Communication
30
Getting Knotted! - Teamwork and Communication

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To test participants’ team and communication skills.
• To test participants’ abilities to work together to analyse and solve a problem.
• To provide a high energy energiser, or introduction to training.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of between 6 and 24 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
String.

Notes:
This exercise involves bending and twisting and may not be suitable for all participants. Please remind participants to take care in this exercise.

Whilst the lengths of string are not essential (participants can simply hold hands) they do give participants more room to move and can reduce encroachment on ‘personal space’. Nevertheless, participants are going to be working in close proximity to each other in this exercise!

You will need an even number of participants (minimum of 6) for this exercise, and it works better with larger numbers than this in each team. If you’ve an odd number, ask one person to be an observer, or join in yourself to create an even number.




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Getting To Know You - Networking and Communication
45
Getting To Know You - Networking and Communication

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 30 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to mix and get to know each other.
• To encourage the use of questioning and listening skills.
• To help participants identify things they have in common with others on the course.
• To help participants identify others on the course who can help them.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This icebreaker provides a useful introduction to lots of different training courses. It can be particularly useful as an introduction to training that covers networking and communication skills.

We've created a 'general' version of this game but you might like to adapt it to be more course specific. For example, in assertiveness training, one box could be labelled, "Someone who feels they tend to adopt submissive behaviour in difficult situations." Another could be labelled, "Someone who believes they can be a bit aggressive when stressed."

If you do adapt the boxes to be more course specific, you'll need to brief participants that they are trying to find information from each other that is relevant to the training.




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Goal! - Teamwork and Lateral Thinking
20
Goal! - Teamwork and Lateral Thinking

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 10 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 20 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to think laterally about a problem.
• To encourage participants to work together in order to simplify a task and achieve a better result.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• A number of soft balls (4-6 will do).
• A bucket.
• A large newspaper (rolled up) for each team attempting the exercise.
• Two blindfolds.

Notes:
This is a great energiser/icebreaker for use in any training where you want to encourage teamwork and lateral thinking, or as a lead in to continuous improvement or creative problem solving.




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Goldilocks - A Listening Exercise
30
Goldilocks - A Listening Exercise

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module (longer for larger groups or where you want to explore some of the learning in more detail)

Aims:
• To test listening skills.
• To illustrate the dangers of making assumptions.
• To encourage participants to think about how they can check their understanding of information they receive.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of any size. It is possible to use this exercise in conference situations as well as more usual training interventions like courses and workshops.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing extra, but we suggest pre-preparing a flipchart sheet with the statements listed in the handout.

We've included a recording of the story, which can be played to participants if you prefer not to read it yourself. This can add to the story telling atmosphere. The recording can be downloaded and played as an MP3 file on any compatible equipment, including, for example, a laptop or ipod.

Notes:
We’d like to thank John Holloway for giving us permission to include it in the library.

This module is suitable for staff at all levels and can be used as an icebreaker, simple listening exercise, or as a short exercise to demonstrate how assumptions are made.

If You Like This Training Exercise:
You’ll LOVE ‘The Witches of Glum’ which is also available from Trainers’ Library. ‘The Witches of Glum’ has been endorsed by Show Racism the Red Card for its ability to make participants think about prejudice and stereotypes. To find out more about the great work this charity is doing to educate against racism, visit www.srtrc.org.




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Guess What Animal I Am - An Exercise in Communication
30
Guess What Animal I Am - An Exercise in Communication

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To give participants an opportunity to learn more about each other in a fun way.
• To demonstrate the benefit of open questions.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Pieces of A4 or A5 card.




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Hopes and Fears - Establishing Aims and Objectives
45
Hopes and Fears - Establishing Aims and Objectives

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 20 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To establish participants’ worries about the training they’re attending.
• To identify what participants are hoping for in the training.
• To help establish/develop some objectives and ground rules for the training.
• To encourage an atmosphere of empathy and mutual support.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• A hat or other receptacle.
Hats can be purchased from Trainers' Market.

Notes:
This can be a really useful introduction to training that participants might be worried about. A typical example is presentation skills, where participants are often worried about having to make a presentation to fellow participants.




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Horror and Happy Ever After Stories - Sharing Experiences
30
Horror and Happy Ever After Stories - Sharing Experiences

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To provide an opportunity for participants to share good and bad experiences.
• To gather real-life examples that can be referred to throughout the training.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
Our thanks to Buffy Sparks for her help in writing this icebreaker.

This exercise can be adapted to training on almost any topic, including, for example, sales, performance management, negotiation, change.




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How Do You Feel?
25
How Do You Feel?

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 25 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 35 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To enable participants to introduce themselves to each other.
• To help participants recognise their own emotions.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels. However, for some senior audiences you may choose not to use the paper plates but just ask participants to describe how they are feeling.

You'll Need:
• One plain paper plate and lollipop stick per participant. (Try to avoid laminated plates, as these can be difficult to draw on.)
• Sticky tape and a selection of marker pens.

Notes:
The facilitator needs to have a good understanding of Emotional Intelligence. The Trainers’ Library article by Mike Bagshaw is a good starting point. This activity also complements the module ‘Managing Emotions’ in Trainers’ Library, which could be used later in the session.




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Intro Web
20
Intro Web

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 10 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 20 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To introduce participants to one another.
• To practice and test listening skills.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
A very simple but engaging icebreaker.

This can be used in any situation to introduce participants, but is particularly useful where you want to focus on networking or communication skills.

It’s also a very effective way to introduce the concept of experiential training in train the trainer training. Participants should be able to see that getting involved in an experience makes the learning (in this case around communication) stick in a way that they wouldn’t gain from simply being told about, for example, the benefits of summary and clarification.




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Introductions - Learning About Other Participants
45
Introductions - Learning About Other Participants

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share information about themselves.
• To build rapport among participants.
• To start to identify core communication skills.
• To explore the use of the communication loop.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This simple introductory icebreaker allows the facilitator to find out more about the participants.

It also provides a means of encouraging participants to think about what makes communication effective.




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Jigsaw Race - An Introduction to Communication
20
Jigsaw Race - An Introduction to Communication

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To test participants' communication skills.
• To demonstrate the importance of breaking complex messages down into key points.
• To illustrate the difficulties of communicating using only the voice.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• A blindfold and a small jigsaw puzzle for each pair of participants.
24-30 piece puzzles are ideal. These items can be purchased from Trainers' Market.




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Let's Dance! - Networking and Communication
30
Let's Dance! - Networking and Communication

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 20 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To introduce participants to each other.
• To encourage networking.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Music (see note).

Notes:
Participants can become very familiar with the traditional ‘round the table’ introductions used at the beginning of many courses and workshops. Let’s Dance is a fun way of getting participants introduced to one another and works with groups that already know each other, as well as those that don’t.

The icebreaker provides an ideal introduction to training around communication or networking, introducing concepts like information gathering, rapport building and breaking the ice when networking.

You will want to play music during this exercise - so it also provides a great way of introducing music to the learning environment.

However, please note you will need the appropriate PRS and PPL licences in order to use any music in any of your training.




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Life Story - A Test of Listening Skills
25
Life Story - A Test of Listening Skills

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 25 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share information about each other.
• To test participant's listening and recall skills.
• To briefly explore barriers to listening.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This exercise can provide a useful introduction to any training session concerned with listening skills. It also provides a fun and engaging way of building rapport between participants and encouraging concentration and focus from the start.




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Little Known Facts - Matching the Facts to the Participant
15
Little Known Facts - Matching the Facts to the Participant

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete (longer for large groups). In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share information in a fun, lively and non-threatening way.
• To help participants get to know more about one another and identify some common ground/points of interest for them to use when working together.
• To inject energy and movement into the start of the day.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants. Whilst it could conceivably be used for much larger groups, it would require much more time, or slight adaption.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels. It can be used with people who don't know one another at all, or who have met/worked together previously.

You'll Need:
A set of pens of the same colour and style - one for each participant. A set of cards (e.g., blank index cards) or slips of paper - six per participant. (The cards/pieces of paper must all be the same size.)

Notes:
This icebreaker works best when there are at least six participants, in order to ensure there are sufficient responses to make it challenging.

This icebreaker works particularly well as an introduction to communication skills, presentation skills and interpersonal skills courses. It is useful where participants are going to be working together in small group activities (pairs/threes etc.) during the course as it helps people to get to know informal/fun facts about one another, which can help them relate to one another more quickly.

It can be used after more formal introductions have been completed.




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Loop the Hoop - Team Problem Solving
15
Loop the Hoop - Team Problem Solving

Time:
The exercise in this module can be complete within 5 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes to complete the module.

Aims:
• To energise a group of participants.
• To encourage teamwork and team problem solving.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with almost any number of participants though, for larger groups, we recommend splitting the group into smaller teams.

Useful For:
Teams that are prepared to have fun whilst learning.

You'll Need:
• Hula Hoops (one or two per team).
• A stopwatch per team.
These can be purchased from Trainers' Market.

Notes:
We’d like to thank Lynn Burton, who submitted the exercise idea, for help in producing this energiser.




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Metaphor - Aims and Objectives
30
Metaphor - Aims and Objectives

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To identify how participants are feeling.
• To explore their thoughts, fears and concerns in a comfortable way.
• To establish learning objectives for the course or programme.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This icebreaker can be useful for putting participants at ease. It provides a tool through which participants can highlight concerns and areas for personal development in a non-threatening and potentially humorous way. It is particularly useful when training around areas that participants may feel uncomfortable about or which they may find challenging.

The use of the metaphor makes it easier for participants to discuss their own development needs and any challenges that they face.

Depending on the subject matter, it is also possible to use the metaphor as a theme for the course or programme. Course handouts and other materials can be branded and themed around the metaphor that is used.

You will need to spend some time in advance of the session choosing a suitable metaphor for the topic(s) to be covered in the training.




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Missing Pieces - Teamwork and Communication
20
Missing Pieces - Teamwork and Communication

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To introduce participants to one another.
• To encourage teamwork and co-operation.
• To break a large group into three or four smaller teams.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• 3 or 4 small jigsaw puzzles (can be purchased from Trainers' Market).
• Some small envelopes.

Notes:
This exercise is a great icebreaker and has the added advantage of breaking your participants into smaller teams for group work.

The number of small teams you want to form determines the number of jigsaw puzzles used. 24-30 piece puzzles are ideal and they should have similar, but not identical, designs.




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My Picture Says... - Identifying Values and/or Objectives
30
My Picture Says... - Identifying Values and/or Objectives

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 20 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes.

Aims:
• To provide an opportunity for participants to learn something about each other.
• To help participants learn more about each other’s values and motivators.
Or
• To help participants identify group and individual objectives for the course/workshop they’re attending.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to about 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
For Version1:
A selection of images, each printed on to an A4 sheet of paper. The images could be very varied and include, for example, abstract images, landscapes, animals, people and holiday scenes.

For Version 2:
A selection of images from Trainers’ Images (or a similar resource) that could be used to illustrate particular challenges, behaviours or problems that might be relevant to the participants.

Notes:
The time needed for this exercise will be influenced by the number of participants in your group. Allow 5 minutes for the initial exercise and 2 minutes for each participant to explain their choice.

We’d like to thank Nicki Davey of Saltbox Training and Events (www.salt-box.co.uk) for the idea for this icebreaker.




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One Man Brand - How Images Add Impact
30
One Man Brand - How Images Add Impact

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 30 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 35 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To help participants get to know each other.
• To encourage participants to think about their personal ‘brand’.
• To encourage participants to think about how images can communicate more than words and can make communication more powerful.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Anyone, but particularly perhaps those involved in marketing and/or presentations.

You'll Need:
2 name tags or name cards for each participant. (Or one sheet of A4 paper for each participant.)

Notes:
If using this icebreaker in very large groups ask participants to work in small teams and introduce themselves to those team members rather than the whole group.




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Out for the Count - Energiser
15
Out for the Count - Energiser

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 15 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 15 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To raise energy levels within the group.
• To provide the group with an opportunity for physical activity.
• To wake up the brain in preparation for the next session.

Group Size:
This module can be used with very large groups of more than 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels. Care should be taken when choosing the activity to ensure that all participants are physically able to participate.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
A useful energiser for after lunch and particularly useful in training around creativity.




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Pass the Baton - Sharing Positive and Negative Experiences
30
Pass the Baton - Sharing Positive and Negative Experiences

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share good and bad experiences relevant to the subject of your course/workshop.
• To help identify issues related to the topic.
• To help participants identify key learning objectives for the course/workshop.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
For this exercise you will need a baton, or two. (Two is nice, because you can have a red one for the negative experiences and a green one for the positives). You can make a baton out of rolled up paper, or alternatively, for a fun twist, you might like to replace your batons with sticks of rock (candy), with the 'winner' from each round keeping the rock as a prize.

Notes:
This is a simple, fun exercise that really does encourage participants to disclose information about difficult situations they may have faced that are relevant to the course/workshop you are facilitating. It also enables positive experiences to be shared.

The icebreaker can be adapted to almost any topic, including for example, customer service, appraisals, negotiation skills and recruitment.




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Personal Item - Sharing Information
20
Personal Item - Sharing Information

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share information about themselves.
• To build rapport among participants.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This simple icebreaker provides an effective way of introducing a wide variety of training, and in particular training that requires participants to share information about themselves. For example, it would make a nice introduction to training around personal effectiveness, or personal motivation.




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Personal Motto
15
Personal Motto

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 15 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To enable participants to introduce each other by sharing their personal motto.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Participant name cards (large enough for their name and motto).

Notes:
You should ensure you have your own example available to share with the participants.




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Postcard Review - Post-Training Review
15
Postcard Review - Post-Training Review

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To provide a memorable review of training participants have received.
• To remind participants of key learning points or action points from a course or workshop.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
A selection of picture postcards - one postcard per participant, and a few spare ones.

Select postcards with a variety of images: Countryside, coastal, historic buildings, modes of transport, animals etc.

Notes:
This exercise was developed from an idea submitted by Barbara Buffton. Barbara Buffton is an international training consultant, performance coach and published author. Much of her experience (and her clients keep coming back for more) is with large multi-national companies. She has had four books published, including The Which? Guide to Choosing a Career (1998).

Her most recent book, Follow Your Dream, is available from http://www.bookshaker.com/product_info.php?products_id=134

Contact Barbara on info@bbassociates.freeserve.co.uk




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Questions, Questions - An Exercise in Effective Communication
45
Questions, Questions - An Exercise in Effective Communication

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 30 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to gather information about each other.
• To encourage dialogue between participants.
• To illustrate the importance and benefit of open questions when gathering information.
• To illustrate the uses of closed questions.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This exercise can provide a useful introduction to any training where it is relevant to show the importance of effective questioning. It highlights how much more effective open questions are than closed questions for gathering information, but also how closed questions can be used to clarify and check information.




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Seeing Things Differently - Different Perspectives
30
Seeing Things Differently - Different Perspectives

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 15 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to discuss ideas.
• To introduce different styles of information gathering.
• To introduce the facilitator’s style.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
An object or picture to show the group: For example, a piece of fruit or a photograph of a scene.

Notes:
This introductory module allows the group to recognise that we all see things differently and that each viewpoint is right for that individual.

This can be a particularly useful icebreaker for courses or workshops where you want participants to be aware of different perspectives – for example in training around negotiation, conflict, creative thinking etc.




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Shared Effort - The Importance of Teamwork
15
Shared Effort - The Importance of Teamwork

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To illustrate the nature and importance of teamwork in a fun way.
• To help teams define teamwork.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• One ‘Bendy Man’ for each participant (available to purchase from Trainers' Market).
• One A3 sheet of paper for each participant. (Please note that A4 is not large enough.)

Notes:
This icebreaker is based on an idea contributed by Kim Davies.




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Something in Common
30
Something in Common

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 15 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to find things they have in common.
• To consider the impact on relationships of finding common ground.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This exercise can be used as an icebreaker, and can provide a particularly powerful introduction to sales or negotiation skills courses.

It can also be used as an introduction to equal opportunities and diversity programmes, where it can be used to highlight a potential barrier to equal opportunities.

It can even be used to highlight one barrier to creativity and innovation within organisations.

This is a great exercise for building rapport between participants and is particularly useful with a group that do not know each other very well.




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Start with a Bang - Fun Course/Conference Opening
25
Start with a Bang - Fun Course/Conference Opening

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 25 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To help participants get to know each other.
• To encourage participants share something with the group to help build rapport.
• To encourage participants to think about how they feel about the event they’re attending.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• A balloon for each participant (and some spares). (If using this exercise in small groups, the balloons should all be the same colour.)
• A small square of paper for each participant.
• You might wish to provide a pin for each participant, although a pen or pencil will probably work just as well.

Notes:
This icebreaker is particularly well suited for use in groups that do not previously know each other and where there might be some initial apprehension. It’s a great way to lighten the mood and get people talking and networking. We think it’d be a great way to launch a conference.




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Stepping Stones - Team Development
30
Stepping Stones - Team Development

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage team development.
• To focus discussion on the team's approach to problem solving, communication, success and failure and team leadership.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants. 12 is an ideal number of participants for this exercise. More than 12 can make it a little unwieldy to run.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• One stepping stone per participant plus one extra.
Stepping stones could be sheets of newspaper (though these will easily tear) or used flipchart sheets (good for recycling). For a more robust alternative, you could use carpet squares (perhaps left over remnants from a local store) or Throw Down Marker Lines (available to buy from Trainers' Market).

You will also need sufficient space for participants to be able to stand as though in a queue.

Notes:
You will need an even number of participants for this exercise. If you have an odd number of participants you could ask for a volunteer to help observe and give feedback to the group.

12 is an ideal number for this exercise. More than 12 can make it a little unwieldy to run.

If you have more than 12 participants you could run the exercise simultaneously with two smaller groups - if you have the space and an additional observer.

Although we've listed this exercise as an icebreaker, and it can be used as a simple icebreaker to get participants thinking, it's also a great exercise for prompting a detailed examination of the way teams' work and can provoke plenty of discussion and learning.




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Sweet Review - A Simple Review/Preview Exercise
20
Sweet Review - A Simple Review/Preview Exercise

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to review learning.
• To encourage transfer and personal application of learning.
• To check understanding.
• To agree any changes to a training agenda.
• To check that participants’ objectives are being met.

Group Sizes:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to about 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
For this exercise you will need sweets of various colours – enough sweets for each person to take at least two. Avoid using nut-based sweets (e.g., Peanut M&Ms) due to the risk of allergy.

Notes:
This exercise provides a simple, fun and totally random way of reviewing learning or setting up any desired outcomes for the day ahead.

Prior to the exercise you will need to devise a different question/request for each sweet colour you have.

For example, for a review, you might use:
• Red: Tell me what was your most useful learning point from the course.
• Yellow: What one thing will you do differently as a result of being here?
• Green: Who else will you need to share your learning or ideas with for it to be successful?
• Brown: What action are you going to take tomorrow as a result of your attendance on this course?




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Talking Brochure or Sales Person?
30
Talking Brochure or Sales Person?

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 15 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes for this module if working with a group of 10-12 participants. It is therefore ideal as a topic specific icebreaker.

Aims:
• To identify how a sales person differs from a brochure.
• To highlight key skills used by ‘great’ sales people.
• For existing sales teams, to identify areas where the current approach could be improved.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Sales staff.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This module provides trainers with a useful way of introducing sales skills training to those already in a sales role. It's a useful icebreaker to use to illustrate the need for change and to highlight areas for improvement.

It is also suitable for use with those new to a sales role.




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Tapping it Out - Misinterpretations in Communication
30
Tapping it Out - Misinterpretations in Communication

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To demonstrate how our perspective of a situation will affect our expectations of others.
• To illustrate one reason why communication isn't always received in the way we intended.
• To demonstrate the dangers of making assumptions about others' knowledge when communicating.
• To recognise situations where the recipient might not interpret our message in the way we intended.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This exercise works well in a conference setting or with larger groups.




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The Paper Folding Exercise - Visual Communication
10
The Paper Folding Exercise - Visual Communication

Time:
This exercise will take about 5 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 10 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To show the importance of giving information visually as well as orally.
• To demonstrate how different people will interpret the same information differently.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size. (You'll need a minimum of six participants).

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Two sheets of A4 paper (or similar) for each participant (and for you too).

Notes:
This is a quick, yet powerful icebreaker that can be used with almost any number of people.

We’d like to thank Mick Duncan of CWT-Chamber Training for contributing the idea for this exercise in a posting on Trainers’ Talk and for giving us permission to include it in Trainers’ Library.




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True or False? - Communication Through Body Language
40
True or False? - Communication Through Body Language

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 30 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 40 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share information about themselves.
• To discover more about participants and build rapport.
• To consider the extent to which we communicate through body language.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Each participant will need to be provided with two cards. One with a large 'T' or 'True' written on it; the other with an 'F' or 'False' – available to download from Trainers’ Library.

Notes:
This exercise is ideally suited for use as an icebreaker for team training and teambuilding events. It can also provide an interesting introduction to any session on body language. It can even be used effectively to introduce equal opportunities/diversity training sessions.




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