Ice Breakers for Use in Business, ELS and Classroom Lessons

What are Ice Breakers?
Ice Breakers

Ice breakers are an effective way of starting a training session, classroom lesson or team-building event. In a teaching context, they are usually an activity or game, that helps people to get to know each other before the body of the lesson commences.

Keep reading and click on the links to get your free resources below!

Why Use Ice Breakers?

Ice breakers are such an important part of your workplace / classroom teaching strategy. Especially if you are dealing with learners that don't know each other, or don't know you (as the teacher) very well. Even if they do know each other, they have real value, as they can discover things about the person next to them that they had no idea about. All great stuff for breaking down stereotypes and making people think more about people that they don't engage with normally.

Business Communication, Workplace Training

During my time as a workplace trainer ice breakers were my favorite tool to get people over their nerves, laughing and talking. 

As an example, I would walk into a room full of 8 to 10 workers who would generally not meet my gaze. If I could read minds, I suspect that their thoughts would be somewhere along the lines of "What does this white, middle class, female think she can teach me that will help me in my job. I'm here because my boss told me to come - I'll just do my time." I loved the challenge of breaking down their stereotype of me and it all started with the ice-breaker activities, where we got to know just a little bit more about each other - they were often surprised at some of my experiences and as a result they started to trust me, which lead to better learning outcomes all round.

As teachers / facilitators we want people to be in a relaxed state so that they are most open to learning new ideas, and confident enough to participate in discussions. A good ice breaker will put them in that state and set the tone for an engaging, fun and informative learning session. 

You can get creative and make up your own ice-breakers, or you can download some of the free ice-breaker activities that I've tried and tested below.

What are examples of Ice Breakers?

Here are my three favorite Ice Breaker Activities:

1. Two Truths and a Lie (2 Truths and 1 Lie)

This can be played with a small or large group.

Ask your learners to write down (and keep to themselves) three statements about themselves. Two of the statements will be true and one of the statements will be a lie.

Once that's done, nominate someone to start the game. They can read out their statements, or if available write them up on a whiteboard for all to see.

Everyone should then guess which statement they think is a lie. Once everyone has given their answer, you can reveal the correct and incorrect statements. Then it is the next persons turn. Check out the video below:

2. First Impressions

Put participants into pairs and have them exchange their names as a general introduction.

Explain that you are going to ask participants to guess their partners personal preferences. You as the facilitator, will call out items and participants will write their guesses on paper.

For example, you may ask: What would you guess is your partner's favorite TV Show, color, music type, band, sport, hobby, social media platform, etc.

Give participants time to write each answer. When you have gone through the list, ask participants to share their guesses with their partners.

After participants have had a couple of minutes to share their guesses, you could further prompt the discussion by asking leading questions, such as:

  • What did you base your guesses on?
  • Did everyone guess everything wrong?
  • Did anyone guess everything right?

The purpose of this exercise is to introduce participants to each other and help them to understand the impact of first impressions. First impressions are often misleading. When we start a negotiation, the guesses we make about another person can lead to false assumptions about what the person wants.

First Impressions when meeting business people

3. Things in Common

This activity is for learners to get to know more about each other. It can be used as a warmer or ice breaker at the beginning of a lesson.

They need to mingle and talk to other people in the class to find out anything that they may have in common.

Works well for a speaking activity. Is a lot of fun!

ice breaker

For more resources that you can use in the classroom, and in the workplace to ensure that your learners get off to a great start, click the links below:

Ice Breaker

Visit my store for resources that will save you time and money. Complete and no prep.