Six More Training Icebreaker Questions That Begin With “Would You Rather…?”

Would you rather?

An effective icebreaker accomplishes three things:

  1. Attendees are introduced to one another
  2. The energy in the room picks up
  3. Attendees begin to think about the session’s topic (preferably in a fun, light-hearted way)

A quick game of “Would you rather…” can help break the ice at your next meeting or presentation by challenging participants to think about a pair of seemingly absurd choices, and then justify why they chose a particular option. It can shed some light on the mindset of each participant and can lead to a lot of laughter in the process.

Plus, who doesn’t like to have the sweet sound of laughter coming from their meeting room?

Previously I shared ten potential “Would you rather…” icebreaker questions. Here are six more:

Would you rather…

  1. …be scheduled to deliver a 90 minute presentation at 1:00pm (immediately after lunch) OR at 5:30pm (when everyone wants to go home)?
  2. …be able to shoot actual lasers out of your laser pointer OR have to dodge actual bullets every time a bullet point appears on a PowerPoint slide?
  3. …have a face that is a functioning clock OR have hair made entirely out of neon pink post-it notes?
  4. …be chased around the room by a giant, radioactive LCD projector as you try to set up for your presentation OR actually be married to Mr. Sketch?
  5. …only be able to respond to people and situations with the first thought that pops into your head OR only be able to speak in the form of a question during your presentation?
  6. …realize (much too late) that your suitcase was switched with Lady Gaga’s and all you have to wear for your keynote speech is a suit made out of raw meat OR wake up to discover the only way you can get from point A to point B is by moonwalking?

Do you have additional “Would you rather…?” type icebreaker questions? Let’s see ‘em in the comments section.

10 Training Icebreaker Questions that Begin with: Would You Rather…?

At home and in long car rides, my family has discovered that playing a game called “Would you rather…?” is a fun way to pass the time.

In “Would you rather…?” you’re given a choice between two options. For example: would you rather have four eyes or four ears? It’s not both/and. You can’t say “neither.”  You must choose one, and then explain why you chose it.

This game makes a fun icebreaker/energizing activity in the training room. Next time you’re looking to get some conversation going in your training room, try one of these:

  1. Would you rather reach into your training supplies to find that all of your markers are dry OR reach into your briefcase and find that you forgot to bring you handouts?
  2. Would you rather lose your voice on the morning of your presentation OR walk into the presentation room and be informed that the projector bulb blew and it cannot be replaced?
  3. Would you rather present in a room where the temperature is stuck at 85 degrees OR 58 degrees?
  4. Would you rather show up to a ballroom (or large meeting room) to find that only 3 really enthusiastic people decided to come to your training session OR show up to the meeting room to find wall-to-wall attendees who      refuse to say a word during your presentation?
  5. Would you rather get the hiccups in the middle of the most important presentation of your career OR pass gas (loudly) at the beginning of every staff meeting you attend?
  6. Would you rather give the same presentation to a different audience twice a day day for the next month OR give a different presentation to the same audience every day for the next year?
  7. Would you rather use jazz hands throughout the entirety of your next presentation OR deliver your next presentation using dirty limericks?
  8. Would you rather co-facilitate with the Janice character from Friends OR give constructive criticism to Tony Soprano on how to be more inclusive in his decision-making processes?
  9. Would you rather kick off your next presentation after getting the worst haircut of your life OR spill coffee all over your shirt 2 minutes before your presentation is set to begin?
  10. Would you rather speak like Donald Duck OR giggle uncontrollably every time you say the word “but”?

Do you have a great “Would you rather…?” question that would make for a fun icebreaker/energizer? Add it to the comments section.

Icebreaker: The 6-word Memoir (and a Variation)

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway used six words to pen his shortest work of fiction: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Whether true or not (Snopes.com can neither confirm nor deny this is a true story), trainers and presenters have been inspired by this anecdote to break the ice by challenging attendees to write their own 6-word memoirs.

It works quite well. About a year and a half ago, I watched as the CEO of my organization opened a 2-day meeting of about 60 surgeons, medical professionals and administrators from across the United States, India, Nepal and Ethiopia with this very activity. Attendees wrote their 6-word memoirs on flip chart, posted them around the meeting room and referred back to them throughout the 2-day meeting.

(If you’re interested, this is the 6-word memoir that I penned: “Love is cookie dough ice cream.”)

A Modern Take On A Classic Icebreaker

The 6-word memoir works as an icebreaker because it’s quick, it forces participants to be succinct as they introduce themselves, yet you can learn so much about someone in just six words.

For those that want a fresh spin on an icebreaker that’s quick and forces participants to be succinct yet can say a lot about a person, you can look to Twitter for inspiration. Challenge learners to share their life story in 140 characters or less. One note about this challenge: you can make this task a little easier on your participants if you give them a worksheet with 140 boxes so that they don’t spend valuable session time trying to count each letter (and space).

Have an activity that you find works extremely well to break the ice with a variety of audiences? Please do share in the comment section below!

Training Tips: De-briefing an Icebreaker

Icebreaking activities and energizers should always be de-briefed, or else they’re just wasting participants’ valuable time.

When I led workshops with professionals in the foster care system, I would often use an icebreaking activity that required participants to close their eyes and, as a group the participants were given instructions to count up to 15.  However, if two (or more) participants spoke at the same time, they would have to start all over.  This is a surprisingly difficult challenge, and after about 5 minutes of counting, re-starting, and counting again, I allowed participants to open their eyes.  This made the challenge a little easier, and after one or two more attempts, most groups would be able to count from 1 to 15 without two or more participants speaking up at the same time.

Once this activity was completed, I simply asked: what do you think this activity has to do with the foster care system?  It got participants thinking and offering all sorts of answers.  The answers participants offered during this icebreaking activity were then referred to over and over again throughout the remainder of the multi-day session.

When I led youth leadership conferences, I watched in awe as a colleague held the attention of 50 6th and 7th grade students packed onto a tour bus, rolling through the streets of Washington, DC, with this simple activity:

“Right now, we’re driving by the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on the left-hand side of the bus.  There is a frozen yogurt machine in the center of the building.  Do any of you know why there is a frozen yogurt machine in the center of the building?”

The students began to shout out answers such as:

  • “President Reagan loved jelly beans.  Maybe they have jelly bean-flavored frozen yogurt.”
  • “Frozen yogurt is supposed to be healthier than ice cream.  Maybe it’s an ironic commentary on President Reagan’s nutrition program. Reagan tried to label ketchup as a vegetable.”

Whether the activity is counting while having your eyes closed or coming up with reasons that a frozen yogurt machine would be located in a federal building or something equally as stimulating, simply asking participants to attempt to connect the activity to the topic at hand can lead to conversations that are fun and relevant.

The Train Like A Champion blog is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  These brief “Training Tip” posts are a series of quick reference tips that are published while your beloved Train Like A Champion blogger is currently enjoying a little vacation.  The more in-depth posts will resume again in August.

Is Your Training Icebreaker Any Good?

I was going to post my top 5 training icebreakers.  Then I remembered that if I give you icebreakers, you can break the ice for a day.  But if I teach you how to design a good icebreaking activity, you can break the ice for a lifetime!  Here are five questions to ponder when designing training icebreakers:

Question 1: Is your icebreaker relevant?

Fun and relevant don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  When I used to facilitate workshops for professionals working in the foster care system, I used to begin sessions by asking people their names, positions, organizations, tenure and favorite ice cream.  Asking tenure as part of the icebreaking question set can be helpful, especially if you add everyone’s experience together (“Wow, we have a combined 147 years of training experience in this room.  While I’ll try to offer you some great insights over the next two days, I obviously don’t hold a monopoly on training experience.  Let’s make sure we learn from one another over these next two days.”).  But ice cream doesn’t have much to do with the topic at hand.  One of my colleagues tweaked the question to be: what is your favorite children’s book?  This helped us tap into the topic at hand (working with youth) and could be used in a variety of ways later (ie.: how many children’s books actually feature characters from diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds?  Well, let’s talk about how this can impact the messages received by children of color…).

Question 2: Will your icebreaker be talked about after the “welcome and introduction” activities?

Recently, I designed an icebreaker that asked 70 participants to get out of their seats, take a marker, and write answers to various questions (“One thing I forgot to do before coming here was…”, “This training will be successful if…”, “One word that describes my biggest challenge is…”) posted on flipcharts around the conference room.  One participant wrote the word “believe” in response to a question and it turned into a theme mentioned by every facilitator (and a number of participants) throughout the remainder of the 2-day meeting.  Icebreakers can be fun, and a good de-brief adds value to the icebreaking activity.

Question 3: Does your icebreaker actually engage people?

We’ve all attended training sessions where a facilitator has thrown an icebreaker at us that either isn’t interesting or just really seems to force the idea of breaking the ice.  An icebreaker doesn’t need to be forced.  A simple question related to the overall topic at hand can break the ice while allowing every participant to hear from everyone else.

Question 4: Is your icebreaker customized?

I’ve attended too many training sessions where the same icebreaking activity is used.  “Turn to your neighbor, introduce yourself… now everyone introduce their neighbor.”  Introductions are good.  But a little effort and creativity can put a fresh spin on an old activity.  If it’s a sales training, then maybe adjust this activity to be: “Turn to your neighbor, introduce yourself… now everyone sell us on why their neighbor is the most interesting person in the room.”  You get the point, find the central theme of your topic and then tweak an old icebreaker to fit your topic.

Question 5: Do others want to steal your icebreaker and bring it to their own audiences?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  You know you’ve come up with a winning icebreaking activity when participants ask for a copy of your icebreaker activity instructions. Any time you design an icebreaking activity, a good guiding question is: if I was in my own audience, would I want to steal this icebreaker and use it someplace else?

Your Train Like A Champion Blog author is suffering from an intractable case of jetlag following a business trip to India last week.  I’ll be taking some time off from writing this week, but I will be back next Monday.  In the mean time, if you think someone else might find this blog interesting, please pass it along.  If you have blog ideas, email me at bpwashburn@gmail.com.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow” at the top of the page!

A 17-syllable Icebreaker Can Reveal A Lot

In the beginning

I want to know my learners

Their Challenge: Haiku

 

I model the task

I’m not “too good” to do this

I write on flipchart

Haiku

 

My haiku reveals

I really like Mr. Sketch

And lifelong learning

 

Breaking the ice – smiles

Or sometimes they roll their eyes

But now I know them

 

Their expectations

Their subject matter knowledge

Three intriguing lines

 

Use this icebreaker

The next time you meet learners

What will they reveal?

 

Actually, don’t wait!

Leave a comment in haiku

What is your story?

 

You may also like 6-Word Memoir as a concise way to break the ice!