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Ice breaker

Puzzle Partners

Puzzle PartnersThe inspiration from this icebreaker came from my children’s games cupboard and it’s most effective in groups of about 20 people. What I like about this activity is that it requires participants to get out of their seats and interact, but also ends in a group discussion. To facilitate this ice breaker you‘ll need a children’s game of Associations, which are readily available in toy stores (and make a great investment if you deliver a lot of training).


  1. Count the number of participants and put a corresponding amount of matching puzzle pieces face-down and mixed up in a container. If there is an odd number of participants, include yourself in the activity, so that each person will have a partner.
  2. Each participant is invited to select a puzzle piece and then asked to leave their seats to locate the person with the matching puzzle piece.
  3. Once they’ve found their puzzle partner, participants must check that the pieces fit together and have a discussion about what they are hoping to achieve from the training, with the aim of reporting back to the group.
  4. During report back time, each participant is invited to introduce their puzzle partner to the group and tell the group about their partner’s expectations for the day.
  5. The facilitator may wish to call on a volunteer scribe to record these on some butcher’s paper or a whiteboard.

At the end of the activity participants should feel more relaxed and loosened up. There will also be a list of expectations that the facilitator can address in a segway to the first session of the day.

To learn more about the benefits of ice breakers in training sessions, click here.

Breaking the Ice

IceBreakersIce breakers are an essential tool in any trainer’s toolkit. They’re short, structured activities that are used to ‘break the ice’ in meetings or facilitation groups. Well-designed ice breakers are great for:

• Reducing tension
• Energising and motivating a group
• Helping people become more engaged in the proceedings
• Getting to know the other participants
• Creating a relaxed learning environment
• Generating conversations
• Creating a climate of participation

By the same token a badly designed ice breaker can go down like a lead balloon.

So what makes an ice breaker work? The activity must be thoughtfully selected, appropriate for the group, tailored to the audience and the duration of the ice breaker should be proportionate to the length of the session.

Over the coming weeks, I will be featuring some unique ice breakers that have worked well for me in different settings. Do you have any tried and tested ice breakers to share? If so, I’d love to hear from you.