Say NO to Icebreakers and YES to Hot Workshop Openers!

In the training industry the term “icebreakers” has been used for ages.  I recall reading an article where the author said “Why do we call them icebreakers? Are we assuming our audience needs to break the ice?” I completely agree as not all audiences need that, so what I like to open my workshops and training courses with is what I call “HOT Openers!”

It’s important to kickoff your session with a “get to know you exercise” or a fun way to “break the ice”. But what is often missing is the direct link to the topic at hand. I’m all for fun and connection, but it’s got to provide value add and be directly applicable,

When creating your “Hot Openers”, customize them to your topic or task at hand so your attendees get more value and see the direct link to what you are teaching.

Below are several Hot openers that are short, fun and customized to your topic so your attendees engage right way, and get immediate value.  Feel free to try them out and let me know how it goes!

Hot Workshop Openers to have your attendees do or answer:

  1. If you were a _________, what would you be and why? (e.g. When I did work with Arbonne International, a skin care/makeup company, we used this: “If you were a cosmetic product, which would you be and why?”  Example answer: “I would be blush because I feel I bring color to life”)
  2. Identify one of your Strengths & Area for improvements as it relates to the topic at hand. (e.g. For a workshop on Mastering Confrontation – “My strength is I’m a good listener but I could use improvement in dealing with difficult personalities”)
  3. What is one skill you have that makes you good at X topic?  Take a moment to draw that skill (then have them share their drawing and what skill it represents)  (E.g. For Communication workshop, if I am a creative thinker,  I might draw a light bulb. (Remind them that they won’t be graded on their artistic ability!)
  4. Laser Networking – meet as many people in the room in the next 3 minutes and share your name, where you live and one thing you love about the topic at hand (E.g. For a Creative Writing workshop – “I’m Jean from Boulder, CO and I love the freedom of expression writing brings to me”)
  5. Share a quality you possess that makes you good at the topic at hand and have it start with the first letter of your first name. (e.g. For a Project Management Training, “Hi I’m Debbie and I’m Dependable”)

Be sure to stay away from hot openers that are too personal. It’s ok to ask them to share a hobby, sport or interest outside of work, but stay away from deeper items at the start.

Lastly be careful not to start with something too heavy or negative in the beginning (e.g. biggest nightmare, failures, challenges…). Save for inside a module after the kickoff.

Looking for how best to customize your hot opener?  Feel free to call me at 303-413-8001 and I can help (Maybe one of these days I’ll install a “Hot Line for Workshop Exercises in a Pinch” 800 number 🙂

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