Delivering Icebreakers, Energizers and Interactive Exercises

One of the most critical success factors to delivering high-impact workshops, seminars and presentation is creating an experiential learning environment for your attendees.  Effectively facilitating the exercises and interaction that creates the experiential environment is crucial to your workshop’s success.

Read about how adults learn and how best to deliver icebreakers, energizers and exercises to create a lasting impact on your attendees.


When delivering your workshop, it is important to understand how adults learn so that you can cater your delivery to different learning styles and keep the attention of your attendees.  There are three main ways adults tend to learn:

    1. Visual – learn by looking at images (seeing)
    2. Auditory – learn by listening (hearing)
    3. Kinesthetic – learn by experiencing (doing)

Some interesting facts to consider: 

  • Most children start out as Kinesthetic learners
  • They often develop Visual learning styles in 3rd grade
  • The Auditory learning style is nurtured in the 5th grade
  • Most Adults are visual and kinesthetic learners with a smaller percent of auditory learners
  • Adults retain less information they hear or see.  They learn best by doing.

Impact of Learning Style on Delivery

You can always anticipate that in your audience there will be a mix of learning styles.

So, what does this tell you about your workshop development and delivery?     

  • Keep your workshops highly interactive and experiential!
  • Vary your delivery methods to accommodate differing audience styles

The key questions to keep in mind when developing your content is:

  1. How can I best deliver this knowledge/content?
  2. What is the learning I want people to experience?
  3. What kind of interaction/exercise could I facilitate to achieve the learning?

Ways to Deliver Interaction and Experiential Learning

Any content you want to present can be made interactive.  Content can be delivered one of 3 ways:

  1. Present your info, and then facilitate an exercise – Present your knowledge/key points, and then move right into an exercise where your participants can apply the knowledge and acquire the learning. Debrief the learning and make the connection to the key points.
  2. Facilitate an exercise, then discuss the info through the learning – Start off by giving your attendees an exercise and through their experience, they acquire the learning (or not).  Debrief the learning and make connections to the key points. Either way, they will get the learning or realize they didn’t and learn from that.  Close by highlighting the key points.
  3. Facilitate an exercise – Give them an experience and through the experience, they get the learning.  No need for debrief or presenting of the ideas in advance. (Icebreakers are a great example of this)

Some Tactical Tips for Setting up and Closing Exercises

  • Be sure you have all the material you need for exercises. Missing a stopwatch for your exercise requiring 3 rounds of interaction impacts your delivery.  Forgetting a deck of cards for a scramble exercise is crucial.  Prepare in advance what you will need for each exercise and be sure you have it with you.
  • Articulate clear instructions and ask for clarification. When giving instructions, be very clear.  Anticipate questions and ask for clarification at the end.  Be sure everyone understands what is expected before diving into the exercise.  It is more difficult to get the group’s attention after you have started the exercise.
  • Observe and walk around the room during the exercise if appropriate. Notice how attendees are performing the exercise.  Coach them if necessary to ensure the learning.  Make observations along the way and raise them during the debrief if appropriate.
  • Watch the time and hold yourself to your instructions. Write down the time at which you started the exercise and how long you stated the exercise would last.  Stick to those times and when delivering multiple rounds, be sure to give each round equal time.
  • Be flexible when you notice the dynamics changing. If you notice attendees do not have enough time in the interaction to get the learning, be flexible and review the agenda to see if it makes sense to extend the agenda.
  • Ensure full participation during debrief. If you notice some attendees laying low during the debrief, find ways to solicit their feedback (without putting them on the spot).  You might refer to a particular group and ask them what they learned.
  • Have each attendee commit to one action item before moving on. The learning is only as good when it is directly applied after the workshop.  Before moving on, have each attendee commit to one action item they will take on out of their participation in the exercise.

Key Takeaway Points

  • Practice your instruction giving. Missing one small point in your instructions can make or break an exercise.  Take time in advance and practice giving your instructions.  It will truly make a difference when you deliver it.
  • Save enough time for instruction, interaction and debrief. Exercises often take longer than you think.  Allocate enough time for you to give the instructions, for the interaction to take place and for the debrief to capture the learning fully.
  • Seek support and ask for help. You do not have to do this alone.  Seek out the support you need! You may be pleasantly surprised with all the people who want to help you.  See more info on Workshop Coaching under Our Courses.
  • Have fun and follow your energy & passion!! Go with where you aliveness is and you won’t be lead astray!  Remember, people want to learn from people who are passionate and energized about their topic.