Ice Breakers

Before doing some workshop activities, it can be useful to make everyone relax, get to know each other and also to mix up the participants for group work. It can also be good to break up a Power Point heavy day with fun activities to get people out of their seats and awake. Some of these activities are designed to help participants to be more creative and think differently in subsequent group work and has shown to produce better results. Thinking differently is about making ‘creative connections’. It involves challenging, connecting and rearranging information in our mental valleys.

KLS professionals enjoying a group exercise
Time to get to know each other

Here is a selection of short ice breakers and methods of re-organising groups that you can select from, depending on time and the audience you have.

Making groups for groupwork

  • Allocate 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,1, etc as you go around the room to split into 4 groups quickly.
  • Make more fun by getting them to pick numbers from a bag, roll dice or choose coloured sweets or coloured post its etc

Ice Breakers

Give sweets/other rewards to the person or group with the best ideas.

Swiss Army Knife

  1. In 3 minutes write down as many attachments as you can that are in a Swiss Army knife. (Don’t let them see the rest of the instructions)
  2. Stop writing.
  3. Then in next 3 minutes write down a list of new attachments that you think would be a good idea.
  4. Use dot voting to get top 5 new ideas and share with rest of the room.

Helium Sticks

Requires 1 garden cane or long stick per group of 4-6 people. Stand in 2 rows facing each other with both index fingers pointing in front of them, alternately along the line. Facilitator places the stick across the fingers. The group are instructed to keep their fingers on the stick at all times but lower the stick to the floor. Make it a competition to see which group wins.

Spot the lie

Each person writes 2 interesting facts about themselves and 1 lie. Then take it in turns to read out the 3 and others guess which the lie is.

Who's who

Each person writes 5 facts about themselves on a piece of card. Split the room into 2 equal groups. Group 1 reads out the 5 facts in turn from 1 card from the other group, discussing after each clue, who it might be. Points awarded on how many clues it takes before they guess who’s who 5 points for guessing on first clue, 4 for 2nd clue etc.). Highest scoring team wins.

Other quick activities

Dot voting

Either stickers, ticks, or post-its can be used to let participants vote on what order to do some agenda items or to vote on which ideas (generated in a morning session) to discuss further after lunch or next meeting. You may want to distinguish who voted for what – you could give one staff group (eg: public librarians) green stickers and the other (NHS librarians) red ones, for example

End of meeting evaluation

A very quick way of evaluating the meeting is to give participants 2 different coloured post-its and to ask them to write on one post-it ‘What went well?’ and on the other colour ‘Would have been better if…’ Collect them all and write up and circulate with the minutes.