We’ve all been there. “OK everybody, we’re going to start off the day with an icebreaker.” Moan, grunt…
When used properly, energisers (ice breakers), team games…whatever name you choose, can add tremendous value to any event. They can also allow for further learning in addition to the traditional energizing benefits.
These are five secrets to correctly using them.
These items can be sold to the group
Super trainers need to motivate their students to learn. Even more selling is required for energizers. People have created barriers to energisers because of their past experiences and preconceptions. This is why I will explain how we can get around it.
Selling is all about selling. The golden rule when it comes to overcoming objections is to prevent the objection from arising.
This is also true when you sell the energiser. It is important to remember that the next 10 minute will not only benefit your energy and help you get to know the group better, but I have included key messages to help you learn the key benefits motivation, the 5 steps of cold calling, or whatever else you might be teaching them.
Keep the subject in your mind.
Choose an energiser that is relevant to your subject. It doesn’t matter how tentative the link is, as long as the group gets something of value and not just a lot of fun.
This is especially important for learners who are pragmatists or higher up in the organisation’s “food chain”. Also, explain to them that they will learn from the active nature.
They are not icebreakers or energisers, as these can have negative associations for many people. Instead, consider them an activity that teaches the topic.
Treat them as chocolate
My 14-year-old son loves chocolate and will eat it all. He can get carried away with chocolate, but he is not the only one who can do that. Although chocolate is delicious and filling, too much can make you sick. Just ask my son.
The same goes for too many energisers. It can lead to group sickness. This does not happen physically, although it can. However, too many gimmicks can make you mentally tired and sick. Avoid the chocolate connection.
These can be used to help you transition.
Microsoft has been widely criticised over the years because of their PowerPoint software program, which many people use with all the bells & whistles. You can find text all over the place and there are ugly transitions between slides. PowerPoint professionals are good at ensuring consistency in their transitions, so that the audience knows when you’re changing topics. Good presenters announce and signpost when they are transitioning.
You can also use well-thought out energisers for transitioning your topics. You might choose energisers to summarize key learnings at end of session or to introduce key aspects at beginning of session. This is where energisers are most useful. They provide consistency and help to achieve your goals.
Make sure you know your goal
I have seen energisers used at seminars and conferences where the trainer clearly lifted one from the book 101 Icebreakers. They chose it because they liked it. This is fine, but it’s unfortunate that they have such poor reputations from business audiences. Let me show you.
This strategy will allow you to achieve your goals for the day, not just 20 minutes of downtime after lunch, but all day.
What do you mean by aims?
1. Be more energetic in your body
2. Have they had their brains warmed up
3. For intensive learning, slow them down.
4. You can individually energise them.
This is what we will get if we plot it on a good old-fashioned management style graph.
The vertical line indicates a high or low level of physical activity. I call this physicability. It is a dial between using your brain and using your body. The horizontal line details the amount of energising and energability. Are you aiming for them to be energized or the reverse?
The group will be slowed down if they are doing little physical or energising activities. If they get too wild, this might be a good idea. My audience consists of sales people who are naturally overheated. Sometimes we need to calm them down to impart some learning or to convey a serious message. A group activity, such as a serious and intelligent quiz that they answer and then pass on to their neighbor for marking. The questions could be linked to the subject, why?, or another challenging quiz.
Your group will feel energized and strong if you have a low-energy, high-physical leader. It’s not too exciting, but it will warm up the group. The activity will be done in groups and involve some physical challenges, but not too much energy. For example, the nail activity requires them to stack three inch nails on top one nail that has been hammered into a piece wood.
You might consider energising individuals’ brains, not their bodies. You will choose the highest energising, but lowest on physical quiz such as the Premiership Football Quiz or 10 Question Brit Quiz. Then you can put them in teams and use the flipchart to determine the “scores at the doors”. You can buy silly toys at the store that emit different sounds to help you energise quickly. Don’t let them run wild like Mike Read. This is meant to spark their minds.
We have finally found everyone’s favorite, the high-energising and intense physical activity games. They are loved by trainers, but they are hated by most people. They can achieve the desired effect. There are hundreds of games that can be made from balloons, string, paper, and blindfolds. You can also spend thousands on pre-purchased activity games that are available from many training organizations and ready to go.
Take a bow
Energisers can be very helpful and will help you achieve your conference or workshop goals. Spend some time thinking about why you need them. Connect them to your topic and sell them well. It’s the icebreaker!
When used properly, energisers (ice breakers), team games, whatever you want to call them, can add tremendous value to an event. They can also allow for further learning, in addition to the traditional energizing benefits.