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Garry Platt


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Trainer Tools #7 – Breaking ice and building rapport: three quick and easy techniques


"How much effort we put into the very first part of training courses, in breaking the ice and building rapport, can directly impact the effectiveness of the rest of the day. This is especially true if you rely on input from learners and seek to create a social environment where people learn from each other, not just the trainer at the front.

Jon Kersey always invests time here, more so than any other trainer I work with, and in this podcast he shares his three favourite techniques."

6 Responses

  1. Breaking Ice

    Can we put "Ice Breakers" and "Breaking Ice" in the same dustbin as "Soft Skills"?

    I have yet to meet anyone arriving at a training course that needed "warming up" and most attempts at doing so send shivers down their spine!

    And don't get me started on the energizer after lunch because everyone is "sluggish"


  2. Mmmmm interesting response Steve…

    Without getting into a debate about icebreakers and their usefulness (or what they should be like or soft skills)… I would love to know then how you prepare your learners to learn and get them into the right state for the day(s) ahead?

    In my experience, setting expectations, being clear on the objectives and getting the learners acquainted can really help learners who may be nervous about any aspect of the experience to come. Any activities I do, are always linked to the learning that is coming.

    My soft start to a day begins with people coming into the room with a cup of coffee or tea, adding their own objectives to a flipchart. Looking at the resources and posters, introducing themselves to each other. During this time, we chat about the overall objectives, the agenda and clarify any expectations. After about 20 minutes we are usually to start with the first activity.


  3. Washing machine approach

    Put delegates in washing machine

    Close door

    Full spin cycle 2 minutes

    Red light comes on and door clicks open

    Delegates tumble out bemused

    Delegates ruffle hair, straighten clothes

    Delegates take a seat…

    And we begin


    …or we could stand on one leg and say something silly about ourselves for "fun"


  4. Learning is a social activity

    Learning is a social activity, at least it is in the training room – or at least it should be – or at least it is one of the main advantages of getting people together for a period of time away from their desks, so we should maximise the social nature of it to enhance the experience and improve learning.

    Also, the group dynamic is different from simply a cluster of individuals, and this creates a need for learners to feel included whilst retaining an element of control. So there is value in working on these needs before diving straight into the content of the course.

    However, I don't agree with having lengthy distinct ice-breakers at the start (unless they are also a useful introduction to the skills and knowledge of the course), and in this I disagree to some extent with Jon on the podcast.

    I prefer to build rapport throughout the early parts of the course in lots of little ways rather one big distinct activity.

  5. Nice and gentle…

    If the group doesn't look like they could cope with a full on spin cycle there is always the softly softly approach…Emotion Cards are nice, gentle way to start of a session…




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Garry Platt

Senior Consultant

Read more from Garry Platt

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