Break the Ice–Warm them Up!

Break the Ice–Warm them Up!

Traditionally a workshop starter, the ice-breaker or warm-up activity is done at the beginning of your session. The same way you’d begin a physical workout with a few stretches or some cardio training, warm-up activities get people ready by stretching the mental muscles.

A good warm up activity:

  • Primes your participants for the learning ahead
  • Links with the theme of the session
  • Creates buzz for the session content
  • Stimulates reflection and thinking
  • Energizes participants
  • Encourages meaningful discussion


This activity can be a simple dyad exercise, a small group brainstorming or a large group problem-solving activity. My favorites come from Gary Kroehnert’s 100 Training Games. A simple Internet search with the keywords “Ice-breaker” and “Warm-up” activities yields a myriad of quick meaningful activities for all kinds of themes and events. I recently engaged session participants in a warm-up activity to untangle themselves as a large- group exercise about teamwork and teambuilding. The debriefing discussion hit all the key points we would be covering in the ensuing session. And participants had clearly gained much insight about teams and their own skills as team players from participating in this activity.

Ever thought about doing a warm-up activity at the start of your next meeting? Prime everyone for the session in a positive and energetic way–you just may find that they warm up to the idea of another team meeting!

-Kelly L. Howarth

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