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7 fun icebreakers for Agile workshops & trainings

When running workshops or trainings, especially with new teams, it's a great idea to spend a few minutes breaking the ice and helping participants feel at ease. A good icebreaker should be short (10 minutes or less), help connect people, be fun, and easy to execute. It's essential to avoid icebreakers that might unintentionally spark conflict (e.g., discussing politics, religion, or other sensitive topics) or make people uncomfortable (e.g., asking about childhood nicknames might be challenging for someone who grew up in a dysfunctional family or without parents).
In this blog post, we'll introduce several safe, fun, and engaging icebreakers that you can use with both distributed and co-located teams. These activities are designed to create a relaxed atmosphere and foster connections between participants, setting the stage for a successful workshop or training session. So, let's dive in and explore these seven icebreakers perfect for Agile workshops and trainings!

Icebreaker #1: "Where would you like to travel to the most?"

How to:
Begin by showing a map and asking participants to place a pin on their dream travel destination. Then, have them say a few words about why they want to go there. For Zoom meetings, you can use the annotate tool and project a map on the screen, while for in-person meetings, you can print out a map and provide small pins or stickers.
Why it works:
This icebreaker sparks positive conversations and helps people bond over shared dreams and interests. Participants learn a little about each other's personal side and have a safe space to disclose their family situation if they wish. By sharing as much about their personal lives as they're comfortable with, team members can forge connections that contribute to a more relaxed and productive workshop or training session.
As for me...
I dream about going back to Raja Ampat, the best scuba diving location I've ever been to!

Icebreaker #2: "Your Next Hobby"

How to:
Kick off the conversation by asking participants to share which hobby they would like to pick up next if they had enough time and resources. Encourage others to ask questions, make comments, and engage in the conversation with excitement.
Why it works:
Discussing current hobbies might be sensitive for some, as not everyone has a hobby or feels comfortable sharing personal details. But talking about the next hobby allows for more flexibility and fun! Participants can choose to chat about their current hobby (like, "I just want to continue my current hobby, which is...") or imagine a future one they're comfortable sharing.
This icebreaker helps create an engaging atmosphere, as seeing someone passionate about their interests can be infectious and helps others relate to them on a human level. Plus, there's a chance people with similar interests will find each other, fostering connections within the group and making the workshop or training more enjoyable for everyone.
As for me...
I am considering technical diving or underwater photography. So I'm very much into diving, how about you? :)

Icebreaker #3: "Song You Want to Be Played When You Enter the Room"

How to:
Ask each participant to choose a song they'd like to be played when they enter a room, as if they were making a grand entrance. They can briefly explain their choice or even hum a few bars if they're feeling brave. Encourage others to react, share their thoughts, and engage in a lighthearted conversation.
Why it works:
This icebreaker taps into everyone's inner rock star, allowing them to express a part of their personality through their chosen song. It sparks fun, engaging conversations and gets people talking about their music preferences, which can lead to discovering common interests and connections. The activity also helps to create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, setting the stage for a productive workshop or training session. Plus, it's a fantastic way to learn a little bit more about each person's unique taste in music and have some laughs along the way.
As for me...
Can you please put on Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'"?

Icebreaker #4: "Share a Lifehack"

How:
Invite participants to share their favorite lifehack, whether it's related to work, housekeeping, taxes, or any other aspect of life. Encourage everyone to ask questions, share opinions, and engage in a lively discussion about the shared tips and tricks.
Why it works:
This icebreaker offers insights into each person's priorities, interests, and problem-solving skills. It can help you understand the individuals within the team and the areas they find important. Plus, it's an excellent opportunity to exchange useful information that might benefit everyone involved.
Sharing lifehacks sparks conversations and helps to elevate the group's energy levels. As participants learn from one another, they're also building connections and a sense of camaraderie. By exchanging practical advice, team members can establish trust and rapport, setting the stage for a successful workshop or training session.
As for me...
I gamify all the major goals I set for myself by breaking them into smaller milestones and rewarding myself for each milestone I achieve

Icebreaker #5: "Today I Learned"

How:
Invite participants to share a fascinating fact or piece of information they've recently discovered. It doesn't have to be something they learned today—any recent discovery will do! Encourage everyone to listen, ask questions, and engage in a discussion about these interesting tidbits.
Why it works:
This icebreaker is an excellent way to learn about each person's interests and the types of information sources they consume. It offers insights into what excites them and what topics they find intriguing. Sharing these discoveries can spark curiosity within the group and encourage a lively exchange of ideas. It can stimulate conversation and create a relaxed atmosphere for the workshop or training session. Plus, you might just walk away with some newfound knowledge that'll come in handy later!
As for me...
I recently learned that Australian white ibis stresses a poisonous cane toad to make it release toxins, then washes the poison off to have a perfectly safe meal. What is cool is that it's a learned behavior because cane toads were only introduced into Australia in 20th century, so ibises have figured out the new technique and spread the knowledge. Here's an article about it.

Icebreaker #6: "As a Kid, I Used to Think That..."

How:
Encourage participants to share amusing misconceptions or beliefs they held when they were children. To kick things off, you might want to start by sharing your own funny childhood misunderstanding to get everyone in the mood to share and laugh together.
Why it works:
This icebreaker is lighthearted, fun, and generally quite safe. We've all been kids, and most of us have believed in things that turned out to be untrue or had funny misunderstandings about the world. Sharing these stories can bring laughter and a sense of unity to the group.
As participants reminisce about their childhoods, they connect on a personal level and learn about the kind of kids their teammates used to be. This sharing of stories can help to break down barriers and create a friendly, relaxed atmosphere in which everyone feels comfortable opening up and engaging with one another.
As for me...
I used to misunderstand lyrics in many songs and make up my own weird versions, but since it was not in English I won't even try to share it here.
I also used to thing that "foreign language" is yet another language, just like English language or French language. It seemed to be the most promising one to me, as it seemed that many more people are speaking foreign languages than French or Italian.

Icebreaker #7: "Your Spirit Animal"

How:
Ask everyone to share what they consider to be their spirit animal or animal avatar and explain why they feel a connection to that animal. If you have internet access during the session, encourage participants to find and share a picture that represents their chosen animal.
Why it works:
Each animal carries a perceived personality, which may vary across different cultures. For example, a fox could be seen as wise, magical, or sneaky, while a donkey might be considered hardworking or stubborn. When people share their spirit animal, they reveal something about themselves and how they perceive their own character traits.
Additionally, sharing pictures of the chosen animals can add another layer of insight into the person's character. For example, if someone says their spirit animal is a tiger and then shares a picture of a tiger sleeping and exposing its belly like an adorable kitten, it provides a deeper understanding of their personality and how they see themselves. This exercise helps participants form a mental image of each other, fostering connection and understanding within the group.
As for me...
As much as I'm a fan of the Australian ibis (see #5 above), I think my spirit animal is the octopus. They have the incredible ability to both blend into their surroundings and stand out when necessary. Octopuses are among the most curious animals I've ever encountered, and they love exploring the world around them. Also, the idea of having eight arms (each with its own mini-brain) and being able to get more work done is very enticing!
In conclusion, I hope you've found some useful icebreaker ideas in this blog post. Remember, they are all designed to be simple and straightforward – that's exactly how icebreakers should be! There's no need to overthink or complicate things.
While it's important not to spend too much time on icebreakers, it's equally essential to give participants a moment to connect and feel at ease. By incorporating these engaging and easy-to-use icebreakers into your Agile workshops and trainings, you'll foster a more open and comfortable environment for everyone involved.
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