What are icebreakers & energizers?
An icebreaker is an activity or game designed to welcome attendees and warm up the conversation among participants at the beginning of the session.
Energizers are activities used to help participants be more alert and active during sessions.
Objectives of icebreakers & energizers
Icebreakers help ensure that all participants are fully present and engaged in the session.
Energizers increase participants' level of energy, usually through movement, and support the oxygenation of their brains, which increases their level of alertness and attention.
When should you run icebreakers & energizers?
- Icebreakers are great at the beginning of the session to get people talking, generate laughter, and help participants start with an initial level of comfort, even when they don't know each other.
- Energizers can be used at any given time during the session, and they are particularly effective after breaks, after a theoretical part in the session, or after the participants have sustained their focus for a long period of time on a certain task.
How to use this template
Here are the agenda blocks included in this template:
1. Collective Doodle 🖍
Time: 10 minutes
Tools: Music Playlist, Whiteboard
As the session starts and you welcome everyone in the room, have the whiteboard open and the music playing.
As participants join, they will instantly land on the whiteboard and be able to scribble.
Add this instruction on the whiteboard as a text box:
Collectively draw what "connection in virtual spaces" means to you. But there's a catch: each new doodle needs to connect, or start from another doodle.
Feel free to change the question prompt based on the event you are running. Be the one to start a doodle, and see what happens.
Debrief with one or two questions (e.g. How did it feel to draw something collectively and anonymously? How have the instructions constrained or freed your imagination?).
2. Networking with a twist 😁
Time: 20 minutes
Tools: Polls, Breakouts
Launch an open-ended, anonymous poll and allow for voting. The poll question is: "What would you ask a stranger to create a meaningful connection, fast?"
Invite everyone to vote for their preferred questions. Close the poll and take note of the 3 questions with the most votes.
Next, create breakout rooms of 3 participants, and give them 5 min. each round to answer one of the questions.
We recommend doing a max of 3 rounds in total. Each round comes with a new question from the poll you just did. Don't forget to reshuffle the participants before opening the breakouts again.
Once the time is up, participants will land back in the main room. Ask your participants how it was and let them share a couple of insights or things that most surprised them.
3. Spectrum Questions ⚖️
Time: 20 minutes
Tools: Miro Board or Mural
Let participants know you're going to be reading out a prompt and that they’ll then place a stamp on the Flashcard on a spectrum: from strongly disagree to strongly agree.
As you start asking your prompts, invite participants at opposite sides of the spectrum to share why they are placed where they are.
Important: Don't forget to add a different affirmation on each flashcard before the session.
4. Dance Roulette 💃
Time: 5 minutes
Tools: Music Playlist
This energizer is the perfect way to get everyone moving and having fun!
Invite the participants to turn their cameras on and stand. Ask for a volunteer, or start yourself!
The rules of the game are simple: you will start the music and spotlight one participant at a time, randomly.
The spotlighted participant will need to pick a dance move, and everyone else will need to "follow the leader" and copy that move. After 5-7 seconds, spotlight another person who will pick another move.
Continue for 1-2 minutes, or until everyone is energized and smiling.
5. Treasure Hunt 🎁
Time: 8 minutes
This is a great energizer that can also be used as an icebreaker.
Go into gallery view and tell participants you’re about to name a ‘treasure’ they must find in their physical space and show it to the camera. They have one minute to find each treasure.
Start the Flashcards, and name each treasure and say GO while starting the one minute timer.
When they’re all back, have them hold up their items and call out a few interesting ones.
6. GIF battle 🥊
Time: 8 minutes
Here’s another fun energizer that will make everyone smile 😁
Invite everyone to take the "superhero pose" (stand tall, look up, and hands on their waist), and imagine they are about to enter a battle with a mighty opponent.
The battle will take place in the chat, so ask them to head over there.
You will then open the Flashcards, and read aloud the different prompts. The participants will need to post a GIF in the chat to react to your prompt.
Here are a couple of examples, but you can make your own:
- That Monday morning feeling.
- Me when someone is not sneezing in their elbow.
- My kids after Halloween: "Where are all our sweets?" - Me:
- Accidentally hitting "reply all" on a company-wide email.
- Day 28th of lockdown
You can also close by adding a couple of statements related to the topic of the event.
7. Fortunately, Unfortunately 😅
Time: 10 minutes
This is a great icebreaker or energizer inspired by improv.
Create groups of 3-4. If participants don't know each other, allow time for a short introduction.
In breakouts, the group proceeds to tell a story, with each person saying one sentence at a time.
Here’s the catch: each sentence must start with either “fortunately” or “unfortunately,” always alternating between them.
Once everyone is back in the main room, harvest the most fun or creative stories before moving on.
About the creator
Anamaria Dorgo is the Head of Community at Butter. Her mission is to create a space where facilitators, workshoppers, trainers, design thinkers, and innovation and strategy consultants can team up, share best practices, tackle challenges collectively, and accelerate their careers together with like-minded people. 🙌