This icebreaker is most useful for medium- to large-sized groups (10-30 participants). Allocate at least 45 minutes for this icebreaker.
Early stages of group development are often characterized by pronounced participant attention paid to the "authority" present in the group. In training programs, that authority is often represented (or brought) by the trainer/facilitator. The following activity works with this dynamic as it helps participants learn as much as possible about the trainer(s) in as short a time possible. In addition, this activity helps participants come to know one another better through introductions and attention paid to one another's questions.
The main goal of this icebreaker is to help participants work with, and gain comfort with, each other and with the trainer(s).
By the time participants complete this icebreaker, they will be able to describe:
- The names and affiliations of others in the training;
- The background of the trainer(s)/facilitator(s) and the relevancy of that background to the training-as-a-whole;
- Personal characteristics of the trainer that may impact the course of learning throughout the training or facilitation event.
- Specific nuances of the training that do not emerge during discussion of the training agenda;
- Specific aspects of the training design intended to maximize their personal "safety" as they participate "at their own level" in activities, discussions, and opportunities for personal disclosure;
- Answers to any other questions they may have about the training and/or the facilitator(s).
1. Display the following newsprint for participants:
- Trainer "News Conference"
- Purpose: To help us get to know one another better and answer any questions you may have about your trainer(s).
- Setting: A briefing room near you!
2. Break participants into several groups of from four to six people each.
3. Display your own versions of the following newsprints after folks have "settled down":
- Task One: Introduce yourselves to others in your group including names, affiliations, and one thing people wouldn't know about you if you didn't tell them. Take ten minutes for these introductions.
- Task Two: Work within your group to think of 2-4 questions (depending upon number of sub-groups) you would like to ask your trainer(s) to help you know them better and better understand their hopes for this training (any questions about the training itself should be moved to another sheet of newsprint to be addressed after this opening activity). You will have ten minutes to come up with your questions.
Trainer Note: essentially what you're doing here is working to keep questions focused on the person(s) of the trainer(s) rather than on the mechanics of the training itself.
4. After the second ten minutes, set up chairs in the front of the room (one chair per trainer) facing the back of the room. Ask participants to arrange their chairs to face the trainers chairs (to look like a news conference!).
5. Ask each group to alternate the asking of their questions. Trainer(s) answer as honestly as possible and appropriate.
6. Process the activity minimally with brief discussion of participants and trainer reactions to the news conference format.
7. If time permits, have people in groups introduce themselves to the other group(s).