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Stimulating trainees critical for effective training

Opinion & Analysis
I need to reiterate the point that when choosing an icebreaker or energiser, there is need to be conscious of group dynamics.

I need to reiterate the point that when choosing an icebreaker or energiser, there is need to be conscious of group dynamics. Paul Nyausaru

It is important that the activity should not make anyone in the group feel uncomfortable. No one should be forced to reveal extremely personal information or participate in a stressful environment. In addition to encouraging interaction, you should tie your icebreaker or energiser into the topic being discussed.

When kick-starting your training session, you may require your participants to know each other well as they warm up to the business of the day. The icebreaker “Story of My Life” can do the trick.

Here the participants are required to put themselves in a situation in which they have just been contracted to write their autobiography for a major publishing company. The following questions will assist them in getting started with a few probing questions

First, they take a piece of flip chart paper and fold it in half and then in half again to form a book.

They choose the title of a popular song for the name of their book, which should be written on the front cover.

On the inside of the front cover (page two), they write the name of the place where they were born, description of their first job and number of years they have been working for their company.

On page three, they draw a portrait of their family or a picture of someone very important to them.

On the back cover (page four), they write about their aspirations. This icebreaker, as you can see will help bring participants together through sharing their experiences as they read their life stories to each other. Once they have opened up during the icebreaking session, it becomes easy for the participants to take part meaningfully during training.

Another interesting icebreaker that I have enjoyed using is one called “Paper Ball”. This icebreaker calls for the Trainer to:

Ask the participants to form a circle in the middle of the training room,

Make a ball by rolling up newspapers or used paper,

Throw the ball to any participant for them to catch and ask the participant to introduce him/her self and to state what they expect from the training,

After the introduction, ask him/her to throw the ball to someone else,

Continue this exercise until everyone finishes introducing themselves.

The “Paper Ball” icebreaker is there to assist the trainer in taking down the participants’ expectations from the course they are attending, thereby allowing him/her to tailor the course to suit the various members in the group.

Energisers are best done as a way of re-energising participants after a long session or when they come from lunch. It is during this time when participants normally feel sleepy. The following energiser has been used with success. It is played as follows:

Ask the participants to form a circle, Describe the procedures of the game, The person starting with the game will say “one”, indicating either his or her left side by putting the palm of the hand on the chest.

The person on the right or left so indicated by the first person will say “two”. This second person then indicates another person on his/her right or left in the same way as the first person did. In this way the game will continue until it reaches the sixth person. The seventh person will say “seven-up”, putting his/her palm on the head pointing either left or right. The game starts again with the eighth person. Participants will play the game quickly and those who make mistakes or cannot follow the rules are disqualified and will be out of the game.

There is need to select one person to start the game. The first, second and third remaining players are rewarded for making it ahead of others.

As you can see, this game will assist participants who could be dozing after a long session become more attentive when training resumes. So with energisers, a trainer can think of any game that involves movement to re-energise participants after a long session or soon after coming from a lunch break.

If these training techniques are use appropriately, they will surely result in productive training sessions.

Paul Nyausaru is Human Resources Practitioner. You can contact him on email pnyausaru@yahoo.co.uk, pnyausaru@gmail.com . Views contained in this article are personal.