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Active Training: A Handbook of Techniques, Designs, Case Examples, and Tips, 4th Edition by Melvin L. Silberman, Elaine Biech

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Once you have gathered information about the needs of your intended participants and selected your training objectives, you can start planning your program. Opening exercises are an important element in the beginning of an active training program. This is true for both classroom and online instructor-led training sessions. They can sometimes be considered as the “appetizers” to the full meal: They allow participants to get a taste of what is to follow. Although some trainers choose to begin a course with only a short introduction, including at least one opening exercise in your design is a first step that has many benefits.

WHAT OPENING EXERCISES ACCOMPLISH

Many people assume that opening activities are only social in nature. If participants are strangers to each other, something has to be done to allow them to introduce themselves to each other. For this reason, probably the most popular icebreaker in the training world is to pair participants, have them interview each other, and then have them introduce their partner to the large group. Imagine how many times people have experienced this ritual! There are many more creative and compelling icebreakers and a much wider view of their function.

In the first moments of an active training program, three goals are equally important, even if the program is short or an assessment has preceded the course:

  1. Team building—helping participants ...

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