There’s nothing that brings on a groan in a workshop quicker than saying: “Let’s start with an icebreaker.” Whether you’re an extrovert or not, the warm-up activity has developed quite the reputation as a touchy-feely waste of time. It’s not true!

In a podcast through IDEO, the international design firm, facilitator Dav Rauch makes the case for why starting with an introductory activity is crucial, whether it be at a workshop, meeting or class. He sees it as a way to prepare the audience by shifting their brain functions from left (pattern recognition) to right (opening up the possibility to change or create). Without that shift, anything that is said will be vetted through the lens of previous patterns and the brain won’t allow you to see new options.

“The warmup isn’t the cherry on top,” Rauch said. “It’s the plate beneath the meal. The warmup preps the brain so that they can actually hear what you’re presenting.”

If you have to make a presentation, frame your introductory activity in ways that help participants understand its value rather than seeing it as only fluff. As Rauch reminds us, no athlete does their work without first warming up. Decision-makers and learners should be no different.

Listen to the :45 podcast here.


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