No doubt you’re aware that the average adult can just sit and listen for around 20 minutes, after that interest and retention starts to waiver – making you, as a trainer, less effective. 

In our experience both as trainer and trainee, effective training is not about passivity, it has to be engaging. At MRWED we know that the more engaging your training the better the outcomes. So, with that in mind, we’ve shortlisted 5 of our favourite training games to help you in your next session.

1. Two Sides of a Coin

Objective: To encourage participants to see both sides of a problem, and challenge preconceived notions.

Time: 10 minutes

Materials: A coin (for introduction to activity only).

Description: Building on the timeless notion that there is positive and negative from a single experience, teams of 2 or more come together and discuss a situation, issue or problem from two different sides. The activity uses the coin as an analogy to look at the ‘flipside’ of things.

Process: Introduce the activity using a coin to explain that we are going to look at two sides of the same event or issue.

Divide the group into teams of 2 or more people.

Invite one of the team members to share something negative that has happened in their life. It can be a personal or professional memory, but mandatorily a true incident. (For instance, if there are two members, Partner A shares something negative that happened in their life with Partner B. Then Partner A discusses the same memory again, but this time focusing on the bright side with positive takeaways. In this way Partner B helps to shed light on the silver lining of the negative experience. Afterwards, they switch roles.)

If there are more than two people in a team, each person should be given the opportunity to share their memory, with the other members of the team looking for the ‘silver linings’.

Debrief:  Explain that this short, yet effective activity helps team members to see the good in things and people and challenges preconceived notions. 

Explore how the participants felt about being asked to consider the flip-side of negative incidents and invite them to discuss how this strategy could be used in their own lives.

Variations: Instead of sharing an incident from their own lives, they could look at specific incidents that are introduced in their training to discuss both sides. 

Alternatively, they could examine a new strategy or concept from class, to look at positive and negatives of implementation. e.g. automation in manufacturing can reduce certain jobs (negative), but enables faster production which could allow the business to be more viable and thus able to employ additional staff in new job classifications (positive).

2. S.O.S

Objective: To identify which ideas or actions are best to proceed with.

Time: 10-15 minutes.


  • Flip chart paper
  • Coloured markers

Description: This is a debriefing activity which helps learners to examine the ideas, information or actions that may have been created via brainstorming or discussion and decide which of these they should move forward with. The S.O.S. acronym stands for: Substance, Objective, Suitable.

Process:  Conduct a robust discussion or brainstorming activity on a relevant topic or area of interest. Invite the learners to add the key points from the activity on a series of flip chart pages and explain that they will evaluate these further later. Once the activity draws to a close, advise that they are now going to apply the S.O.S. treatment to the information they have listed on their flip chart paper. Explain that this is to help them to identify which of these points or actions they should proceed with by evaluating whether the ideas:

have Substance (e.g. are real, relevant, factual or have an established framework supporting them); meet the Objective/s (e.g. solve a problem, improve performance or reduce challenges);

are Suitable for the client group, organisation or established parameters (e.g. budget, resourcing, timeframes, core values).

Direct the learners to review what they have come up with in small groups against these three things and ask them to select the items that provide the best SOS.

Debrief:  Encourage the learners to share their SOS selections with the rest of the class. If they struggle to come up with options, the trainer may need to support the group into providing suggestions on how they could extend their ideas to create solutions that have substance, meet objectives and are suitable for the needs. Conclude by explaining that “SOS” is often used when we need help and that this activity could be applied when they need help in deciding on the best course of action in the future.
Variations: As an extension, you could have the groups conduct a blind evaluation of their peers’ ideas to come up with their SOS solutions. This would remove bias and perhaps offer different perspectives than the original group had conceived.

3. I Heard That!

Objective: Raise awareness of how repetitive tasks can seem old, but action can be taken to help the purpose and meaning of the work come through.

Time: 10-15 minutes.


  • Pre-prepared phrases on PowerPoint

Description: There are things we do in our work so often that they can start to lose significance. This can translate to sloppy customer service, unmotivated workers or, in general, subpar work. To help re-energise workers and get them thinking about the details of their work and the importance of each action, use “I Heard That!” to start a conversation about the current state of work practice and what can be done instead.


  1. Get everyone into pairs and have one person seated facing the projection screen and one person seated facing away from the screen and looking at their partner.
  2. Say, “In just a moment, I am going to show you a phrase on the screen. Each phrase phonetically sounds like a common phrase you may know, but the words look nothing like it. For example, you may see the words ‘Elf Habits Hoop.’ When read quickly, you will be able to hear the answer, which is ‘Alphabet Soup.’ The person facing the screen will be the reader, and the person facing away will try and guess the answer only by listening. You may find that you will need to read it more than once in order to have your partner guess correctly. Once you think you have the answer, stand up immediately. We will hear your guess and, if you are correct, you will get a point. The team with the most points at the end will win a semi-valuable prize!”.
  3. Begin showing phrases on the screen and hearing guesses.
  4. Have partners switch halfway through so each can read and guess.
  5. See which team had the most points and award a prize.

Selection of “I Heard That!” phrases

Yore Luke Ink HoodYou’re looking good
Up Hair Hush OozeA pair of shoes
Loaf Meat Hen derLove Me Tender
Jog Clay Die ScreamChocolate ice cream
Isle Of ViewI love you
Hype People Earth Duh HeyHappy birthday
Dew Ache Who Gull SurgeDo a Google search
Europe Art Tough FitYou’re a part of it
Pea Sank WhitePeace and quiet
Dew Wino HughDo I know you?
Assess Seam Ease HeedA sesame seed
Bat Tree Snot Ink LootedBatteries not included
Canoe Key Pass EgretCan you keep a secret?
Koala Deep Rod DucksQuality products
Will Saw Rim OceanWheels are in motion


  • What was it like doing this activity?
  • Which did you prefer: reading or guessing?
  • What tips did you find to make it easier to guess the correct answer?
  • Why is it hard to guess these even though they are relatively common phrases?
  • What correlation can you make between this activity and what we are going to discuss today?
  • Why is this something that we are going to spend time on today?
  • What is something that you do on a daily basis that can feel a bit like reading these phrases?


Instead of putting the phrases up on a screen, make a set of cards with a phrase on one side and the answer on the back. This can become a table competition where a person will draw one of these cards and read it for the rest of the table. The person to the right of the reader will not guess but will know the correct answer. Once the phrase is guessed, the next person around the table will get a card. Continue for a set period of time and see which group gets the most correct answers.

Use this activity as an energiser where you can intersperse these phrases throughout a session when you need a bit more energy in the room. Definitely encourage groups to stand when they have an answer to get the blood pumping!

4. Something Unusual!

Objective: Get to know other learners quickly.

Time: 20-25 minutes.


A series of mission cards. Prepare several cards with one of the following (or similar) printed on each:

  • Who has the most unusual hobby?
  • Who has the most unusual pet?
  • Who has the most unusual habit?
  • Who has played the most unusual game?
  • Who has designed the most unusual resource?
  • Who has travelled to the most unusual place?


In this ice-breaker, the trainer sets each learner a mission to find out some information about others in the group and then share what they have found. It is a light-hearted way to enable learners to get to know each other quickly.


  1. Identity a clear area where everyone can interact with each other easily.
  2. Distribute one mission card to each participant.
  3. Ask participants to approach and talk to others as research for their mission. Allocate 5 to 10 minutes for this part, depending on the number of participants.
  4. Invite everyone back and ask each participant to share their mission. Each person should announce the most unusual answer they have found for their mission and then ask the group to guess whom the answer has come from. The participant should then declare who it was.


  • Thank the participants for their contributions and celebrate the successful completion of the missions.
  • Explain that research is an important skill for learning and asking the ‘right’ questions will help them to delve deeper into the subject matter, just like they have delved deeper into the backgrounds of their peers during this activity.


  • Sometimes there is nothing unusual about any of the answers given. If this is the case, the trainer could invite participants to select another mission card and conduct research on it instead. 
  • Rather than using broad topics, the missions could be focused on the subject matter. e.g. Who has had the most unusual questions from a customer or who has had the most unusual industry experience.  

5. Piece of PIE

Objective: To allow participants to reflect on the learning from the session and decide what is most relevant and important for implementation on the job.

Time: 10 minutes


  • 1 sheet of paper per participant
  • Pens


This activity helps everyone identify the best thoughts and actionable ideas from the session in order to encourage action as participants get ready to leave at the end of a session.


  1. Ask everyone to take out a piece of paper and a writing implement. Say, “Based on what we have talked about here today, I would like for you to answer the following questions.”
  2. Here is what they write. (Model this on a piece of chart paper.)

P – Priceless piece of information. (What has been the most important piece of information for you today?)

I – Item to implement. (What is something you intend to implement from our time today?)

E– Encouragement I received. (What is something that I am already doing that I was encouraged to keep on doing?)


Use the following situations and questions for debriefing.

  1. Turn to a partner and share what it is that you wrote down.
  2. What were some of the key words that you heard while you shared?
  3. What were the common themes that kept coming up?
  4. What would it mean for our organization if we implemented the things on your papers?
  5. What would it mean if we did NOT implement the things on your papers?
  6. What are the next steps that you think we should take together?


  • Instead of sharing with a partner, have everyone get in a circle and share one or more of the things that they wrote on their piece of paper.
  • Try and bring in some actual pie as you close the session. As you eat the pie, have people answer the questions above as well as talk about how the image or object of “pie” is relevant to the work that they are expected to do.

Want to learn more? The above games and plenty more are available from our monthly email ‘Yours In Traning’ straight into inboxes every month. If you’re keen to up your training game –  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter below and get in the know.

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