Hot Start


  • Time

    5-15 mins
  • Level

    3 (out of 5)

Before you dive into the content in your session, choose a warm-up exercise connected to the activity ahead. One that activates the mindset you’d like the group to use, sparks curiosity or offers insight or introduction to the sessions task. Use the hot-start to bridge the gap from intro to content.


More than an ice-breaker…

Difference between a ‘hot-start’ and a normal ice-breaker or warm-up exercise, is that you carefully choose or create a hot-start exercise, to fit whatever is coming up next. For example:

  • If you’re about to dive into idea generation, you would choose a warm up which boosts their creative confidence. 

  • If you’re headed into a team development session, you would choose a warm up which offers a safe and comfortable way to begin opening up. 

  • If you’re about to be working on a complex problem, play a complex game, and reflect on what you learnt while playing. 

You may already have some great ice-breakers or warm-ups in your toolkit. To make them a hot-start, consider which fit best in different contexts, and work on how you will debrief in order to seamlessly move to the content. This is how:

  • Be aware of the group and their relationships; what would they be comfortable with sharing? Doing? 

  • Think of a logical relationship between the subject of the session and your hot-start. How do you want to feed this into the exercise or work form? 

    • For example: if my session is about creative thinking I could prime the team by asking them questions such as: How does the creative process look like according to you? Or, when was the last time you felt really creative?  Instead of answering let them pull the answers from the experience. 

  • Make use of the space or your (online) platform. Depending on your hot-start and it’s intention you can let people walk around, line up, create a circle, sit down, shift and share, use the annotate tool to scribble on a whiteboard, bring objects to the camera. Hot-starts are the perfect excuse to get people to explore the space and a new mindset, helping them feel more present and aware.

Be sure to land the exercise with de-brief

Ask the group how they’ve experienced the exercise and link it to the next steps of the session.


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