The Talk Show Ice-breaker

The Talk Show is one of my favorite ice-breakers to get students to know one another toward the beginning of a program. The idea is to pair up students with one another randomly and have each one play the role of a talk show host and talk show guest. The goal is for each student to share an interesting story about themselves with the group.


Ask your students to name television talk shows they know. Ask them to describe what a talk show is.  Brainstorm together what the role of the talk show host is on the show (e.g. to make the show entertaining, to make the guest feel comfortable, to engage with the TV audience). Then brainstorm what the role of the guest is (e.g. to answer the host’s questions, to promote something that they are working on, to look good to the audience.)

Explain that each one of them is going to have a turn as a talk show host and talk show guest. Their objective as the host is to help the guest tell an interesting story about themselves, by asking a leading question that gets them to talk about it.

If you have two facilitators, you could model what the show might be like. For example: “Christine, welcome to our show! I heard that you had an interesting experience backpacking in Yosemite last week. What happened?”


  • Pair up students (pairs should not already know each other).
  • Explain that they will all take turns as talk show hosts and guests.
  • Each host will open the show, introduce their guest, and ask them leading questions for the television audience.
  • Give the pairs time to get to know each other to find out something interesting to share with the audience. Remind them that their goal is to help the other person tell an interesting story or fact about themselves.
  • Here are some ideas, if your students need prompts:
    • What is your proudest moment?
    • Who inspires you the most and why?
    • What is a skill or talent you have?
    • Where did you go on vacation last?
    • Give them them 4-5 minutes to prepare, then reconvene the group. 
  • Ask for a pair to go first, each student taking a turn as the talk show host and talk show guest. Everyone not acting as the host or the guest is the audience. Repeat until everyone has had a turn in the spotlight.


Key to the success of this activity is creating the right talk show energy. We like to have our students say “3 – 2 – 1- Action!” to kick off every show. Encourage everyone to applaud every guest.

This can be a really effective activity for middle schoolers, who often will ham it up and get into the role playing.

It does take a lot of time for a large group to all do their shows. It helps to set a time limit, and maybe do it over two sessions of your program.

I like to do a debrief at the end to find out how challenging the activity was for the students. I ask what is hard about being the host and being the guest. There is always an interesting discussion afterwards.

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