Top 10 Ice Breaker Activities for Meetings, Training, and Team Building Sessions
Whenever you’re faced with a situation where you’re in a room with random people, you can feel a little cautious. Meeting and training sessions can be awkward. Even when you’ve spent a lot of time working in a team, you might realize you don’t really know the people around you that well.
For these moments, ice breaker games and team building exercises can be a great way to kick-start things. While there are plenty of bad games out there, the following ten are sure to break the ice and help the team become better at communicating with each other.
1. FIND THE COMMONALITY
The game is a perfect team bonding game.
You’ll need a group of people divided into pairs or larger groups of three to five, depending on the group size. You can play this game in any office setting.
The game will take around 10 to 15 minutes to finish.
The groups or pairs will have to take a few minutes trying to find one thing they have in common. This could be a thing they have or something they like doing. You can even make it about statements they both agree with.
However, it can’t be something obvious such as that they both have a nose or they all work for the same company.
You also don’t want it to be something broad, such as that they both love to eat. Better commonalities would be things like “We both liked Band X in High School” or “We both made our first travel abroad at the age of 20”.
Once you’ve given everyone a few minutes to think and everyone has found the commonality, each pair or group can then share it with the rest of the group.
Why it’s good?
The game is a great team building exercise because it focuses on finding something common rather than just sharing facts about yourself. It can help people feel more connected to each other and while people are looking to find the commonality, they’ll also share more information about themselves, helping to get to know each other.
There’s also plenty of creative thinking involved. You have to think about different things you might have in common, using your thinking and communication skills along the way.
You can add a bit more fun to the game by having each team “act out” the commonality in the end with the other teams trying to figure out what it is. Think in terms of charades. Teams can then get points for a right guess.
You can also tweak the ice breaker game by having the groups or pairs list five commonalities instead of one.
2. TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE
This is a great game for getting to know each other.
You can do this with any group of people in an office space.
The best is to let people sit in a circle but any formation that allows them to see each other would do.
The game takes around 15 to 30 minutes, depending on your group size.
Each person has to think two truthful statements about themselves and one lie. These can be about anything such as things they like, things they’ve done and so on.
You want all of them to sound plausible, as you don’t want the lie to stand out as an obvious untruth. For example, “I’ve been to the moon” wouldn’t see very plausible while “I broke my back at a skiing accident” could well be true.
You will then go around one by one, each person saying the statements aloud. Once the person has made the three statements in a random order, the rest of the group will try to guess which one is the lie.
Why it’s good?
This is a great ice breaker game and a very traditional one to play. It allows people to get to know each other and have a few laughs on the way.
It gives the team members a good way of letting other people know them and perhaps even fix some assumptions people might have made.
To mix it up, you can have people write down the statements and mix the lies and truths around. Instead of two truths and a lie, people can simply make two lies and one truth.
3. FIVE OF ANYTHING
Five of Anything is a classic game of team bonding.
You will just need your group of people, an office space and a pen and paper for each member of the team. You should divide the people into smaller teams of five (or smaller). It’s also a good idea to have topic ideas listed for the task.
The activity takes around 5 to 15 minutes to finish, depending on the size of the group.
The teams will be given a topic and their task is to list five of their favorite things on that topic. The topics can be:
- Five of books
- Five of movies
- Five of foods
- Five of languages
- Five of spices
The opportunities are rather endless in terms of the topics.
Each member can write their top five and once everyone is finished, you take turns to share your favorite things with each other.
Why it’s good?
It’s a great game allowing people to share things about themselves and to possibly find out similarities they share. The game helps people to get to know each other while having a bit of fun.
If you’re holding an office meeting, it’s possible to make the five things about the meeting’s topic. For example, five of your favourite marketing strategies or so on.
If you have enough time, you can also have the smaller teams share their five favourites with the rest of the teams.
4. THE GOOD AND THE BAD
This is a lovely game of revealing interesting stories about yourself and finding ways to turn the negatives into positive.
You want to divide your group into pairs. If you don’t have even numbers, you can make a larger team of three or even five if you want.
You don’t need any props – just a room for people to sit in pairs or groups.
The game will take about five to ten minutes to finish.
Each person will have to make a statement reflecting the most negative experience they have had. When they first make the statement they talk about the negative – what was so bad about the event?
Afterwards, they have to focus on the good with the help of the team. Essentially, together with others, they should focus on finding the silver lining – perhaps something good came out of it or the event taught them something valuable.
The bad event or experience can be work related or something personal. Everyone can freely choose what they want to talk about and which event they shall pick.
Why it’s good?
This beautiful ice breaker game is a great way to get to know people and to create feelings of empathy. It shows that even bad things can be turned into strengths and shows the power of focusing on the positive.
As mentioned above, you can have people do the activity in small groups rather than pairs. You can also make the groups think about random negative events (losing your first job) rather than everyone having to pick an event out of their own lives.
5. THE ONE QUESTION
The One Question is a problem-solving game that shows how people think in different situations.
You will need to divide your group of people into a few teams of three to five people.
It’s not necessary to have a lot of space – just enough for people to talk amongst the group. You won’t need any props but you should prepare a list of the different situations beforehand.
The game takes around 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
The objective is to come up with a single question that the team finds the best for a situation they have been presented with. In effect, you will be presented with a situation and you only have one question to ask to solve it.
Here are a few ideas for the game:
- Marriage – what is the one question to ask to find your ideal spouse?
- Babysitting – what is the best question to ask a babysitter?
- Recruitment – what single question is worth asking when hiring for a specific situation?
Essentially, the question is to find if a person is suitable for a specific situation or to deal with a particular problem.
When you have the teams set up, you present them the situation and give them 10 or so minutes to think about the question. You can then share the solutions with the rest of the group and talk about what others think.
Why it’s good?
The game is a great way to show your creative thinking. It tests people’s ability to think outside the box and to solve problems. It will force everyone to communicate and give their opinions regarding different things – it will help everyone know what each other think.
You can twist it around by also thinking about the one question you don’t want to ask in this situation – i.e. what are the things people might think about asking that are not worth it.
6. SNEAK A PEEK
Sneak a peak is a fun problem-solving game.
You’ll need a group of people divided into teams of four to seven people, depending on the number of people available. In terms of space, any kind of office space will do and you can use separate rooms if needed.
As props, you will need children’s building blocks such as Legos. You, essentially, need blocks that can be stacked and attached to each other in order to create different designs.
The game takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
The organizer of the game should create a Lego (or building block) structure or design prior to the event. Keep this hidden from the participants at the start.
Divide people into the groups and let them pick one person who will take the first look at your structure. The selected member from each team will get to view the structure for 10 seconds after which they have 30 seconds to explain what they saw to the rest of the team. The team will then try building a copy of the structure. The building phase will last just a minute.
After this, a different person will go and take a peak for 10 seconds. Again, they’ll have 30 seconds to explain what they saw and the team has 1 minute to build. Repeat this process until one team builds an exact replica and wins.
It’s important that there’s no talking during the 10-second peaking and no building during the 30-second explanation. The person who goes to take a peak should always be someone who hasn’t seen it yet until everyone has seen it and you can start repeating the viewers.
Why it’s good?
The game requires a lot of creative thinking, the ability to solve problems and great communication. The team members have to be able to communicate effectively and focus on the key points, as there is no time to waste.
If you don’t have access to Lego or other similar blocks, you could make it about a drawing or even a puzzle. You can also tweak the times. For example, allow only 20 seconds for explaining or 30 seconds for the building.
7. BLIND DRAWING
Blind Drawing is a game of communication and problem solving.
You will need to divide your team into pairs so this only works when you have an even number of people in the room.
The game requires pens and papers so prepare those for each team.
You might also want to prepare a list of things the teams will be drawing – these can be written on individual pieces of paper and placed in a hat for each person to draw out.
The duration of the game is 10 to 15 minutes.
Each pair will have one person drawing and one person explaining. The person explaining will pick an item from your list (or draw it from the hat) and then they’ll have to start explaining what it is. The person drawing will listen to those instructions and make a drawing based on what they are being told.
The trick is that the person explaining cannot actually use the defining things for the thing. Let’s say they are drawing an apple, they can’t just go and say, “Draw an apple”.
Furthermore, the idea is not to make the person guess what they are supposed to draw. So again, in terms of the apple, you don’t want the person explaining say, “It’s a fruit that grows in a tree”. Instead they need to guide the person through the drawing process – making statements like “Start by creating an almost round shape, In the middle of the to part, you want to draw a thick stick like thing.”
Once the drawing is done, the members of the pair will swap places.
Why it’s good?
The game is a great test of communication skills. People need to be able to find understanding between them and communicate efficiently. It can be fun while still testing how good each person is at solving problems – how to make the other person draw exactly what you want.
You can make this even trickier by removing words and instead of explaining the thing, the person has to act out what they want the drawer to draw.
8. THE DESERT ISLAND
The Desert Island is another classic game to reveal facts about yourself.
The game works with any number of people and they can be sitting in a circle or any other formation that allows them to see each other.
It should take no longer than 10 to 20 minutes to play the game, depending on how many people are taking part.
Each person takes a turn to answer their Desert Island question and explain the reasoning. These are, essentially, questions about things you would take with you, do, or say if you were stranded on a desert island.
Popular questions include:
- Who would you take on a desert island if you have to choose one deceased person, one famous person and one person from your friends or family?
- What book would you take with you?
- What album would you take with you?
- What item would you take with you?
The person can pick just one item or thing or you can agree to allow three favorite things.
Why it’s good?
The Desert Island is a classic look inside someone’s mind. It’s good for getting to know people and perhaps find those commonalities between each other. It’s light-hearted fun helping to break the ice.
You can make it about teams instead of individuals and have the team decide among themselves what they’d answer to each question.
You can also place the questions into a hat and have everyone draw a question randomly, making it harder to pick with less time.
9. THE PERFECT SQUARE
This is a fun game testing problem solving and leadership.
You’ll need a group of people and if you have a large group (over eight people, for example), you can divide them into groups of four or more.
You will also need a rather large area with no obstructions (tables and chairs) because you need to group to be able to move freely.
In terms of props, prepare to have a long rope for each team and blindfolds (scarfs, etc.) for each member of the team.
The purpose of the game is to create a square while holding the rope and wearing blindfolds. Start by having the team form circle and give each person a part of the robe to hold (everyone is holding on to the same robe).
Each person should then have to wear blindfolds and you’ll reveal to them that they must now form a square. They can talk as much as they want but they can’t remove the blindfold.
When they think they’ve made the Perfect Square, they can stop and remove the blindfold.
Why it’s good?
The game is a lot of fun and you will test people’s communication and leadership skills. It’s a good way of seeing who likes to lead and how, allowing people to let their communication skills to shine.
You can make the game a lot trickier and different by only allowing the team to talk and plan before the blindfolds are put on. You can further change things around by allowing only one person to speak at a time for 30 seconds. This makes sure everyone has to take charge and lead. The person allowed to speak can then rotate every 30 seconds.
10. CLASSIFY THIS
Classify This is a fun game testing creative thinking.
You want to divide a group of people into smaller teams of three to five people.
As props, you will need to bring 20 or so everyday items that don’t have any apparent connection with each other. For example, things like toys, office supplies, clothing, cutlery and so on.
The game will take around 10 to 20 minutes.
The objective is for each team to classify the 20 items into four groups of five. You try to find a unique way of grouping the five things with each other. Since the items are different, the classifications will require a bit of creative thinking.
Once each group has done this, they shall share the classifications with other teams and explain their reasoning behind the decisions. The reasons can vary from them being made from the same material to the color and so on.
Why it’s good?
The game can be a rather fun way of testing creative thinking. It allows people to talk with each other and reveal things about how they think when it comes to things.
You can tweak this game by adding another layer to the task. Instead of just classifying, you also have to come up with a function for those grouped items.
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