Ice breakers, to start off a meeting, can make a positive difference. They can be used in person or during virtual team meetings (e.g. Zoom, Teams, etc.).
How Ice Breakers Help
- Setting a positive tone for the meeting
- They build team camaraderie
- They set the stage for open and positive communication
- You learn new and interesting things about your group
- They can get people laughing (for the right reasons)
I’ve led icebreakers for many business gatherings. Here are 11 of my favorites.
11 Team Building Ice Breakers
1. Share Something Funny
Have you ever laughed so hard that you cried, or laughed so hard until you rolled on the floor? When was the last time you heard or experienced something that funny? Share these stories. Everyone shares something that made them laugh. Keep it clean if you’re at work.
2. Select a Coin
Bring some change in a cup. Everyone selects a coin, reads the date, and shares something significant that happened in their life that year. Use coins that were minted after 1985.
3. Skill Teaching
People have unique skills. One person plays golf, others quilt, and some are great at cooking. Each person takes 3-5 minutes to teach the group about one of their skills. You will learn about your group and learn about new skills.
4. Share Your Story
Everyone answers the following five questions. Those that wish to share their answers should do so briefly. If you have more time, people can ask questions.
Where I grew up:
Unique challenge in life or childhood:
5. Quote or Poem
A friend of mine asked everyone to bring a favorite poem to read on his birthday. It was a lot of fun hearing what people read. The selections told me something about each of the people at the party. Have your team share their favorites.
6. Share Your Positives
When I wake up most days, I write down 5 things that happened in my life the day before that were positive. This helps me have a healthy perspective. Participants do this as a group. Everyone shares something in their life that happened yesterday that was positive and something they’re excited about later.
7. Fact or Fiction
Give everyone an index card and have them write their name on the card. Have them write down two true statements and one false statement about themselves and pass their card to you. Read the name on the card and the three statements, and then have participants guess which statement is false.
8. Question Jar
A number of questions are placed in a jar, you pull out a question and answer it. The questions should be light and fun. If someone doesn’t want to answer a question, pick another.
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9. Top 3 Goals
Everyone gets 3 minutes to write down their top three personal or professional goals. Set a timer. Everyone shares their goals and a step they can take towards reaching each goal.
10. What Do We Have In Common
People usually have more in common than they realize. Where they grew up, favorite foods, favorite sports teams, hobbies, and interests. Everyone finds three things they have in common with other people on the team. Share your findings.
11. One Strength & One Growth Area
Everyone shares one strength, quality, or gifting, that helps them in life, at home or at work. Everyone shares one area in their life where they need improvement or help from others. The more people risk being vulnerable, the better this activity at bonding a team.
You must create a safe environment for these activities to work. Criticism and embarrassing people is never acceptable. Never force someone to participate. Keep it under 30 minutes no matter the size of the group. Stay upbeat, even if others are negative, as most will eventually join the fun.
Have the courage to try an icebreaker at your next staff meeting, family gathering, business event, or even over a family meal.
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