Icebreaker games are team-building activities designed to loosen people up in social settings. These activities help to fast-track familiarity and ease the socialization process. Whether you love them or hate them, icebreakers allow teams to engage and get comfortable with one another in new settings.
We chatted with our retreat planner, Teresa, who recommended the following activities for your next team event!
1. Two Truths, One Lie
Two Truths, One Lie is a great activity for small group settings. For large groups, consider breaking off into smaller groups as it will help make communication easier.
Standing in a circle, each person will share two truths and one lie about themselves. The true and false statements can be about anything or you can restrict it to a specific theme, the choice is yours.
One by one, the group will listen to each participant’s statements and decide which are the truths and which is the lie. This activity can be a lot of fun, especially when participants include something funny that has happened to them in the past.
2. My Superpower
This activity is great for bigger groups as well as teams that don’t know each other very well. Each participant will state his/her name and then share what their “superpower” is. This can be a special skill, a curious fact about their lives, valuable knowledge they can share, etc. You can choose to make it more professional, or keep things more personal as a way of getting to know each other better.
To make it even more fun, use a ball to signify which person is speaking. The person will then toss the ball to another player at random, keeping things spontaneous as the game progresses.
3. My Dream Celebrity Dinner Guest(s)
This is the typical “Who’s my dream dinner guest?” game, with a twist!
For smaller groups, players can use up to 3 dream celebrity guests, but for bigger groups, we recommend limiting players to one top choice. To add a twist to the game, have each participant explain why they’d like that particular celebrity to come for dinner.
If you want to make this game even more fun, use colourful yarn, to pass on to the next person as everyone takes their turn. Make sure each player holds on to their end of the yarn before passing and at the end of the game, you’ll have a beautiful (and complex!) pattern created out of the interaction.
4. Which Statement Resonates Most With Me?
This is a great game for large groups, and allows team members to get to know each other while also having a little fun!
To begin, one person leads the activity with a series of statements they’ll share with the group! These should be set before the game and will depend on the size of the group and its interests.
Some examples are:
- I am a morning person, and I love getting things done during the early hours of the day.
- I am a night owl and am most productive after dinner.
- I am neither a morning or night person - my productivity depends on the amount of coffee I’ve had!
The group leader will read all three (or more!) options to the group. Then, according to which statements resonates with them the most, players will gather in designated areas of the room. For example: “All the morning people - go to the right corner of the room. The night owls - to the front, by the windows, etc.“
Once everyone is in their group, give them a few moments to casually chat before reading the next set of statements. This activity helps to group people according to personal/professional interests and allows them to get to know each other better.
Some ideas for statements include:
- Dream Holiday
- Cat /Dog/No animals person
- Tea/Coffee/No beverage preference
- Summer/Winter/Doesn’t matter as long as I’m on holidays
You can make it as formal or informal as you like, and use humour to make the statements even more dynamic!
5. Competition Charades
This is a great activity both for small and large groups and underlines the importance of good communication.
Divide participants into groups of 4 or more people. There can be up to 10 people per group. For smaller groups, it’s best to have everyone play together.
To begin, the groups are set in a queue, each person with their back to the person behind them so that no one is face to face. One player will lead this activity and won’t participate. The leader comes up with a phrase, it can be work-related, or something fun! Some examples are Marketing, Books, Annual Reports, etc. The leader then whispers this phrase to the first person in the queue of each group, and with this, the charades start.
When the leader says ‘Go’, the first person in each queue taps the next person on the shoulder, and when they turn around, he/she tries to explain, without speaking, the phrase that the leader gave them.
After 30 seconds, the leader shouts “Change!” and the second person turns around, taps the next person on the shoulder, and the activity repeats as they try to explain whatever they understood from the first person. Be sure that players are not speaking throughout the entire activity.
The game continues until the last person in each queue has participated. Each player has 30 seconds to try to understand the expression and 30 seconds to pass on the information. Once the game is complete, the last person verbalizes in front of the whole group what they think the phrase is. The results are usually very funny.
For bigger groups, it can be set as a competition, and the group that is closest to the original expression wins.
6. Blind Retriever
Blind retriever is a fun interactive game that’s designed to improve communication skills and it can be played by small and large groups. The great thing about this game is that you don’t need any special materials, just a large open space and some random objects that can be found around the workplace.
To play the game, start by dividing your group into teams of 4-8 players and place each team behind the start line. If you have a very large group, make larger teams.
Next, each group needs to designate their ‘retriever’. This person will be blindfolded and tasked with retrieving a random object at the other end of the room. The only chance the retriever has of finding the object is by listening carefully to the commands of his/her teammates. Those calling the commands must remain behind the start line at all times. The team whose retriever collects the object first is the winner!
You can make the game more difficult by placing random soft objects randomly throughout the playing area. You can penalise a retriever every time they make contact with one of these objects, such as, “Take 5 steps backwards.”
If you only have a small area to play in, you can time teams individually while the others spectate. The team with the quickest time wins.
7. 3-Question Mingle
3-Question Mingle is an effective ice-breaker that can be easily played at the office. It doesn’t require any special equipment, all you need is a bunch of pens and some sticky notes!
The great thing about this game is that there’s no limit to the number of players you can have. To play, hand each player three sticky notes and a pen. Then, every person writes down three open-ended questions such as “What is your dream holiday destination?” or “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?”
Once everybody’s finished writing their questions, give your group 10 minutes to mingle. While mingling, players will find a person in the room and ask one of their questions to that person. Once they’ve both asked and answered a question, they will swap that question with the other player.
After the time has elapsed, ask your group what new and interesting things they just learned about their colleagues.
Stop-Walk is a variation of the classic game Simon Says and is all about quick thinking and active listening. It’s the perfect game to include as an ice-breaker at the beginning of your team building event.
You’ll need a large open space and one person appointed as the leader to play this game. To start, the leader will introduce the first two commands: walk and stop. When the leader calls “walk!” the players begin to walk aimlessly around the room. When the leader calls “stop,” the players stop, and so on.
This is where it gets interesting. When the moment is right, the leader will announce that the meanings of these phrases are now reversed, so walk now means stop, and stop now means walk.
Over time, the leader can introduce more phrases such as clap or jump. Every time two new phrases are introduced, they begin normally, before becoming reversed.
When somebody performs the incorrect action, they are eliminated from the game. This game will test how well your employees really listen to instructions!
9. Air Balloons
Air balloons is an energetic team-building game that encourages teamwork. It’s a fantastic way to build energy in the room and loosen everybody up for the coming activities.
To play air balloons, you’ll need at least one balloon for each team, a paper or plastic fan or a sheet that’s capable of wafting air and a stopwatch. This game is best played with groups of at least 8+ players.
Once the groups have been organised and handed the necessary materials, one person from each group must be designated as the timekeeper and is handed the stopwatch. When the timer starts, the timekeeper from each team tosses their balloon into the air and it’s now the task of the other players to keep their balloon from touching the floor for as long as possible.
But there’s a catch. Players are NOT allowed to touch the ball at any time. Players can only use air to keep the ball afloat. This means they can either waft the balloon or blow at it with their mouths. The moment a team’s balloon touches the floor, the timekeeper stops the watch and makes a note of the time. The team that managed to keep the balloon in the air for the longest is the winner.
10. Rock Paper Scissors Showdown
This is a fun team game that everybody will enjoy. The game’s competitive element is perfect for energising your group at the start of the event.
To set up, you’ll need a large area and several plastic hoops (approximately 20). Lay the hoops in a windy line, split your group into two teams and ask them to gather at separate ends of the hoops.
The rules of the game are simple. When you say “Go!” one member of each team starts to hop through the hoops (with two feet only—not running) and tries to reach the other team’s side. However, when the team members encounter one another on their journey, they must stop and play rock paper scissors.
The winner of the bout is allowed to continue their journey, while the loser runs back to their team. Meanwhile, a new member of that team races through the hoops until they encounter the opposing player. Upon meeting each other, another game of rock paper scissors is played.
The first team to have one of their team members reach the opposition’s side is the winner!
1...2...3 is a simple, light-hearted game that helps your employees get to know one another and get comfortable making mistakes. You don’t need any equipment, just a large indoor or outdoor space for people to move around in.
To start playing 1...2...3, ask your group to form pairs. Then, you’ll present the first challenge—it will be simple at first. You’ll ask each pair to take it in turns counting to three. For example, player one will say “one,” player two will say “two”, then player one will say “three,” and so on. Then the counting starts again with player two. The players will attempt to do this as quickly as they can without making any mistakes.
This is where the game becomes interesting. Now, the players are going to replace one of the numbers with an action. This could be a small jump, a thumbs up, sticking out the tongue, etc. Over time, the players will replace the rest of the numbers with different actions until they’ve formed a short action sequence. Just as when they were counting with numbers, the players will attempt to act out the sequence as quickly as possible.
Allow your players the chance to mingle and find new partners regularly. This game is a great opportunity for your employees to interact and learn about one another.
12. Who Am I?
Who Am I? is a classic party game that’s great for getting people talking and laughing. It’s the perfect game for large groups and doesn’t require many materials to get started, just a pen and lots of sticky notes.
Before you play the game, you’ll need to prepare your sticky notes. On each note, write the name of a very famous person or well-known character. Think Micky Mouse, Bill Clinton, Superman, Micheal Jackson, etc. Make sure you only write the names of people or characters that everybody will know.
To start playing, hand each player a sticky note and ask them to stick it either on their back or forehead WITHOUT looking at the name that’s written on the note.
Then, give your group a time limit to walk around asking questions to their colleagues to discover the name that’s written on their sticky note. These questions can only be answered with YES or NO.
13. Wink Murder
You may have played this party game as a child, but it also works brilliantly for breaking the ice at work-related team events. It’s particularly convenient because it doesn’t require any equipment, all you need is a group of people and an open area to move around in. Wink murder can be played with 10-30 people, any more and the game can take too long, any less and the game becomes too easy.
To prepare, arrange your group into a circle and ask them to close their eyes. At this moment, a moderator will move around the circle and select one player to be the ‘murderer’ by tapping them silently on their shoulder.
When the game starts, all the players start to walk around the room. It’s the task of the ‘murderer’ to catch eyes with a player and wink at them, eliminating them from the game. When a player gets winked at, they must ‘die’ as dramatically as they see fit and leave the game.
It’s the role of the players to identify who the ‘murderer’ is and to make an accusation. When a player wants to make a guess, they say “I accuse [name].” The accusation must be supported by at least one other player by saying “second”. The accused player must then respond with “yes” if they are the murderer or “no” if they are not.
If the accusation is wrong, the two players that made the guess must ‘die’ and leave the game.
14. The Neverending Story
This is a quick and easy icebreaker that doesn’t require any equipment and is guaranteed to produce a laugh. The game inspires your team to get creative and think on their feet in a fun environment. The aim of the game is to collaborate on an interesting and unpredictable story by allowing each player to contribute one sentence at a time.
To play The Neverending Story, gather your group into a circle, sitting or standing—it’s up to you. Then, choose a player to start, you can help them by giving them the first sentence or proposing a setting for the story. Once a sentence has been added to the story, the opportunity moves to the next person in the circle.
You can set a time limit, or bring the game to a close once the story meets its natural conclusion. Your team are sure to have great fun being creative and collaborating on a silly story.
If your team members are new to each other, encourage each player to include the name of one of their colleagues in their sentence. For example, “Then, Steve walked in and couldn’t believe his eyes!”
15. Got You!
Got You! is a rapid icebreaker designed to lighten the mood for the day ahead. The idea behind the game is simple, catch the other person finger while avoiding the other person from catching yours.
To play the game, arrange your group into a circle with a little space between each player. Next, ask each player to stick out their left palm towards the player to their left with the palm face up. Then, ask the players to rest the index finger of their right hand onto the palm of the player to their right. When the moderator shouts “Go!” the players must attempt to catch the index finger of the player to their left while avoiding the player to their right from catching theirs.
Escape the office with Surf Office company retreats
Surf Office offers custom company retreats that are designed to help you achieve your goals and maximise results. Working with us gives you instant access to our refined network and our in-depth knowledge of epic locations all over the world.
Escaping the office and embarking on a company retreat gives you and your team the perfect environment to foster new relationships and collaborate on innovative ideas. Our team has years of experience developing exciting and customised programmes for small and large groups, we truly understand how to get the most out of every minute.