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20 Team Building Icebreakers

        posted by , January 08, 2013

Icebreakers get people socializing. They also create the lighthearted mood that's essential to effective team building.

Facilitating icebreakers can be tricky. It's a good idea to have at least 3 or 4 icebreakers planned. If one ice breaker crashes and burns move quickly to the next.

It's important for the facilitator to be positive and energetic. If you're not an experienced facilitator you might want to practice icebreakers with a small group first.

The following icebreakers tend to work well.

1. Two Truths and a Lie

This is a classic icebreaker that always works well.

Each person takes a turn to tell the group two things that are true about them and one thing that's a lie. Everyone in the group gets a chance to guess which is the lie.

It's possible to keep score by exchanging candies. Everyone who guesses the lie gets a candy.

The facilitator goes first to give a good (positive example).

✓I've bowled a 300 game in bowling
✓I've been to every state in the United States
x I have a green carpet in my home

Give the group 3 minutes to think of their list.

2. Famous Connections

The facilitator breaks the group into randomized teams. He names three famous people. Teams work to find a connection between the people and report back to the group.

What do Bill Clinton, Gandhi and David Letterman have in common?

There's no right answer, in fact the facilitator picks random famous individuals. It's amazing how often groups find intriguing connections.

3. Comic Strip Chaos

Everyone chooses a comic strip out of a bag. They need to find someone who has the same comic strip within a short time frame (e.g. 30 seconds). Make sure that everyone has a match (two or three of each comic strip ... exactly enough for the group).

4. Human Machine

Teams are assigned a simple machine such as a ceiling fan. They must design the machine out of the people in the team (act out the functioning of the machine). Everyone in the team must play a role in the machine.

This activity is difficult to facilitate. A professional facilitator is recommended. Otherwise, practice beforehand with a small group.

5. Everyone Pitches In

Teams must perform a simple task such as screwing in a light bulb. The trick: everyone in the team needs to contribute to the task.

6. Progressive Story

The group stand in a circle. Everyone adds one sentence to a story (going around the circle). The trick: the story needs to make logical sense.

7. Psychic Shake

Ask everyone in the group to think of a number between 1 and 3. Ask them to form three teams based on the number they choose. The catch: only handshakes can be used to communicate.

Tip: don't over explain it, people will quickly find their team. Usually, the groups are virtually even. It's a good way to build a random team for the next icebreaker.

8. Animal Noises

Everyone in the group chooses a piece of paper with the name of an animal on it. There are exactly two of each animal. Everyone must find the person with the same animal by making the sound of the animal.

9. Nickname Introductions

Have everyone in the room introduce themselves. Ask each person to begin their introduction by giving themselves a nickname composed of a adjective and their first time. The adjective must have the same first letter as their name.

Smart Sara
Agile Anna
Noble Noel

You don't need to give the group too long to think. The first thing that pops into their head is often best.

10. Introduction Charades

Ask the team to think of one word that best describes them. Get them to write it on a strip of paper.

Ask everyone in the group to play charades (physically mime the word while the group guesses). Give each member 30 or 60 seconds to get the group to guess (depending on the size of the group and your schedule).

11. I've Never ...

Give everyone 10 wrapped candies. Each member gets a turn to say something they've never done. Anyone in the group who has done what's mentioned gives up a candy to the person.

I've never been to Europe
I've never driven a SUV
I've never been on a roller coaster

Warning: This game can go drastically wrong. Example: I've never been fired (asking members of the group if they've been fired isn't positive). Works best when you trust the group to keep things positive and appropriate.

12. Product Slogan

Bring a mundane object such as a light bulb. Ask each person to come up with a marketing slogan that will sell 1 billion units. Everyone shares their slogan.

13. Introductions Start With An Answer

Ask a question of the group that's interesting and universal. The group introduce themselves. Each person begins their introduction by answering the question.

What was the first CD or MP3 you ever purchased?
What was your biggest success in high school?

14. Animal Sorting

Ask the group to think of the animal they most want to be. Tell the group to organize themselves in a line from smallest to largest animal without talking or making any sounds.

Tip: Tell the group where the smallest animal should stand to indicate the direction of the line. Avoid over explaining the exercise (e.g. you don't need to tell them to do charades).

15. Autograph Scavenger Hunt

Everyone is given a list of characteristics and is asked to get an autograph of a person who has that characteristic for each line. The exercise is time boxed .... the person with the most autographs win.

Someone who likes broccoli _________________
Someone who has children __________________
Someone who owns a red car ________________
Someone who has been to Florida ______________

16. Get To Know You Bingo

Create different 5 x 4 cards that have personal characteristics written within them.

Keep the characteristics simple (e.g. Someone who likes karaoke).

The group mingle to find the name of someone that has each characteristic. When they find someone they write that person's name in the corresponding square. The first person with a full card wins.

17. Take What You Need

Pass a roll of toilet paper around the room and instruct each person to "take what they need".

When everyone has their paper, ask them to state one interesting thing about themselves for each square they took.

The absurdity of passing toilet paper around the room gets people giggling and loosens things up before introductions.

18. Wrong Handed Picture Guess

Write the names of objects on strips of paper. Each member of the group has a turn at a white board. They choose a strip of paper and must draw the object while the groups guesses. The catch: they can't use their regular writing hand.

19. Birthday Sort

Ask the group to organize themselves into a line by order of birthday without making any sounds. Show the group where January starts.

20. Interview Introductions

Pair people off and have them interview each other. Have each person introduce their partner to the group.

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