Check out our handy guide to the 10 best ice breaker games for adults. Avoid awkward kiddy moments and try out these ideas.
Written by Heather Harper
Last updated: Mar 30, 2020
In this chapter we'll take you through some of the best ice breaker games that are suitable for adults.
A lot of the ice breakers you’ll stumble across on the internet are suitable for both corporate work teams, but also for students or teenagers.
However, sometimes, especially in a corporate setting, you'll find yourself running activities with a group of people who aren't inclined to participate in what they consider to be ‘childish’ activities.
If your team is working remotely at the moment then you should check out our 7000 word guide on remote team building games and activities for virtual teams. In there you'll find 40 ideas with instructions that you can try with your newly remote team.
And that's completely ok - because we've put together this list of very non-childish ice breaker games just for them.
You’ll notice that a lot of the activities we have picked are most suitable for teams players who haven’t met each other yet or are fairly newly formed. Let us know if you use them on your new work team!
Without further ado, here’s our list of ten very grown up ice breaker games… Enjoy!
Objective: To get team members learning new and interesting things about each other
Participants: 5 to 10 people
Duration: 20 to 60 minutes
Materials: A piece of paper and pen for each participant
We recommend using this icebreaker when your team players know each other fairly well and when there is a level of trust among the group.
Recent research has actually found that trust is linked directly to positive team performance, so we can’t recommend enough ensuring that trust is at the forefront of your team's culture.
We love this icebreaker because it is an activity where teammates can share fun information about each other, which prompts further appreciation for each other and promotes stronger personal ties.
Pick one team member to be the first target, they must stand outside the room.
All other team members write one thing (make sure it’s a nice or complimentary thing!) about the target on a piece of paper.
Collect all the pieces of paper and randomly select one to read aloud. The target must guess who they think wrote the ‘gossip’ about them.
If the target’s guess is correct, a new target is selected. However, if the target guesses incorrectly, then keep reading out the statements until the target gets it right!
Play this game until every person has had a go at being the target.
Objective: To get participants to learn more about each other and connect on a personal level
Participants: No more than 10
Duration: 15 to 20 minutes
Materials: One very large piece of paper per participant, scissors and coloured markers
We love human billboards because it is a self-disclosure activity that allows participants to connect on a personal level.
This icebreaker gets the creative juices flowing and will allow people to unwind.
We recommend using this for teams that don’t know each other that well, or when a new team is forming.
Give everyone in your team a piece of paper and some coloured markers.
Each participant has 6 minutes to use words, pictures or symbols to describe themselves on the “billboard”.
After the 6 minutes, participants should cut a hole in the paper and put it over their heads so that it drapes in front of them.
Get everyone to mingle for 6 minutes and ask each other questions about their billboards so that they can learn more about each other.
Objective: To get everyone knowing each other's names and an interesting fact that may prompt small talk at a later date
Participants: 5 to 20 people
Duration: 8 to 10 minutes
Use this ice breaker with a brand new team, when people don’t even know each other's names yet.
One of the reasons we love this icebreaker is because it’s simple and requires no preparation from you.
Give group members 3 to 5 minutes to think of an interesting facts that corresponds to the letters of their first name.
Have each participant share their acronym.
An example: Hi, I’m Heather. H is for horses, my favourite animal. E is for eating, my favourite activity. A is for Australia, the country I am currently travelling. T is for television, because I like to watch it in the evenings. H is for holidays, something I like to do more than once a year. E is for exercise, which I do five times a week. And R is for Rome, a city I really want to visit.
Objective: To get participants to learn each other's names
Participants: 20 or more
Duration: 30 minutes
Another icebreaker that we suggest using on a new team.
It’s very similar to the ‘my N.A.M.E’ ice breaker listed above, and we love it for all the same reasons.
Get everyone to stand in a circle with one person in the middle.
Give your team 3 minutes to memorise the first, middle and last names of their neighbors either side of them.
The designated middle person will point to someone randomly and says either “left neighbor” or “right neighbor”.
The person who is pointed at must say the full name of their neighbor. If they get it wrong, then they must trade places with the person in the middle.
Continue the game until everyone knows everyone else's name.
Objective: To get team members acquainted and to promote small talk
Participants: 5 to 15 people
Duration: 15 to 30 minutes
Materials: **A penny for each participant, should be shiny, easy to read and less than 20 years old **
Again, another very ‘adult’ activity to be used on teams that don’t know each other very well.
We love this icebreaker because it's quick, reveals personal facts and promotes the further development of personal relationships.
This ice breaker has appeared on a few of our blog posts, and the simple reason for its re occurrence is that we love its simplicity, differentness and its effectiveness.
Give a penny to each participant (top tip: to add a sense of humour, ask your team if they realised they were receiving a “cash bonus” for attending today!).
Ask everyone to introduce themselves with their name, their age and where they come from.
Then, they should share something significant or interesting about themselves on the year the penny was minted.
Objective: To be used as an introductory activity to get participants understanding each other’s preferences
Participants: 5 to 12 people
Duration: 3 to 8 minutes
This is another icebreaker very well suited to new teams. We love it because it is a light introductory activity that reveals everyone's personal preferences.
The game also tests memory, which is great to use at the start as research has concluded that when memory games are used, the amount of information learnt increases.
Thus, using this memory game at the start of training is likely to increase the amount your new hires take in!
Get everyone sat in a way so that they can all see eachother - we recommend sitting in a circle.
Start by telling everyone else one thing that you like to do (e.g., run 10km).
The person to your left then restates what you said and then says something that they would rather do (e.g., run 10km, eat a whole tub of ice cream).
The next team member then restates what was said, and adds on what they would rather do (e.g., run 10km, eat a whole tub of ice cream, do a skydive).
The game continues until every person has said the whole list and added on what they would rather do.
Objective: To get participants learning new and interesting facts about each other
Participants: 16 to 26 people
Duration: 10 minutes
We love this adult ice breaker activity because it's a quick way to get everyone up and moving about.
We recommend doing this half way through a training session or meeting to get everyone reset and feeling energised.
Divide the group in half and organise your team so they are standing in two lines facing each other.
Announce a category (e.g., first name).
The team organises themselves alphabetically by first names as quickly as possible.
The winning team is the one that organises themselves the quickest!
Keep the game going for as many categories as you like.
Category suggestions: birthday (chronologically), birthplace (alphabetically or geographically), height, formal job title, countries visited in their lifetime (numerically) and so on...
Objective: To get team members to learn how they are similar and different to each other and connect on a personal level
Participants: 20 to 30 people
Duration: 10 minutes
Materials: Piece of paper and pen for each participant
Let’s be honest, we all like to have something unique about us.
But, we also all like to know we are similar in some way. This ice breaker allows use to find out those things about our co-workers.
Give each participant a piece of paper and pen.
Get everyone to draw three columns on their piece of paper with the headings: name, similar and different.
Get your team to mingle with each other and find out what they have similar and different to each other.
After the clock stops, the winner is the person who has filled in as many names on their card as possible.
Objective: To get participants to learn about each other and build trust
Participants: 5 to 20 people
Duration: 10 to 20 minutes
Materials: A large bag of candy (Skittles, M&M’s)
We love it because it builds trust as participants get to learn a bit more about each other.
The game is also fun and we guarantee you that your team members won’t have used it before!
Every team member takes a candy.
Participants share a story based on the colour of the candy they have.
Participants can eat the candy.
Candy colour ideas:
Blue - A boss you respected and why
Green - A reason why you are proud to belong to this organisation
Organe - An embarrassing moment at work
Red - Your biggest working success
Yellow - The funniest moment at work
Purple - A time at work where you have failed, and what your learnt from it
Objective: To get team mates sharing and understanding their values
Participants: 8 to 50 people
Duration: 30 to 60 minutes
Materials: Index cards, enough for each person to have 10
We love this final icebreaker on our list because it encourages everyone to share things they would not normally choose to share with each other - this sparks further conversations and promotes friendships within your team.
Divide your team in half and create two concentric circles (one inner circle and one outer circle).
People on the outer circle should face inside, and people on the outer circle should face inside.
Pair each inner person with an outer person.
Hand each person their 10 pieces of paper and get them to write down one value on each piece.
Have the partners share with each other why they wrote down the values they did and how they prioritise them for 5 minutes.
After, get the participants to rip up one of their cards.
The outer circle moves round, and new pairs are formed. The new pairs then have 5 minutes to explain to each other why they ripped up the card they ripped up and how they would feel if they lost that value.
Continue this process until the participants are only left with one card, their most important value.
We hope you've liked our list of the best ice breaker games for adults.
Try these out and let me know how you go.
Is there one that we've missed that should definitely be in our top ice breaker games for adults list?
Let me know in the comments below.
About the author
Heather Harper has a Masters in Occupational Psychological from the University of Manchester. She currently works as an editorial writer specialising in organizational psychology - helping teams work better together.