Check out our handy guide to the 10 best ice breaker games for meetings. Includes a range of both online and offline ideas.
Written by Heather Harper
Last updated: Mar 30, 2020
In this chapter we'll take you through some great icebreaker games for team meetings.
Any successful business leader will understand the importance of running engaging, motivational and informative team meetings.
Fairly recent research has also highlighted the importance of running effective team meetings to produce positive outcomes for both the team, and the organisation.
Based on this, we cannot recommend highly enough that you incorporate icebreakers into your meetings to lighten the mood and energise your team, especially as meetings can be a bit dry.
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.
So, here you go; here's our favourite ice breakers for you and your team to use in meetings...
Objective: To get team members to say what's on their mind in a non-threatening environment
Participants: 6 to 20 people
Duration: 3 to 8 minutes
Materials: The love heart sweets, need at least one per participant
This comes in top for our favourite icebreaker for meetings because it's light-hearted and fun.
Typically, in meetings, people often know each other fairly well - this means there is already some trust within the team so this icebreaker game works wonders!
Give each person a love heart sweet.
Each participant now gets the chance to give a wish to the person they’re celebrating, such as when a person is leaving the company or they have a birthday.
Explain that they each have to think of a wish or statement about the person they are celebrating that incorporates the words found on their heart.
Tell them they’ll take turns expressing their wishes aloud to that person.
Objective: To get the employees to build a certain object within a time frame
Participants: 20 to 50 people
Duration: 20 minutes
Materials: Items of your choice to turn into objects (e.g., paper, marshmallows, straws)
This ice breaker promotes creativity, which empirical studies have found influences positive team outcomes.
Based on this, we cannot recommend using this icebreaker enough during a meeting to increase the likelihood of positive team outcomes!
Building challenges are also problem-solving focused, a skill that enhances team decision making, and thus team effectiveness.
There are many variations of the building challenge ice breakers, but they all follow a pattern similar to this:
Divide employees into small teams, we suggest no more than six per team.
Decide on what you want them to build with the unconventional material (e.g., who can build the tallest free standing tower from paper, who can create the London eye from straws).
Set a time limit, we suggest no longer than five minutes.
After the five minutes is up, get the teams to step away from their creation and decide who’s is the best (based on appearance, hight, ability to stand on its own).
Objective: To get everyone working together to solve a puzzle in a certain time
Participants: 8 to 40 people
Duration: 15 to 20 minutes
Materials: One 50-piece puzzle and 4 small bags per group of four
We love this activity because it’s focus is on engaging all team members.
Personally, we think engaging all team members during meetings is super important because research has found that employees who are more engaged, perform better.
This icebreaker can be used at any time, but whenever you decide to use it, make sure you make a point about interdependence, the necessity of having everyone’s input and the importance of regular communication.
Organise your team into groups of four.
Divide the pieces from each puzzle into the four bags.
Put one complete puzzle (which is separated into the four bags) on each table.
Each participant in the team must take a bag.
Tell participants that they have to follow these instructions when putting together puzzle:
For the first two minutes, they should begin putting their puzzle pieces together by alternating turns. This should be done without talking or touching one another's pieces.
After two minutes, they should continue taking turns putting down pieces in silence, but they can touch each other pieces.
Finally, they have 5 minutes to finish putting the puzzle together in any way they like.
Objective: To develop trust by getting everyone to share their wishes for the team
Participants: 6 to 18 people
Duration: 6 to 8 minutes
Materials: Some stars (either buy them or do a spot of arts and crafts!)
We like this icebreaker because it encourages people to think about the possibilities, rather than the impossibilities.
This type of positive attitude and thinking drives successful teams.
Ask your team members whether they have heard the poem “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight”.
Encourage everyone to think of a wish that they have for the team.
Pass out the start shaped paper and get everyone to write down their wish for the team.
Get your team to stand in a circle and explain that the floor now represents the sky.
Repeat the starlight rhyme. Then, one by one, team members should place their stars on the floor and state what they mean.
Objective: **To get team members finding out their similarities and differences based on their birthing order **
Participants: 10 to 200 people
Duration: 5 minutes
Difficulty: Medium to High
This is a well known activity that we used to play as kids.
We love it because it gets attention, creates energy and laughter, and gains the participation of everyone.
We recommend using this in a speech at the start of the meeting, or as a break during a lengthy, and sometimes boring, meeting.
Get your teams to stand up and get ready to play Simon Sez.
Explain the simple rules: When you say “Simon sez” followed by an order, the group should obey the order; when you give an order saying “Simon sez”, they should not follow the order.
Give the orders. After each order, tell people who were correct in following the orders to remain standing, and people who were wrong to sit down.
When finished, announce that the people still standing are the winners.
This is the Simon Sez order:
Simon sez lift your right hand into the air
Simon sez lift your left hand into the air
Put your right hand down
Simon sez put your left hand down
Simon sez point upward with your right hand
Simon sez point downward with your left hand
Simon sez point both hands toward yourself
Point both hands towards your neighbors
Simon sez stop point and sit down
Simon sez stand up
Objective: To get team members finding out their similarities and differences based on their birthing order
Participants: 15 to 50 people
Duration: 5 to 7 minutes
We recommend using this at the beginning of a session as a mixer, or after lunch as an energiser.
We love this icebreaker so much because it’s based on science - an abundance of research has, indeed, found that our birth order impacts us throughout our lives.
Birth order plays a role in our childhood development.
Common experience and feelings are often shared by people of the same birth order.
This is an opportunity for them to discover those commonalities.
Ask participants to group themselves into the four corners of the room by the following birth orders: olders, middle, youngest and only child.
Participants have two minutes to answer and record their agree-upon response to the following questions: what are the advantages of their birthing order, what are the disadvantages?
Objective: To get participants mingling with each other and exploring their common grounds
Participants: 20 to 500 people
Duration: 3 to 5 minutes
Materials: Upbeat music, an homemade activity sheet
We like double take because it allows participants to mingle, explore their common grounds and get to know each other. This game is a bit like People Bingo and we love it for all the same reasons!
Ask participants to stand and move to a location in the room where they can walk around freely and mingle with others.
Play some music, and when the music begins, participants should begin shaking hands with each other and introducing themselves.
Call out characteristics that employees may have in common with each other (start of simple, with things such as hair colour or number of kids), and then participants must immediately find another person who shares that particular characteristic.
Each time a new characteristic is called out, the employees should do a “double take” with a new person, where by they match with them and get them to the activity sheet.
Objective: To get team members mingling by creating handshakes
Participants: 20 to 250 people
Duration: 2 to 4 minutes
Materials: **Some ideas of hand shakes (found on the internet) **
We love this activity because it gets employees moving around and shaking hands with each other.
We would recommend using it with employees who don’t know one another very well as it allows them to meet each other in a fun way.
Get participants to pair up and practice types of handshakes with each other. We suggest trying these ones out, as they are easy and humorous.
After 5 minutes of practising, count to three and say “Great shake”. When you say great shake, the pairs must use one of the hand shakes they learnt with their partner.
After they’ve done it, ask how many partners used the same shake.
Do this two or three more times.
Objective: To get participants forming groups based on their hand position
Participants: 20 to 60 people
Duration: 8 to 10 minutes
Materials: Pictures of hands in four to six different positions (one position for each group you want to form)
We like this activity because it is playful, fun and light-hearted.
We recommend using it during the middle of a meeting as a way to get everyone up and moving about.
Give each participant a picture of a hand in a certain position.
Explain to the group that their job to find the other people in the group by looking for those who are holding their hands in the same position.
When groups have formed, tell them they have 5 minutes to create a sales slogan that somehow relates to their groups hand position.
After 5 minutes, ask each group to show its hand position and repeat its slogan.
Objective: To get team members forming groups in a light-hearted and fun way
Participants: 18 to 40 people
Duration: 2 to 5 minutes
Materials: **A picture of a few different vehicle’s (it depends on how many groups you want to form) and enough printed out to give to each participant **
We adore this final game on our list because it is high-energy and offers a fun way to get people into groups and, communicating with each other, at any point during a session
Give each participant a picture of a type of vehicle (the number of different vehicles you use should match the number of groups you wish you form).
Team members should group themselves by their vehicle’s sound - they should “drive through” the group, imitating the sound their vehicle makes.
When participants find other participants who are the same vehicle as them (hopefully because they’ll be making similar sounds), they should join together, continue “driving around” and listen for other people who making the same noises as them.
When all participants are in their groups, ask each group to make its vehicle sound collectively for the other groups to hear.
We hope you've liked our list of the best ice breaker games for meetings.
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 activities for meetings 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.