Chapter 4

Our Favourite Ice Breaker Ideas

We've put together the ultimate list of the best ice breaker ideas you should try. Includes instructions.

Heather Harper

Written by Heather Harper

Last updated: Mar 30, 2020

In this chapter we'll go through our very favourite ice breaker ideas that you can try out with your team whenever you have the need.

It doesn’t matter whether you want ice breakers to overcome first day training nerves, to inspire newly formed teams, or to use on old teams to get them working together just that little bit better - Our well thought-through list of icebreakers is guaranteed to have you shivering with excitement!

Save this guide to your favourites as it will surely come in handy!

Without further ado, here's our favourite ice breaker ideas…


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.


1) Passions Tic Tac Toe

Objective: To help participants get to know each other at the beginning of an event, or to identify each employees values

Participants: 10+

Duration: 15 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: A homemade 3 x 3 grid for each participant

passions tic tac toe

This sits as our top ice breaker idea because it helps employees connect on a more intense and deeper level.

We love it so much because research has consistently found that understanding an employee's core organisational values improves their performance and productivity; so we really think its an ice breaker that will get the most out of your team.

Instructions

  1. Hand each participant the 3 x 3 grid that you’ll have made and ask them to fill in each block with a different personal passion.

  2. Get your team to walk around the room and compare their grids with each other.

  3. When employees find someone with the same passion as them, get them to sign each others agrids.

  4. The winner is the participant who manages to have signatures in three lines (either vertical, horizontal or diagonal). You can continue the game to have as many winners as you like.

2) Unique & Shared

Objective: To get employees to discover what they have in common and to bring people together

Participants: 10 to 20

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

unique and shared

We love this ice breaker idea because it brings your team together in a quick and easy way.

Essentially, the aim of the game is to get your employees to find out what characteristics they all share, and what ones are unique.

This is great because your team members will feel empowered if they feel like they offer the group something unique to the group; and studies have found that empowered employees are more productive.

Similarly, we love this ice breaker because it helps you to figure out what types of characteristics are in your team.

As research has found that teams possessing similar characteristics are more effective, it will be useful for you to figure out early on exactly what characteristics your team members have in common so you can use them to your advantage.

Instructions

  1. Put employees into groups of 4-5 people.

  2. Get them to go around the group and discover what they have in common.

  3. To make the game extra fun and involving, get each participant to say why they think their unique characteristics makes them well suited to the team and what this brings to the team.

3) Group Map

Objective: To get people to get to know where each other come from

Participants: 10 to 30

Duration: 10 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: None

Group Map

The group map ice breaker comes in at a solid number three on our list of ice breaker ideas because it is an active game that encourages your team members to get to know each other’s backgrounds and a bit about their childhood values and stories.

Instructions

  1. Get participants to imagine a map.

  2. On this map, participants must stand where they grew up.

  3. Go around the group and ask each participant to say where they are standing and what values they got from this place. To make it even longer, you could ask them to share a short story about their childhood.

4) LEGO Metaphors

Objective: Everyone creates objects from lego that are related to the meeting

Participants: 5 to 10

Duration: 7 to 10 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: Lego bricks (around 5 to 10 per person)

LEGO Metaphors

We personally love this ice breaker idea because it doesn’t sacrifice fun and appeals to everyone’s inner child - who doesn't miss playing with Lego?

This ice breaker also promotes creativity, so it is great to use at the start of a meeting as a quick way to get everyone's creative juices flowing.

Instructions

  1. Give each team member their lego bricks and tell them the main theme for the meeting that is about to commence.

  2. Get everyone to build something with the lego that relates to the topic of the meeting.

  3. After around 3 to 5 minutes, give everyone 30 seconds to explain to the rest of the group what they have built and how it related to the meeting.

5) Four Quadrants Activity

Objective: To create openness in the team and ensure that everyone is heard

Participants: 5 to 20

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: A sheet of paper and a pen per participant

Four Quadrants Activity

We love this because it's been tried and tested over and over again. And, guess what? … It works every time - simple, but effective.

Instructions

  1. Have participants draw up a 2x2 grid on piece of paper you give them.

  2. Ask participants four questions.

  • These can be related to things such as: challenges they are facing, stressors at work, defining moments in their life, pride, fears etc.
  1. Participants then draw the answers to the questions in each relevant quadrant.

  2. Participants show each other their drawings and discuss their creations with each other.

6) Back to Back Drawing

Objective: To get participants speaking to each other and enhancing creativity

Participants: 4 to 20

Duration: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: A list of objects (e.g., a cat, a pen, a car) and a piece of paper and pen per pair

Back to Back Drawing

We love this game because it is a fun and effective way of developing verbal communication.

This ice breaker is also creative, which is important as recent research has found that individual creativity within a team improves the quality of team decision making processes.

This means that teams high in creativity are more effective and have a better team climate.

So, be sure to use this ice breaker to enhance creativity in your team!

Instructions

  1. Get participants to sit facing away from each other.

  2. Give one participant the piece of paper that has an object or phrase written on it. This participant should describe this to the other person without saying directly what they see/without using words the give it away.

  3. The other pair then has to draw a picture of what they think it could be.

7) Low Tech Social Networking

Objective: To introduce participants to each other when they don’t really know each other

Participants: 10 to 50

Duration: 25 to 30 minutes

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: 5 x 8 index card and a pen per participant

Low Tech Social Networking

We love this game because it provides a visual way for participants to get to know each other.

By creating a mural-sized, visual network of their connections, team members can see visually how they relate to each other and find common connections to chat about.

Instructions

  1. Get each participant to draw a picture of themselves.

  2. Stick each participant's picture on a wall/white board (anything that can be written on)!

  3. Each participant takes it in turns to draw lines to the people they know.

8) Blind Square

Objective: All participants have to do is form a square from the rope, whilst blindfolded.

Participants: 6 to 10

Duration: 25 minutes

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: Rope (about 20m) and a blind fold for each participant

Blind Square

This ice breaker is in our list of favourites because it produces results every single time it is used. It is fun, problem-solving focused and light-hearted.

Instructions

  1. Give everyone around 15 minutes of planning time, in which no one can touch the rope.

  2. Set the clock for 10 minutes and blindfold everyone.

  3. Place the rope in the employees hands and ask them to create a square.

  4. Once they think they’ve completed the task they should lay the rope in the square shape on the floor.

  5. Get everyone to take off their blindfold and see the shape they have created.

Tip: to make this game harder, don’t tie the rope into a circle at the start!

Objective: To get participants to draw each other

Participants: 2 to 40

Duration: 30 to 60 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: A sheet of paper and and a pen per participant

Portrait Gallery

This ice breaker is guaranteed to create a laugh and get participants interacting with each other. It’ll get everyone’s creativity flowing - but just make sure people don’t offend each other by drawing terrible pictures!

Instructions

  1. Put participants in pairs and give each person a piece of paper and a selection of pen/pencil colours.

  2. Give participants 20 minutes to draw each other.

  3. At the end, collect the portraits and put them up on the office or staff room wall for a bit of a giggle.

10) Crazy Handshake

Objective: Get everyone to introduce themselves to each other in a creative way

Participants: 5+

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

Crazy Handshake

A similar version of this was shown in our other blog. We love this ice breaker because it easily allows team members to gently ease themselves into their new team, and brings out their creativity.

Instructions

  1. Get participants into pairs.

  2. Get each pair to create a creative handshake.

  3. Split the pairs up and get each newly formed pair to teach each other the original handshake and create a new one.

  4. Keep forming pairs for as long as you like.

Conclusion

We hope you've liked our list of the best ice breaker ideas.

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 ideas list?

Let me know in the comments below.

Heather Harper

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.

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