What are some good icebreaker games

5 icebreakers that get any meeting or team building event rolling

Do you know the movie scenes known from westerns and comedies, in which there is absolute silence and a small bale of straw, propelled by the wind, rolls through the picture? And have you ever remembered exactly that unpleasant scene in a meeting with your work colleagues because nobody wanted to speak first? These deadlocked situations can occur more frequently in professional life than you might think - meetings with customers or potential partners, team building events with new employees, when different work groups come together, at trade fairs and congresses or simply at the table in the canteen with unknown employees.

It is not uncommon for the first step into a conversation with the other person to be the same social minefield. If you ask the wrong question, you quickly leave a negative impression. If you hesitate to start the interaction, you quickly come across as reserved or even introverted. If you reel off standard phrases, you may be perceived as unimaginative or even unappealing. If you start the conversation too openly, you come across as intrusive. There is a fine line between being able to conduct a conversation appropriately and restraint, not to mention barriers such as customs or personality traits. Because while one person seems to float effortlessly across the networking floor, the other is terribly tense and uncomfortable in the same situation.

But there is no reason to be despondent about opening a conversation in a group or with individuals. Because they exist, the ultimate beacon for all straw bale scenes: the tried and tested icebreakers. Icebreakers are every form of question, game, activity or event in which Mpeople can talk to each other in a pleasant and simple way, so we can get warm with each other. In opinion research, they are often used as an introductory question to arouse the interest of study participants. At team building events, on the other hand, they are a suitable means of getting to know each other, stimulating the conversation and having fun together in this interaction.

The main reasons for using an icebreaker are the following:

  • Unknown participants in a conversation or meeting should get to know each other better in a pleasant and informal way.
  • Participants of an interaction who are already known to each other can better get into conversation with one another with the help of an icebreaker.
  • If there are any hierarchies among the participants in the conversation, for example due to age differences or different job positions, icebreakers can be valuable support in overcoming barriers in communication.
  • Depending on the situation, an icebreaker can be an important impetus for a meeting, for example by specifically directing attention to a topic.

There are various ways to incorporate an icebreaker into a team event or when meeting colleagues or strangers. Some people even develop the communication aids themselves, which requires a certain amount of experience in dealing with conversations and knowledge of human nature. However, so that you can benefit from the effects of an icebreaker without any further effort, we have prepared a small selection for you.

1. Funny and casual questions to start the conversation

This type of icebreaker is particularly suitable for meetings or team building events with the aim of getting to know each other. For discussions at congresses or with potential partners, they are only suitable to a limited extent due to their not very serious character, but can still be helpful in isolated occasions. The point of a funny question as an introduction is to Loosen up participants. The focus should be steered away from the conservative and probably far too serious framework of the meeting and thus help your employees to feel comfortable. Because if you have fun doing it, you are much more open-minded towards everything that follows. A feeling of belonging, camaraderie and understanding emerges much more quickly among the interlocutors. Here are some examples of such questions:

  • Is it “the” or “that” Nutella? Do you eat them with or without butter?
  • If you were a vegetable, what would it be and why?
  • If you landed on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
  • If you could have lunch with someone of your choosing, who would you choose?
  • Which name would you choose if you were allowed to change yours?

There are no limits to your imagination! Prepare a few questions that you are sure will amuse your team or your counterpart. You will see how the fun comes on by itself.

2) Three combo as an icebreaker

Similar to the first example, this icebreaker can be used with both known and unknown participants. You can make this loose or relevant depending on your needs and preference, because that The basic principle remains the same: You ask your counterpart for 3 answers to a specific question and a reason. Here are a few variations for casual use, which are particularly suitable for getting to know each other and warming up the conversation:

  • Which 3 books did you read last and why?
  • Which 3 movies are the worst you have ever seen and why?
  • Which 3 countries would you like to visit? Why?

Equally interesting is the use of this icebreaker with questions relating to the team or the meeting of the interviewees:

  • Which 3 aspects would you change in your work?
  • What 3 things do you like about contact with customers / partners?
  • What 3 changes would you like to see in the company?

Here, too, you can draw on the full potential of the design and adapt the icebreaker to your own ideas. In the case of larger groups, you can also separate them into small teams and let them work out the questions among themselves. If the time frame allows, a representative from each team could briefly present the common answers. Usually this involves exchanges lots of potential for further conversations and interaction.  

3) The one-word icebreaker

This type of icebreaker is also ideal for team meetings or team building events. It's about, to capture the first thoughts and reactions of the participants on a particular topic and thus stimulate the discussion. Conveniently, this can be a topic that was already up for discussion by the working group or any other topic of discussion. If there is a small number of participants, they can act individually. In the case of a larger group or even when several departments come together, it is worth dividing into groups. In doing so, you should make sure to break up familiar groups and instead split up the people arbitrarily. This can be done by drawing numbers or by more creative methods like randomly handing out candy bars (for example “Team Snickers” etc.). The advantage of the latter is that candy bars automatically lift the mood because Meetings always make you hungry. The next task is simple: "Which word come to mind when you think of X". Complete the “X” with the topic to be discussed. In a small group with individually acting participants, everyone should write their thoughts on a piece of paper and pick them up. In the case of working groups, it is worth taking a minute to think about it, during which the groups discuss among themselves and then commit to one word. You will be surprised which one interesting impulses these first associations for further discussion of the topic will be given! Afterwards, ask the participants why they chose the respective words and you will receive further input. If you don't want to deal with a specific topic but instead want to get to know each other better, you can also use this one-word exercise with the following questions:

  • What word would you use to describe your team / person?
  • What word would you use to describe your relationship with your boss?
  • What word would you use to describe your work?

4) Icebreaker Games

Some well-known party and school playground games can also be used for business meetings and team building. As a rule, it is not just the ice that is broken, but the ice the laughing muscles are also strained. Here are some game variants that you can use to loosen up a meeting. Who was it?Hand out sticky notes to all participants and ask them to write down an embarrassing trait or a funny work anecdote (here, too, you are again flexible in the design). Then shuffle the pieces of paper and ask all participants to take turns to attach a randomly drawn sticky note of the person you suspect to be the originator. Who am I?It starts again with sticky notes that you hand out to all participants. Now ask them to sit in a circle and then assign an imaginary person to the person sitting next to them on the left. This could be a historical figure, a star, or someone familiar from the workplace. The participants should then write the name of the chosen person face down on the piece of paper and stick it - without cheating - on the forehead of the person sitting next to them on the left. Now everyone in turn has to ask questions about “his person” and thus guess who he is. The group answers the questions collectively. If the question can be answered with a “yes”, the participant may ask another question. If it is answered with “No”, the next person has questions. Truth or lie?Each participant is asked to come up with 3 anecdotes, two of which are true and one of which is made up. They then have to tell this to the rest of the group, letting the others guess which anecdote is a lie.Association fireThe participants should stand in a circle (emphasis on standing, because this awakens tired minds and increases the ability to concentrate). Have the first person say any word aloud.The following participant on the left should then name a word that he or she can connect with the first one. It is important that this process should take place very quickly and without a long reflection period.

5) The icebreaker of common ground

This icebreaker is a great opportunity Bringing team members closer together. To do this, divide the participants into small groups. A fair option for this is to count through numbers from 1 to x (x stands for the number of groups). All ones are then in one group, all twos in another, and so on. Now ask the participants in each group to find 10 things they have in common and write them down on a piece of paper. These cannot be obvious things like “two eyes” or “I work in the same company”, but should instead be more personal. With this exercise you ensure that employees get into conversation with one another who, under normal working conditions, might never have this kind of personal contact. Observe how the participants go beyond inhibitions to accomplish the task that they would otherwise obey. If everyone feels comfortable, the results can then be evaluated together.

Choosing the right icebreaker

In addition to the ones just mentioned, there are many other ways to make a gathering more pleasant and to start an event such as a team meeting. It is important that when choosing or designing your own icebreaker, you should consider the observe the following criteria:

  • time - How much time do you have? How many minutes do you want to assign to the icebreaker? Should it only serve as an introduction to the topic or should it be a key element of the conversation?
  • composition - What group of people does the event consist of? Is the ambience suitable for the icebreaker? What are the possible interests and preferences of the participants?
  • purpose - What do you want to achieve with the icebreaker? Should it only initiate the interaction between the participants or should it help to reduce fear of contact with deeper topics?

As soon as you have determined the necessary criteria for your event, it will be much easier for you to choose the right icebreaker (or perhaps even the right icebreaker). It will be worth the effort!