Ice Breaker Activities: Team Building 101

icebreakeractivitiesEveryone remembers their awkward first day of school when they were a kid.  They walk into their classroom and suddenly realize they do not recognize anyone at all.  Then each individual student will usually have to stand up and say their name in front of everyone to introduce themselves.  This is one way to introduce each other in a group setting, but it isn’t the most effective.  That is when ice breaker activities come into play.

Even as an adult, it can be overwhelming and even scary for some to be on a team or group and not know anyone.  Whether it’s a group project for a college course or a marketing team in a corporate setting, the goal for them is the same.  Have good communication,  work effectively as a team and most importantly, accomplish your goals.  But in order to do this, everyone in the group must feel comfortable with one another and feel equally important.  Team building exercises such as ice breakers are a great way to accomplish just that.

Why Use Ice Breakers?

Ice breakers are activities that are designed to introduce a group of people in an informal, yet intimate way.  The term “ice breaker” comes from the phrase “break the ice”, so its purpose is to break through the shy, awkward feeling most people get when they are around people they do not know.  These types of activities are used in all sorts of environments such as schools, sports teams, work settings, and social gatherings.  It is great to use when a new team is formed, when participants come from different backgrounds, or when the topic being discussed is unfamiliar to everyone in the group.

So why have ice breaker activities?  For one, it is a fun and creative way to introduce each other.  Some activities include the person talking about their lifestyle, hobbies, or childhood.  It can also make the difference between having a hard working, motivated team versus an uncooperative and lazy team.  An effective ice breaker activity will allow people to break out of their shell and feel more confident.  It is also a great way to build morale and trust within the group.

There can also be ineffective ice breakers as well, so it is important to factor in how many people there are, their age, and personalities in the group.  If the game ends up being boring or inappropriate, it can backfire and cause people to go back in their shell.  It will be thought of as nothing more than a waste of time, and that can reflect on the overall performance of the team.  Therefore, it is important to find the right activity, and we have a list of them so see which one will fit your situation best.

Ice Breaker Activities

There are tons of activities out there that you can use.  Here are just a few ideas you could use for your next team building exercise:

Truths and Lie

What better way to introduce each other than by telling a lie?  Everyone in the group will form a circle and they each have to think of three statements about themselves.  Two of them will be true, and one will be false.  One person starts off by stating all three statements, and the group will have to determine which fact is a lie.  After everyone guesses, that person reveals which statement was a lie and then the next person goes.  This game can be played competitively also by keeping score and seeing who can detect the most lies.  It’s a great way of getting to know each other better and encouraging communication.

Draw Me

If the group or team doesn’t mind drawing, this is a great exercise.  Everyone will pull out a piece of paper and write their name in the middle of it.  Then they have 10 minutes to draw or write anything that represents themselves on that same paper, filling up the whole page.  It can be anything from their favorite sport, where they grew up or what they do at their current job.  After everyone is finished drawing, they will go around talking to each other and try to guess what the drawings are trying to portray.  It is not meant to be a competitive activity, but you can tinker it any way you want.

What’s In Common?

Break up into teams of three people or more.  Every group must find something that they all have in common.  It has to be something other than the obvious, like living in the same city or working in the same building.  Maybe everyone has been to Hawaii before, or everyone loves oranges.  Whichever group comes up with something in common first wins.  Since this activity requires a lot of talking, it will not only get people communicating, but they will get to learn about each other.

Sit Down If…

Write down a bunch of statements (depending on how many people there are) on slits of paper and throw them into a hat.  The statement must start with “Sit down if…”.  Each person will take turns reading the paper from the hat, and if that statement applies to anyone in the room, they must sit down.  For example, if it says “Sit down if you are born in December”, then anyone born in December will sit.  Whomever is the last person standing is the winner.  This is a pretty simple yet effective ice breaker, especially for a larger group of people.

Create Your Own

Feel free to modify the activities listed above or you can even design your own.  The key to a successful ice breaker is to focus on meeting your goals and apply  it accordingly.  Try to add some fun and laughter to it, and maybe even give a small prize away to add some incentive.  And if you want to learn more about team building skills, we have a course on developing the skills of your team, coaching and developing the skills of your team and leading from the front for tips on how to lead, coach, and manage a team to success.