Team building icebreakers are designed to loosen people up in social settings. They are meant to fast-track group familiarity and ease the socialization process in a new environment. Whether you love them or hate them, employing an icebreaker in a group setting gives people the opportunity to engage and get comfortable with one another.
We’ve all experienced our fair share of great and not-so-great icebreakers. When it comes to team building icebreakers, not all are created equal. Some require extensive preparation or elaborate building materials that many would deem overwhelming to plan. We believe icebreakers shouldn’t be complicated, so we set out to find the most simple yet effective team building icebreakers that any team leader could execute.
Here are 10 simple team building icebreakers that will break the ice on any team.
1. 10 things in common
Split everyone into pairs and hand each pair a piece of paper. Each pair is responsible for finding 10 things they have in common with one another. Remember to tell everyone easy cop-outs aren’t allowed, like “we both have hands”. Once they find 10 things they have in common, they share their discoveries with the group.
The point of this icebreaker is to help direct conversations and to find some similarities between you and your partner. You can repeat this a few times to have people chat with someone new.
2. Baby photos
This activity requires a bit of preparation. Beforehand, send out a request for baby photos from each individual. The choice is up to them. They can bring in a physical photo in or simply snap a picture of their baby photo and email it in. Once you’ve compiled the photos place them all up on a board, numbering each one.
Thereafter the game is simple. Guess which photo belongs to which employee by writing a name beside the corresponding number. The person who gets the most correct guesses takes home the grand prize.
3. First/worst job
First/worst job is a remix of the baby photo icebreaker. Beforehand, have everyone write down their first or worst job. The person leading then reads out each job and the group tries to figure out who is who. Alternatively, this can be simplified even further by simply going around in a circle and sharing what your first or worst job experience was.
4. Two truths, one lie
Two truths, one lie is one of our personal favourites in small group settings. Standing in a circle, each person lists off two truths about themselves and one lie. The truths and lies can be anything or be restricted to a theme, the choice is yours. One after another, the group will decide what the two truths are and which one is a lie. It’s great fun, especially if participants include something funny that has happened to them in the past.
5. Turning over a new leaf
Another personal favourite icebreaker of ours involves a little teamwork and physicality. You’ll need a few blankets or sheets or something similar in size and flexibility. Number people off into groups of four or five. Lay the blankets flat and have each team stand on top of their blanket like it’s a tiny island. The goal of this exercise is to figure out how to flip the blanket over without letting anyone on the team touch the floor (pretend the floor is lava). If one person falls off the island, the whole team must restart. The first team to flip their blanket over wins. It’s a great problem-solving exercise that typically involves a lot of laughter and rolling around on the floor.
6. This is better than that
This team building icebreaker is a fun spin on the classic deserted island scenario. To prepare, grab about eight random items from around the office. It can be anything from a stapler to a chair. Try your best to pick as many interesting or odd items as you can for more absurd results. Lay out the items and number people off into groups. The goal for this icebreaker is for groups to select the item they’d bring with them to a deserted island to help them survive. After teams deliberate, regroup and allow each team to present which item they chose and why.
Related Reading: Remote Team-building Series: Virtual Team-building Activities
7. Super specific office trivia
Super specific office trivia is designed to test everyone’s awareness of their surroundings. The organizer is tasked with coming up with a game of trivia using super specific details about the office and the organization. Example questions may look like:
- How many company branded coffee mugs do we have in the break room?
- What colour is the sticker on the table in meeting room number 4?
- How many gadgets does the boss have on their desk?
- What year/month did the organization move into the new office?
- How many people work in customer support?
The more specific the questions, the better. The whole idea is for teams to discuss and debate fun or funny facts about the place they work. Who knows, they might even learn and a thing or two!
8. Fun and funny questions
Fun and funny questions are easy to pull off with minimal preparation. With the help of the internet, you’ll put together a list of fun and thought-provoking questions for groups to discuss and present. The preselected questions are meant to facilitate discussion and debate. A few example questions are:
- If you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be?
- If you woke up tomorrow as an animal, what animal would you choose to be and why?
- If you could live anywhere on this planet and take everything that you love with you, where would you choose to live?
- Are you sunrise, daylight, twilight, or night? Please share why you picked your time of day.
- If you could choose to stay one age forever, what age would you choose and why?
- If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play?
- If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose and why?
- If you were a candy bar, which candy bar would you be and why?
- If you were to change your name, what name would you adopt going forward? Why?
The internet (especially Reddit) is full of fun and brain-twisting questions for you to discover. The hardest part is choosing which questions you want to include.
9. One question
Pretend like you are part of the hiring team at a fictional company. You and your team are tasked with finding your next superstar candidate with one caveat: you can only ask the candidate one question to determine whether or not they’d suit the role. You can make this game as absurd or as practical as you wish. For example, the role you could hypothetically recruit for could be for General of the Star Wars Rebel Army, a kindergarten teacher, or a tour guide for an African safari company. It’s up to you to add your own creativity to the game. Once each group has their role, they are sent away to discuss and brought back to present their question and reasoning to everyone.
10. Egg drop
Egg drop is the classic science class project remixed as a team building icebreaker. You’ll need a carton of eggs for this exercise. Teams are tasked with using materials from around the office to protect an egg from breaking when dropped from about ten feet. Each team should have access to the same office materials like paper, paper clips, tape, erasers, and pens. The teams will compete to see who can protect their egg from breaking all while using the least amount of materials possible.
Related reading: Remote Team-building Series: Ice Breakers for Remote Teams
Team building icebreakers are great at bringing people together and expediting the socialization process. Naturally, there will always be some pushback to icebreakers, so you might as well make yours easy and fun.
If you’re tasked with coming up with some team building icebreakers for your next meeting, it doesn’t have to be hard. We believe the best icebreakers are simple and only require a few materials. Follow the 10 team building icebreakers we shared here and we guarantee your next team meeting will go off without a hitch!