Urgh, not another meeting where nobody contributes. You know, the ones where everyone is pretending to listen, but in fact they are just staring into the middle distance thinking about why a “W” is called a double-u when it actually looks like two “Vs”. Well not anymore! Check out our list of 15 of the Best Team Building Icebreakers to help you smash down barriers and get everyone interacting.
Best Team Building Icebreakers – The Shortlist
- Deliberately Provocative – a sure-fire way to spark some heated debates.
- Exquisite Corpse – a hilarious artistic challenge.
- The Great Egg Drop – get cracking! Actually, no, do the opposite!
- The Arm Tangle – unravel a messy web of limbs.
- The Blind Sketch – one describes, one attempts to draw.
- Flip the Blanket – there’s a whole lot more to this one than the name suggests.
- Donkey, Partridge, Pineapple – a confusing, intriguing and entertaining memory game.
15 of the Best Team Building Icebreakers
1. The Obstacle Course
You’ll Need: Obstacles (soft ones), a blindfold.
Rules: A great way to get people up and active, scatter some soft objects across the floor and or get a volunteer themselves to negotiate the course. But here’s the twist: the nominee will be blindfolded. It is up to the rest of the team to guide them from one end to the other. A fun game which is heavily reliant on teamwork and communication!
2. Baby Pictures
You’ll Need: A Picture of everyone as a baby.
Rules: This one requires a little pre-planning, get everyone to bring in a picture of themselves as a baby. Before your meeting, you can put up the pictures on a wall or a board and then it’s down to everyone to names to (baby) faces. Not only is this funny and more entertaining than your run-of-the-mill icebreakers, but it can also help break down barriers.
3. Deliberately Provocative
You’ll Need: Absolutely nothing!
Rules: A sure-fire way to spark (potentially heated) debates. Get each of your co-workers to share an opinion they hold which is considered controversial or divisive – obviously keep it light. “I think kittens are creepy,” “Pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza,” “Disney movies are the source of all the unhappiness in the world…”. Everyone will soon be chipping in making them more confident in bigger meetings. It also gives people practise at presenting new ideas and opinions.
4. Exquisite Corpse
You’ll Need: Paper and pens.
Rules: Artistic talent is irrelevant with this one, in fact, the worse the better! Grab a sheet of paper and fold it into three equal sections. In groups of three, you’ll each take it in turns to draw a section of a person. The top third is reserved for the head, the middle third for the body and the final third for the legs and feet. Each team member will draw one section and then fold it over so the others can’t see when they draw their part. Trust us, the results are hysterical.
You’ll Need: A tube of Smarties (or any coloured sweets)
Rules: Everyone loves chocolate so you’re off to a winner here (if you don’t love chocolate you’ve found your statement for Game 3). Dish out the Smarties to your team and tell them to refrain from eating them just yet. Each player will then answer a question on a particular topic. You can even assign colours to categories E.g. Blue = Funny fact, Pink = Embarrassing moment, Orange = Would you rather… etc.
6. The Great Egg Drop
You’ll Need: Eggs and stationery (paper, paper clips, pens etc).
Rules: A classic icebreaker, but hopefully not a chronic eggbreaker, The Great Egg Drop is a test of communication, interaction and craftsmanship. Split the group into teams, then you’ll all need to fashion a protective layer to prevent your egg from breaking when dropped from a height. The only tools at your disposal are office equipment. We’re talking paper, paper clips, pens. It’s harder than you think and really brings out people’s creativity! Get cracking (Eggs – cracking? No? We’ll get our coat…).
7. The Arm Tangle
You’ll Need: Arms to be tangled.
Rules: One that requires minimal effort to set up, but maximum effort to unravel. Split into teams and get everyone to stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle. Each group member will then hold out their right arm and hold hands with the person opposite. Once this is done, do the same with the other hand. The task is to try and get out of the tangled mess without letting go of your hands. Communication and teamwork are key to get out of the messy web of limbs.
8. The Blind Sketch
You’ll Need: Pen, paper and pictures of random objects.
Rules: Get two people to sit back to back. One person will be given a pen and paper, and the other will be given a picture of a random object (the funnier/weirder the better). It is then down to the person with the picture to describe what they are seeing without saying the name of the object. For example, if they have a picture of a giraffe eating a watermelon you couldn’t say “giraffe” or “watermelon”. The other person then has to try and draw said picture. Quick, simple, hilariously fun.
9. Speed Dating
You’ll Need: Chairs and desks.
Rules: Not literal speed dating, that’s an HR minefield waiting to happen. This is Colleague Icebreaker Quick Chat Chatting Session (see, doesn’t have the same ring to it, hence speed dating!). Mix people up so they are grouped with people they don’t know. You then have two minutes to go around five different people and find out something interesting, something funny and something embarrassing about them. You can alter the time and the questions to suit your group.
10. Flip the Blanket
You’ll Need: A blanket.
Rules: On the face of it, this one doesn’t sound particularly difficult or entertaining, but you should never judge a book by its cover or an icebreaker by its title. More fool the person who didn’t read this section. With this one, you’ll get your team to stand on a blanket. The challenge is to turn it the other way up without any member of the group stepping off it. It requires a great deal of communication and teamwork and is definitely harder than you think it is.
11. Draw a Colleague
You’ll Need: Pen and paper.
Rules: The potential to offend, but in the funniest, most light-hearted way possible. Draw a colleague is simple: pair up and sketch the person opposite you. Mix and match so people are paired with people they don’t know that well. If people moan that they cannot draw, that simply adds to the fun and makes the icebreaker better.
12. The Blind Square Challenge
You’ll Need: Rope and blindfolds.
Rules: Split into groups and stand in circles holding the rope. Once you have a near perfect circle, place the rope on the floor. Next, put on your blindfolds and then move the rope into the shape of a square. It’s incredible how much communication is required when you remove your sense of sight, this is a real test of ingenuity, teamwork and imagination. Set a time limit to really put the pressure on. Points to the best square!
13. You Did What?!
You’ll Need: Pen and paper, bowl or hat.
Rules: Another one that requires minimal preparation, get everybody in the group to write down something funny, interesting or embarrassing they have done and place it into the hat. This then gets passed around the group and each individual must pick out a piece of paper and then try and guess who wrote the confession they pulled out.
14. No Fun
You’ll Need: A zero tolerance to fun.
Rules: Contrary to its name, this game is actually incredibly funny. At the beginning of the meeting enforce a no smiles/laughter/fun rule for the first five minutes. Inevitably, when you tell a group of people not to have fun or smile, they find everything ten times as funny. Tell a funny/awful joke and watch it descend into chaos (and, from our own experience, it does!). An incredibly basic concept, but a really fantastic icebreaker.
15. Donkey, Partridge, Pineapple
You’ll Need: Thankfully you won’t actually need a donkey, partridge or a pineapple! In fact, you won’t need anything!
Rules: A game everyone loves and adores, Donkey, Partridge, Pineapple is a world-renowned icebreaker played throughout the globe. OK, we lied, we just made it up, but it will one day be the cornerstone of every office meeting. To play, stand in a circle, the person who starts says the sacred words: “Donkey, Partridge, Pineapple,” then the person next to them says: “Partridge, Pineapple, Donkey,” then the next person says: “Pineapple, Donkey, Partridge” and so on. A test of your listening skills, if you get the order wrong you are out!