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Collaboration and Communication
Ice-breakers or warm-up activities help teams focus on the meeting, be in the present, and give teams a chance to improve feelings of comradery and trust. Both co-located and remote teams can benefit from investing a few minutes at the beginning of meetings to help the team clear out distractions with a few fun ice breaker questions and activities.
Not all activities are created equally. While some exercises are great for team building, others may be better suited for creating focus, or building anticipation for the meeting ahead. Before you choose between a funny icebreaker question or more extensive team-building activities, you should first ask yourself a few questions.
Answering these questions will help the facilitator decide the purpose of the icebreaker and choose the best exercise for the team. To help you get started we have a list of Icebreakers broken down by purpose. Whether you are leading co-located or virtual teams, these exercises are meant to help support team bonding, ease anxiety, and give everyone a chance for a little fun!
Life is chaotic, and zoom and virtual meeting fatigue is real. A quick check-in is the perfect style of icebreaker if your team needs to take a break from the rest of the world and focus on the meeting at hand.
Meeting to meeting. Project to project. Give your participants a chance to take a break. Start a timer for 1-minute. Then give participants a chance to write down everything they want to remember from their last meeting, or simply take a minute to refresh.
This is a good way to get the meeting started quickly. Each participant shares how they feel about this meeting in one word or a very short phrase. Excited? Anxious? This is a great exercise to help the facilitator gauge enthusiasm and psychological safety. Use the responses to help you build and navigate the discussions.
About to have a few tense meetings? A safety check is a great way to make sure that everyone feels comfortable moving forward. To run a safety check, participants rate how comfortable they feel speaking openly and honestly in the upcoming meeting. To make sure you receive honest feedback use a tool or technique that ensures anonymous feedback.
New team or old. Practically strangers or the best of friends. Icebreaker games are a great way to help the team bond, improve company culture, build trust, and enjoy a little light-hearted rivalry.
Have participants share an object in their home or office that brings them joy or is a fun story to tell. Especially great for remote teams that can have objects already on their desk.
Challenge expectations and assumptions with this one. The rules are pretty simple, each person tells three facts about themselves, two truths and one lie. It is up to the rest of the group to decide which fact is the lie.
Plot Twist! You can also switch this game up by having people tell a partially true story about themselves, but the story has one lie in it. It is up to the group to decide which part of the story is a lie. Be careful of this activity around well-established teams that may know all the answers!
The general premise of constellations is the facilitator states an opinion. The rest of the group demonstrates how much they agree with that opinion. There are multiple ways both co-located and remote teams can enjoy this one. If everyone is in the office, team members move closer or farther away from the center of the room. For distributed teams, you can have team members sit or stand if they agree, or they can use a team radar to show how much they agree with the prompt. Warning: Be careful with sports teams!
Have a diverse crowd? Music lovers at heart? Make the most of it by having each person contribute one of their favorite songs that they love or they feel represents how they are feeling. This is especially great for starting retreats or longer multiday events as you know have a playlist to play during downtimes throughout the event.
Want to introduce some physical activities? This activity is completed in rounds. In each round, one person of the team contributes a dance step. At the end of the round, the whole group dances all the steps that have been shared. For example, In the first round, one person shares a dance step, then everyone completes that dance step. In the second round, the second person shares a dance step and everyone does the first and second dance step, and so on and so on. The more people in the meeting the longer the activity (and workout) becomes.
Large or small groups can enjoy this one. The larger group is broken into smaller breakout groups. The breakout group then has to come up with something they all have in common (other than whatever brought them there in the first place.) The more rounds the harder the more challenging this activity becomes. Want to make it even more challenging? Put a time limit on breakout group conversation.
Similar to share an object, members share a story inspired by what is on their keys! This activity gives insights into individuals' hometowns, hobbies, vacations, and places that team members hold dear.
Centering activities can help teams that have already have buy-in in the meeting and are excited to get started on a great meeting.
Have a meeting that requires some innovative ideas? Get the creative juices flowing by creating a story together. The facilitator starts the story with a topic and then chooses the next person who tells the next part of the story. At random intervals, the facilitator switches to the next person to add to the story until everyone has contributed.
If the upcoming meeting focusing on analysis, get everyone in the right headspace by posing a simulated issue. Then use breakout groups for the participants to contribute a piece of advice to solve the problem. This activity not only encourages collaboration and helps the team focus on problem solving and innovation.
Whether for a multi-day event, or a reoccurring meeting. This activity asks participants to reflect on what they learned from the last meeting and share what they have gained from the experience. Quick, easy, and a great way to gauge growth and goal follow-through.
The exact opposite of reflection. A great way to start the meeting on a positive note, ask participants, what are they looking forward to in the meeting to come?
Have a reoccurring team meeting like a retrospective or all hands? Start with shoutouts to coworkers in order to promote a safe, welcoming, and positive environment!
Why are we here? If your team is asking this or if the reason is vague. Teammates must work together to create a question that the team will strive to answer by the end of the meeting. The results of this activity can be referenced throughout the meeting to keep conversations on track. At the end of the discussion, look back to make sure you answered the starting question.
Asking a question is one of the simplest ways to break the ice and start a conversation.
Don't want to choose? Try our icebreaker picker!
Here are 60 of our favorite ice breaker questions for meetings!
What more ice breaker ideas? Check out what LinkedIn had to say.