Humans are social creatures. We derive enjoyment, fulfilment and meaning from being around other people. Being in an office or a workplace no different to any other social environment - we mingle, chat, laugh and make friends. That’s why it’s not uncommon for some people to cite the best thing about their job are their coworkers!
The science is clear - according to a Gallup poll, engaged employees are 21% more productive. Effective team leaders and scrum masters should be looking at ways to actively encourage social cohesion. One actionable way of immediately boosting employee engagement is by utilizing icebreaker games. Playing fun, quick and energizing games before your meetings is a proven way to get team members to open up to one another and create deeper bonds. That being said, it won’t happen overnight. Try to embed icebreaker games into part of your routine and organizational culture.
Knowing when and how to use icebreaker games is key. When you play the same icebreaker games again and again, it loses its novelty very quickly. Instead of being a delightful break from work, it can easily become just another monotonous chore. That’s why having a large repertoire of games to choose from keeps the variety and excitement levels high.
What is a fun icebreaker question?
A fun icebreaker question is one that is one that is a bit quirky and is amusing to answer. Asking fun icebreaker questions is a good way to shake things up from having the same small talk every day.
Here are a few examples of fun icebreaker questions:
What is your spirit animal?
If animals could talk, which would be the most boring?
What song would you play if you were at a party?
Is cereal another type of soup?
Our blog post 81 Funny Questions to Ask is a great place to start if you’re looking for more fun icebreaker questions.
What do you say during ice breakers?
If you have a lot of introverted and shy people in your team (or maybe you are one yourself), it may be hard to strike up a free flowing conversation. You may think that’s a reason not to do icebreakers, but in fact it’s the opposite. A good icebreaker is something that helps everyone get out of their shells - because no matter how quiet a person may seem, there’s always a part of them that wants to express themselves to others.
So what do you actually say during an icebreaker? A good rule of thumb is to share something about yourself. If you’re the facilitator of the session, it’s a good idea to start first and set a solid example. Here are some ideas on what to say during an ice breaker:
- Introduce yourself in a friendly and candid fashion.
- Don’t state any facts about yourself that others can already find on your email signature or LinkedIn profile (name, position title etc.)
- Instead, share something about yourself that others may not know. The quirkier the better. Maybe you only like the taste of anchovies when they’re on pizza but otherwise can’t stand them? Something like that really adds character and uniqueness to your introduction.
- Ask questions and engage with other people’s icebreakers! Positive affirmation and followup questions, or even smiling and nodding when somebody is sharing will encourage them to continue opening up to you in the future.
How do you break the ice on Zoom?
As more and more teams move to partial or fully remote setups, a big concern is losing engagement with remote employees. Without the physical environment of the office, a lot of incidental interactions are lost. Unless we take extra measures to build trust and connection with our colleagues, it’s easy to make them feel shunned and left out. Although we may be checking in often on our video conferencing tools, how connected and engaged are your team actually feeling?
Just because you are not in the same room as your co-worker, doesn’t mean you can’t grow closer with them. We’ve put together a list of virtual breakers that you can add to your repertoire the next time you have a virtual team meeting.
What are some good ice breaker games?
Here's a list of good ice breaker games to play in any scenario. The best part is they're all playable even if your team is fully remote!
Question of the Day
How many times have you started off the same old conversations with the same old superficial small talk? Playing Question of the Day is a simple and easy way to shake things up a bit. The key benefit of this game is everybody gets a turn to speak and share with the group. Fostering open and honest communication is crucial for developing healthy team culture, so when somebody is sharing their answer to the Question of the Day, make sure to listen to them and give your full attention.
How to play Question of the Day:
- Find a list of open ended questions, and get them ready before the meeting. These questions can be either fun and lighthearted or deep and meaningful, depending on the vibe you are trying to create. For icebreakers with a new group, we suggest the fun and lighthearted option.
- Get a stopwatch or a timer. How long you set the time for each player will depend on the size of the group, and how much time you want to devote to the icebreaker. A good rule of thumb is to keep the total game time to around 10-15 minutes. So if you have 7 people, 2 minutes is a good time to stick to.
- Go around and take turns answering the questions. Once the timer is up, it’s time to wrap things up and nominate the next person to answer their question. If somebody runs out of things to say before the timer is up, the group or facilitator can ask them followup questions.
That’s it! Although this isn’t really a “game”, it’s a really effective way to encourage communication and sharing.
As a team leader or facilitator, you may be thinking this is a great idea but it might also sound like a lot of work to prepare the questions. The simplest way to play Question of the Day is to head over to Brightful Games and host a game. It only takes seconds to get started, comes loaded with both Deep and Lighthearted questions, as well as a timer for each player.
Remember when you are just a kid in school and did nice little drawings for Mom to put up on the fridge? Somewhere along the way we grew up and forgot what it felt like to just draw without worrying if others would judge our artistic talent (or lack thereof). Drawing is a fun, easy and natural way to tap into our creative sides. That’s also what makes it a fantastic icebreaker game. If you don't have pens and paper available because your team is remote, look no further than Draw It!
How to play Draw It!
- Create a game room with Brightful (it’s free and takes just seconds). Choose from a selection of game types created by the Brightful community (e.g. Animals, Pop culture, Game of Thrones) that best suits your audience.
- Copy and send the game room invitation link to your colleagues
- Start the game once they’ve all joined. Everybody takes a turn choosing a word to draw on their mobile or desktop, and the rest of the players try to guess the word. Points are awarded for correct guesses from the drawer and the guesser.
- The timer, scores and winner are all automatically taken care of by the game, so once everyone has had a turn, the game will announce the winner!
If you are planning on hosting a training or seminar with a large group of people, you can limit the amount of players who get a chance to draw. This is great because everyone will still be able to take turns guessing but the game won’t drag on for a long time. You can also create your own list of words to draw, so you can tailor the content to match your event!
Spot My Lie
How well do you really know someone in your team? Playing Spot My Lie (also known as 2 Truths 1 Lie) as an icebreaker will put that to the test. Not only is it a fun game of cunning and deception, it’s also a great way to learn cool facts about one another! This game is also perfect for introducing new members to the team.
Here’s how to play Spot My Lie
- Everybody writes down 2 truths, and 1 lie about themselves. These should be personal snippets of information that isn’t very obvious, such as “I enjoy playing soccer” or “I broke my foot in fifth grade”.
- Go around the group, taking turns reading out the truths and lies
- Other players of the group try to guess which answer is the lie
That’s all there is to it, there’s no need to calculate scores or a winner. That’s because this is not a competitive game, rather it’s a way for people to learn interesting facts about one another. The best fun is when you can trick others into thinking something is a lie when it’s actually true.
10 Things in Common
This game is great for large groups, and is actually a two in one team building game as well as an icebreaker. The thing that makes it a great icebreaker is it gets people sharing about themselves, while the aspect of relating and finding common ground is a fantastic way to build team rapport.
Another great thing about this game is that it’s super simple to play. All you need to do is break into groups of 5 to 10 people, and start a discussion. The aim of the game is to find 10 things that everybody in the group has in common. Try to find creative answers rather than super obvious facts (e.g. “everybody has been to Thailand” is a better answer than “everybody has ears”)
Would You Rather
An oldie but a goldie, who else remembers killing time by striking up interesting Would You Rather conversations when you were younger? It’s a classic for a reason, and is great when used in a work setting to break the ice. All you need is a set of great Would You Rather questions, and voila! You’ve got yourself a tried and true ice breaker that’s going to stir up interesting conversations in no time.
What makes a good Would You Rather question? The two options have to be equally appealing (or repulsive), to really force the player to make a hard decision. The best Would You Rather questions will really polarize the group’s opinions, and that’s the best part - after everybody has voted, it’s fun to ask people to debate and justify their decisions. You end up learning a lot about someone by how they explain their thinking.
Would You Rather questions can also come in multiple flavors. They can be lighthearted, which are silly and ridiculous. Lighthearted Would You Rather questions are perfect for lightening the mood and creating a fun atmosphere. Here are some examples of lighthearted questions:
- Would you rather be able to shrink down to the size of an ant or grow to the size of a skyscraper?
- Would you rather be able to control animals or be able to see into the future?
- Would you rather wear a green leprechaun hat every day or fairy wings?
On the flipside, if you want to use Would You Rather as a way to get to know your colleagues on a more meaningful level, you can play Deep Would You Rather questions. Here are a few examples:
- Would you rather be infamous in history books or be forgotten after your death?
- Would you rather be liked by everyone you’ve ever met or have everything you’ve ever wanted?
- Would you rather have an exciting but dangerous life or a boring but meaningful life?
These are best played with colleagues or friends that you are already quite familiar with. Seeing their perspectives on things may really help strengthen your bond with them.
If you want to try Would You Rather but don’t have the time to research all these light or deep questions yourself, the easiest way to hop into a game is by playing it on Brightful. You can get started in seconds and it comes loaded with hundreds of Deep or Light-hearted questions.
How do you start a fun team meeting?
Icebreaker games are a perfect way to start a team meeting off with some fun. But playing the same games over and over again can be tiresome. The best way you can quickly and easily start a fun team meeting over Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or any other video conferencing tool!) is with Brightful. Hosting a game takes seconds, and it works perfectly alongside your existing communicating channels. As long as your team has access to either a computer or mobile device, they will be able to join the game. Make sure to choose a game that is fun and energizing to play, and you can even control the time each player gets, ensuring that the games don’t run overtime.
How long should an ice breaker be?
As a general rule of thumb, icebreakers should be used as a way to kickstart engagement before a meeting. Therefore it should not be too long, or your team might get distracted from the more substantial content of the meeting. Careful planning of which icebreaker game to play, as well as how long to allocate time for each player is essential for creating the best team-building or training experience.
Here are just some suggestions for how long an ice breaker should be:
- If the meeting itself is a 20 minute daily standup, then a short and quick 10 minute icebreaker is perfect for getting the energy levels up. Play something that is fast paced and that will wake the team up and prime everyone for creativity
- If the meeting is 60 minutes long and with people that you might not have met before, then try a 15 minute icebreaker. Use “Get to know you” icebreakers that focus on conversation (e.g. Question of the Day) as a way to warm up the crowd and build rapport.
You should hopefully by now understand the power of icebreaker games. If you're still not convinced about the power that games can have on team cohesion, you can check out some different styles of games including the classic Werewolf social deduction - which although not an icebreaker, is perfect for team building.