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Icebreaker Ideas

Obviously there's no shortage of icebreaker exercises to be found on the internet. Here are a few of my go-tos.

When you find a few that you want to use, duplicate the
section for each one.

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List of Icebreakers
0
Activity name
How long does it take?
How does it work?
Anything else?
1
Is - Is Not - Does - Does Not
20 mins
Divide a flipchart into 4 quadrants, labelling each quadrant with one of the following titles: Is, Is Not, Does, Does Not. Ask the team members to describe the team on post-its (one idea per post-it) and put them in the corresponding quadrants. Group similar descriptions and discuss each quadrant as a group.
This activity helps the team to build a consensus on how they define the team.
2
SWOT Analysis
25 mins
4 quadrants: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Everyone in the group has a different colour post-it pad. They then have to think about how to answer for the following questions for them as individuals: 1. Strengths – “write down what you feel you do well and can help the team” 2. Weaknesses – “what are the things that you could improve?” After these 2 sections, read out the post-its on the board and discuss as a group. Then ask them to do the same for the other 2 quadrants. 3. Opportunities – “given the team’s strengths, what can you capitalize on and take as a lead to be successful?” 4. Threats – “with those weaknesses, what are the obstacles you will have to overcome?” Again read out the answers and discuss as a group.
We often do SWOT for the team as a whole, but this allows everyone to get to know people on an individual level. It also allows team members to contribute to other's strengths which they hadn't thought of before!
3
Human Knot
10 mins
Standing in a circle, participants must hold hands with 2 others from the group. As a team, they must then unravel the knot without breaking the chain of hands.
This is a quick and fun exercise that builds team camaraderie and works as an energiser. Clear instructions required at outset!
4
1,2,3 Game
10 mins
Instructor and volunteer start off. Instructor says 1, volunteer says 2, instructor says 3, volunteer says 1, instructor says 2 and repeat until the team gets the idea. Then have the group divide into pairs and do the same for 1 minute. Now the instructor and volunteer do the same again, but this time instead of '1', you clap your hands. Once demonstrated, have the group do the exercise for 1 minute. Now the instructor and volunteer do the same again, but this time, continue with '1' as a clap, and add a click of the fingers instead of '2'. Once demonstrated, have the group do the exercise for 1 minute. Now the instructor and volunteer do the same again, but this time, continue with '1' as a clap, a click of the fingers instead of '2', and add a slap of your knee (or whatever you'd prefer!) for '3'. Once demonstrated, have the group do the exercise for 1 minute. Now have the team simply repeat the exericse, but this time count '1,2, 3' again i.e. no actions. The goal here is to show that while the simple 1, 2, 3 was difficult at the beginning, it gets much easier as you move on to try harder things. Also the bond and rhythm between the pairs improves the ability to do the exercise.
This is an exercise for high performance and works as an energiser and team building activity.
5
Journey Lines
1 hr
Team members share the high and low moments of their lives and the values that have come to be important along the way. Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper and plot high moments above the line, low moments below. Only share what you feel comfortable sharing. Modeling the exercise first is important to set the tone for vulnerability, then provide 10-15 minutes for folks to draw their own journey line. Split the team into groups of 4-6, and provide ~7 minutes for each person to share.
A somewhat abbreviated version is here: http://toolbox.hyperisland.com/telling-our-stories
6
Values Discussion
30 mins
Each member of the team chooses 1 value they want the team to uphold and provides a story from their lives to describe why that value is important (e.g., a previous team or life experience). The team then collects the values, discusses themes and how they're currently present or need some work, and revisits them for discussion and evaluation, over time. (more suited for smaller teams)
7
Photo Sharing
30 mins
Select a personal photo that has an important meaning or represents an aspect of your personality that is important to you. You can bring in a physical copy or share a digital version on your phone.
Alternate version: Everyone brings in a baby photo. Tape photos to the wall and number each photo. Each person gets a piece of paper and writes down their guesses for who's who (#1 - Marissa). At the end, reveal the identities then everyone goes around and shares a fun/meaningful/interesting story from their childhood.
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