If you are starting a workshop, or any other setting where people should productively work together or learn something over a period of time, didactics tells us to activate the participants to get their minds set to the new learning or productive environment. If the participants have never worked together before, that’s where icebreaker games come in.
These short games allow the participants to get to know each other – at least basically – and at the same time provide a cognitive stimulus that prepares the mind for the upcoming challenges. To make it easier for you as a host, we’ve provided you with a collection of the icebreaker games we use in our workshops and that we’ve had good experiences with.
We’ve split up the icebreaker ideas into three categories: the ones that work both for online and offline workshops, the ones that only work offline and the ones that only work online.
Also, if you happen to work with a group that have worked together before but you still want to activate the minds of your participants, check out our Ideas for Activation Games & Team Building!
Icebreaker Games Online & Offline
Two truths one lie
This absolute classic of an icebreaker game compels the participants to tell three facts about them along with their names, i.e. “I’m Lauren, I’m from Baltimore, I like Spaghetti and I’ve flown to the moon.” The remaining participants then have to guess which of the facts is a lie and call the spreaker out on that. You can formalize it by asking participants to write down their three statements/facts and then use sticky dots to have the other participants vote in the first coffee break. Or, if you’re in an online setting, use a virtual whiteboard like miro.com to get the votes in.
Also well established as a starter activity for any workshop or meeting, you can ask the participants to map out on a physical map where they currently live or where they came from before the workshop this morning when presenting themselves. For this you need a map of the area or country you are in (and that you expect at least most of the participants to be from) and some sticky dots. For any online workshop, you can also use a virtual whiteboard with the digital version of the map pasted on there. The participants then use virtual sticky dots to mark up the spots.
Shared and Unique Qualities
For this icebreaker, you can use our teamshufflr-app to create cards that divide the participants into groups of four to five people. Within these groups, the participants need to find out 2 characteristics they all have in common and one characteristic that is unique to each group member. This is great to get to know each other, as you find out what unifies you and your peers, but also what sets you apart from the others. If you’re in a digital setting, use our teamshufflr web app to divide the participants into the respective teams and then use breakout room within your communication software for the group interaction.
Offline Setting preferred
Find your pair
You can use our teamshufflr-app to prepare teamshufflr cards that only give out pairs of two, i.e. groups of two people. Each participant gets one card and then needs to go around to find their pair. Once they find each other, they need to learn 3 interesting things about the other by asking continuous questions. In the following presentation round, the respective partner needs to present their pair by telling everyone their name and the three interesting things they learned about the other person. This icebreaker game works best in an offline setting, as the logistics for individual breakout rooms are quite time consuming.
Online Setting preferred
What shoes are you wearing?
In an online setting, you can ask your participants to show what shoes or socks they are wearing for this workshop along with their names. This usually works out well in most professional setups, when you asked all your participants to turn on the camera before the workshop. There can be some embarrassing moments for people who did not expect this movement of camera and then you can just ask them to describe what they are wearing.
Something close to you.
Another variation of the icebreaker game above is for participants to, along with presenting themselves, show the rest of the group something close to them. In the literal and metaphorical sense. So they should pick up an item on their desk and tell the group, why this item is important to them personally and how it helps. This can be coffee mugs (to get the energy needed for productive work), water bottles (to stay hydrated) or a picture of their loved ones (for obvious reasons). A tip from actual workshops here: Ask everyone at the ent of the icebreaker game to show their item in the camera and have one of the organizers/hosts take a screenshot of this in your communications tool. This makes for a cool reminder at the end to wrap up the workshop.
For more ideas and also really good resources regarding workshop facilitation check out sessionlab.com