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Work Icebreakers: 20 Corporate Ice Breaking Ideas

February 19, 2019

Icebreakers are perfect for stimulating growth and cooperation in a team or group. Whether you’re hosting a conference or forming a new department in your business, icebreakers present a great way to create a comfortable atmosphere that brings participants together.

Almost everyone has been in that awkward situation where you don’t know anyone in the room particularly well. Many people are tempted to resort to being quiet and conservative when presented with a scenario or situation where they aren’t entirely comfortable and, as an employer or manager, this is what you want to avoid. If attendees are shy or anxious, the chances are that their attention will be drawn away from the core objectives! Use icebreakers to remove this tension and you’ll have a much more cohesive unit that can address the problems they face as a group. It’s a win-win situation!

To help you find a great icebreaker for your team, here is a list of great corporate ice breaking ideas that can be adapted to almost any situation.

1.    Characteristics Bingo

Simple, easy and effective, characteristics bingo is all about encouraging participants to loosen up and discover something new about one other. Before the start of the event, create a bingo sheet filled with interesting traits or characteristics of the people attending. Upon arrival, hand out the sheets to those taking part and encourage them to mingle and ask each other questions to discover which characteristics apply to which people. The first to complete a line on the bingo sheet wins!

2.    Desert Island Items

This is a classic corporate icebreaker. Participants must go around in a circle explaining what book, music album and luxury item they would bring if they were forced to stay on a desert island for a period of time. The key to this activity’s success is ensuring that people explain their choices, highlighting something about their hobbies or personality in the process.

3.    Secret Ballot

Everyone attending writes a secret onto a piece of paper and places it in the ballot box. Then the participants take it in turns to pick a secret out of the box and guess who it might belong to. This is perfect for helping a team bond and get to know each other better.

4.    Name Yourself

Everyone attending selects a word to describe themselves and explains to the group why they chose that specific word. From that point, each individual should be referred to by their personal descriptor instead of their actual name. If you’re looking for a more corporate feel, then you could just use the descriptor names for the duration of the activity before reverting to real names.

5.    Talent and Development

This work icebreaker is perfect for both managers and employees alike because it highlights areas of improvements as well as team talents. Each participant explains one skill to the group that they already excel at as well as one skill that they want to develop further – it’s as simple as that. These talents can be work or non-work related depending on your chosen focus for the icebreaker.

6.    Embarrassing Stories

For a more risky but fun option, sharing embarrassing stories is a brilliant way to help people feel more comfortable in their skin and on equal terms with their colleagues. Make sure to give people a few minutes to think about their stories, otherwise, you might find that some are significantly more embarrassing than others!

7.    Personal Trading Cards

As children, many of us collected trading cards or something similar; in this icebreaker, hand out card-sized sheets of paper and ask participants to create a trading card of themselves. The cards must include the individual’s name, as well as a fun fact and anything else you would like the participants to share with each other. Afterwards, encourage everyone involved to begin trading cards, specifying that they must read every card that they receive before trading it again. At the end of the activity, sit down and have everyone introduce whoever’s card they have ended up with. This is a fun, creative way of handling introductions which can sometimes be awkward.

8.    Pet Peeves

Have each attendee explain their biggest pet peeve to the group. This is particularly useful in new teams and can avoid tension or conflict at a later date. For an extension to the task, you can also encourage people to talk about the personality trait they find most challenging to work with. Whilst you might be concerned about the initial conflict caused by a question like this, it’s much better to address the concerns in a formal situation than allow for bickering or pettiness to creep in later.

9.    Great Achievements

On to a more positive note! Having attendees share their greatest achievements is brilliant for highlighting skills and making people feel more comfortable and confident, which is essential for effective collaboration and cooperation. 

10. Don’t Smile

A fun and silly option; don’t smile is a quick game where the participants are told not to smile at all during the meeting or conference. Proceed to make as many jokes as possible and (even if you’re not funny), the participants will be cracking up in no time. Laughter is an excellent tool for loosening people up and when you’re told you can’t laugh, it becomes even harder not to!

11. Two Truths, One Lie

Another classic work icebreaker; two truths, one lie is a simple game where participants take it in turns to tell two truths and one lie, after which the other attendees must guess which one is the lie. It’s quick, it’s simple and it’s great for revealing some interesting facts about each individual.

12. 20 Questions

An attendee picks out an object, food, place or celebrity and the rest of the group can ask 20 yes or no questions to try and work out what they are thinking about. For extra depth, you can refine what the participants must choose for their objects and request that they select something that carries significance for them.

13. Paper Plane Discovery

Everyone attending writes their name and a question they would like to ask someone else onto a sheet of paper. Then, they fold the piece of paper into a paper plane and throw it across the room. Afterwards, each attendee picks up the paper plane closest to them and must find the person who created it, as well as answer the questions written on it. This is perfect as an unconventional introduction.

14. Continuity and Change

As a more considered corporate icebreaker, ask participants to take it in turns to say one thing that they would change from their past and one thing that they would keep the same. Encourage those taking part to explain their choices.

15. Celebrity Heroes

This is a great one for new teams or departments. Have everyone in the group pick out a celebrity hero and explain their choice to the group. Then, for the rest of the meeting or for a set time period, have everyone refer to each other using their chosen celebrity names instead of their normal names. It’s fun and it will stick in people’s minds.

16. Meeting Room Treasure Hunt

If you have preparation time, creating a small treasure hunt inside your meeting room or work area is a great collaborative team building activity, as well as an icebreaker. Set clues or puzzles for the team to solve together and they will quickly become more comfortable with one another. Add a prize for an extra incentive!

17. Memory Songs

Songs have a habit of sticking in our minds when they’re associated with a specific memory. Ask the participants to take it in turns and talk about a song as well as the memory attached to it. This will highlight an aspect of their past and help everyone get to know each other better.

18. Humbug

A simple game that relies on effective communication and is great fun, humbug involves a single participant humming a song and the rest of the group trying to guess what the song is. Add a time limit and split the group into teams for a more competitive touch that will help to loosen everyone up.

19. My Philosophy

Morality is a very difficult concept because everyone is different, and this icebreaker plays into that. Each person is unique and lives life by different rules – ask participants to share their main philosophies that they try to live by; it can explain a lot about an individual’s personality and motivations.

20. Childhood Cartoon Comparison

This works particularly well if the majority of the team are of a similar age. Ask the participants to introduce themselves and pick a cartoon character that they feel resembles their personality, as well as explaining their choice. This is fun and silly but simultaneously encourages the individual to explain their personality, helping everyone to become more comfortable.

Hopefully, these icebreakers will help you bring your team closer together, turning meetings and corporate events into the most productive environments possible. Of course, icebreakers are only a small part of a team building event, so whether you’re looking for small icebreakers or in-depth team building activities, Team Challenge Company can help you create the perfect event that develops your team’s skills and brings them together. Explore our vast range of team building activities and supercharge your team’s potential.

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