If you’ve got a group of people who don’t know each other well (or at all!), it can be a challenge to get them talking to each other. That’s where icebreaker games come in! Whether for a group interview, work meeting or even a party, icebreaker games are a fun way to get people familiar.
There are so many games out there, it can be hard to know where to start! That’s why I’ve made this list of my thirty favourite icebreaker games. Most can be played with large or small groups, and require very little setting up. A few need a bit more preparation, but they’re worth it!
Name games are a quick and fun way to get to know the names of everyone in the group. They can be played with large or small groups, and are very adaptable.
Everyone sits or stands in a circle, taking turns to throw a ball/bean bag/soft toy to each other. As they throw they say their name. Once everyone has said their name, for the second round say the name of the person catching the ball. You can combine Name Pass with the next three games for added excitement!
In a circle, start with one person saying their name. The next person to the left says their name, as well as the name of the person before them. The third person says their name as well as the first two, and so on. Keep going around the circle, letting participants help each other if they need to.
Participants stand in a circle with one person in the middle. Give everyone a couple of minute to learn the first and last names of the people to each side. The person in the middle points to someone in the circle, saying ‘right neighbour’ or ‘left neighbour’. Then that person has to say the full name of the correct neighbour or switch places with the person in the middle. Keep going until everyone has had a go.
If you want to go a little further and help a group get to know each other better, these games are the perfect way to do it. You’re bound to learn some surprising things along the way!
You can use this game in so many situations! The concept is simple: give participants a minute or so to think of one word to describe their thoughts/feelings about a topic of your choosing. Each participant then briefly explains their word choice to the rest of the group.
Participants take turns to tell the group three interesting ‘facts’ about themselves. Two of these should be true and one should be a lie. The rest of the group has to decide which is the lie, and why.
This fun game can be played with a standard sized Jenga set but is even better with a giant one! Set a question for each block (either numbering the blocks or sticking the questions on giant blocks). Either individually or in teams, each participant takes turns to remove a block and answer the question.
I Would Rather
Everyone sits in a circle. One person starts by telling the group one thing that they like to do – ‘I like to eat pizza.’ The person to the left repeats what was said and adds their own preference – ‘Beryl likes to eat pizza, I would rather read a book.’ The next person does the same, repeating the things said by the previous people and adding their part. Continue round the whole circle, helping each other if necessary.
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You did it!
Participants each write something interesting about themselves on a piece of paper, fold it up and put it in a bag with the rest. Jumble them up, then have everyone pick out a piece, read it out and attempt to decide who wrote it, giving their reasons.
Achievements Under 18
A super simple icebreaker! Each member of the group shares something that they are proud that they did before the age of 18.
If you want to get a large group acquainted quickly and meaningfully, mingling games are ideal! They’re a lot of fun, get people moving and talking to each other on a deeper level.
Give participants a list of all the names of the people in the group. Now they have to find one thing they have in common for each person and write it down – and they have to be different things!
Before the session, get everyone to give you an interesting fact about themselves. During the session, give each participant a list of the facts with the names removed and a space to fill them in. Participants have to mingle and find the right person for the right fact, first person to find all the names wins!
I’ve Done That!
List twenty or so ‘have you ever?’ questions and give everyone a copy, with space for names. Participants have to mingle and find one person for each of the things on the list. First-person to find a different person for every question wins!
The ultimate mingling game! Just like speed dating, speed networking is a simple way to meet a lot of people quickly. Arrange the group into initial pairs, and set a timer for two minutes. Participants have two minutes to talk to each other about anything, then when the time is up one from each pair moves along to the next person until everyone has spoken to one another.
Perfect for online sessions, these games are great for ‘real life’ too!
My Name Is…
One of the simplest name games! The participants choose a word to describe themselves like Showy Sean or Blinding Beatrice, then take turns introducing themselves and explaining why they chose that word.
The Name Game
Ask participants to think of an interesting fact to match the first letter of their first name, for example ‘I’m Angus and I love archery’. The group takes it in turns to share their name and interesting fact. If you have a lot of time or a small group, you can get them to think of a fact for each letter in their first name.
Choose a theme for each session, like ‘chocolate bars’ or ‘animated films’, at the start of the session give the theme and encourage everyone to share their favourite example of the chosen theme.
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Share a Fun Photo
Before the meeting, ask each participant to share a funny photo of themselves (in a group chat or in the meeting room) then briefly explain it to the group at the start of the meeting.
Desert Island Decisions
Decide on three categories, like ‘books’, ‘films’, ‘luxuries’ etc, then get participants to pick the three things they would want if stranded on a desert island. Try not to get too bogged down in island practicalities!
Show and Tell
An old school classic that works in any setting! Participants present an item that means something to them, and explain its significance. You can pick a topic or give people free reign. It’s a lovely way to get to know people better!
A fun game for when you have a bit of spare time during a session. One player thinks of a famous person (set a theme if you like, such as ‘musicians’) and tells the first letter of their name (stage name, not the real name, if they’re different) to the rest of the group, then the other players ask questions to try to work out who the famous person is. You can limit the number of questions to twenty or even ten to make the game more challenging.
Creative and Physical Games
Moving around and getting creative is the perfect way to break the ice and energise a situation. These games might not be suitable for very large groups, and some could get messy!
Before the session, write simple descriptions of situations (‘riding a horse’, ‘winning a race’ etc) on pieces of paper, fold them up and put them in a bag. Participants take turns picking a situation out of the bag and silently acting it out, the others have to work out what the situation is. When they do, they get a point.
80’s classic Pictionary is similar to Simple Charades, but with single words instead of situations and drawing instead of acting. Participants pick a word from the bag then draw it as the rest of the group tries to work out what it is.
Give everyone a sheet of paper and get them to write something interesting about themselves on it, then make a paper aeroplane and throw it somewhere in the room. Each person retrieves the plane closest to them (not their own!) and reads it out, guessing who’s plane it is.
Hand out marker pens and pieces of paper or blank paper flags and get everyone to design their own personal flag, then present their flags to the rest of the group. To make it a team-building exercise, use blank paper bunting so everyone’s working on the same thing.
If you want to get really deep, have the group make symbolic masks! Hand out a blank paper mask and markers/paints to everyone. Participants have to design the masks so they reflect their personalities – a design to represent how they present themselves to the world on the outside of the mask and a design to represent how they see themselves on the inside of the mask. They then take it in turns to explain their masks to the rest of the group.
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If you want to see how people work as a team, try a collaborative game! These games are also a great way to do some team building, or to just have some fun together.
One Word at a Time
Seat the group in a circle and give them a theme (be imaginative!). One person starts by saying a single word. Then the next person says a word and the next, and so on, each person saying just one word. The words need to make sense next to each other, although the sentence that emerges can be nonsense!
Like One Word at a Time but with sentences instead of single words. Sit in a circle, give a topic (or don’t!) and have one person start with a sentence. The next person adds their sentence and so on.
Split the group into teams of three or four and make one person the ‘boss’. Give the teams five to ten minutes to think of a business idea, then they pitch the idea to the ‘boss’ who picks a winner based on the best pitch.
For a small group (4-8), this is great fun! Have participants stand in two rows facing each other, with their hands upturned and index fingers out. Place a long, evenly weighted stick such as a mop handle onto the index fingers of the group, make sure the the stick is horizontal and resting evenly on everyone’s index fingers. Tell the group that they have to lower the stick to the ground without anyone losing contact with it at any time. No holding onto the stick!
The Marshmallow Challenge
A fiendish favourite! Split the group into teams of three or four and give each team a handful of dry spaghetti (full pieces, at least twenty) and a bag of marshmallows. Each team must build the tallest freestanding structure they can – the tallest one still standing at the end of the game is the winner!
Bonus Game! – Ha Ha!
This is a really fun game that is great for the middle or at the end of a session. Sitting in a circle, one person says ‘Ha.’ Then the second person says ‘Ha.’, then the third. Go round the circle saying ‘Ha.’ When anyone laughs start from the beginning. It won’t be long before everyone’s giggling!
I hope I’ve given you some inspiration for your next icebreaking session! Share your favourite icebreaker games in the comments.
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