Breaking the ice at a team building event? Not a problem anymore!

There aren’t many events which don’t benefit enormously from team building icebreakers. These exercises thaw that initial frostiness, and get strangers (and even people who know each other reasonably well) to let their guards down, open up to new experiences, and stop being self-conscious and withdrawn for the duration of the session.

Some people are shy, others get anxious in group situations, and others yet just require a little push in order to open up and let their skills and leadership abilities shine.

successful team-building activity

When teams of colleagues get together, they’re accustomed to working and communicating with each other in a strictly professional environment. As such, knowing how to break the ice is vital, because at team building sessions and other get-togethers, all the rules are off!

Let’s take a look through why these quick exercises are so important, and pick out some of our favourites you can easily implement at your next event.

5 Team Building Icebreakers You Need to Know

Icebreakers are often at their best when they’re relatively quick and simple, and prompt the gathered crowd to start opening up about themselves as people, and not just as employees. They generally don’t require any props or much preparation, and they’re perfect for overcoming the awkwardness that hangs heavily over a room at the start of a session.

Story Sessions

Some of the best icebreakers are the ones which are a bit leftfield, and require participants to use their imagination and presentations skills. This team building icebreaker combines these two key points, and has been championed by Danish team building expert, Martijn Timmermans.

  • How it works

The participants are split into groups of five people, and given some paper and pens. They have ten minutes to jot down some details regarding the most innovative event they have ever organised, the greatest professional achievement they’ve undertaken, or something similar. Then, they have to find a way of weaving that into a story to share with the other members of their group.

Once everybody has told each other their story, they have a chance to select one story to be told to the other groups, and answer questions on the information they’ve just shared.

  • Why it works

This is a great way to initially break the ice between a small group of people (the team of 5) and then to the room as a whole. What’s more, the stories require some imagination, some celebration of personal achievements, and the chance to inspire the other members of the team.

Human Bingo

Who doesn’t love a good game of Bingo? This team building icebreaker is as fun as it is effective, and requires some proper mingling and open conversation.

  • How it works

You’ll need to prepare some Bingo cards in advance for this - simple, 5x5 matrices filled with a mixture of personal or professional statements you can use in the game. Examples could include questions like ‘Have you visited more than 12 countries?’, ‘Have you ever fallen asleep on the job?’ ‘Have you ever had an unusual pet?’... etc etc.

The team will then have to mingle with the crowd, and interview each other to ‘tick off’ every box with the name and extra information of the person they find who can answer the questions.

  • Why it works

This icebreaker gets everyone on their feet and moving around your space. What’s more, it’s fun, familiar, and can yield some surprising answers!

People Bingo Cards


People Bingo Cards 2

Three Shining Moments

It’s really important to kick off your sessions with plenty of positivity in the room. This team building icebreaker is the perfect example, and one sure to elicit plenty of smiles.

  • How it works

This is one of the simplest icebreakers there is, and you won’t need anything more than a few notepads and pens to make it work. All you have to do is ask your participants to note down their three greatest achievements - either professionally, personally, or a combination of the two - and after a few minutes, to stand up, introduce themselves, and share those achievements with the group.

  • Why it works

This icebreaker is based on the power of positive energy, and works by treating your participants as individuals, with their own experiences and stories to tell. It’s simple, quick, and massively effective… as you’ll discover for yourself if you use it.

The ‘Snowball’ Fight

Sometimes, a bit of chaos is important if you’re looking for a new way to break the ice at a corporate event. This exercise might not be for everybody - it tends to work best with younger, more dynamic teams - but when it works… it really works!

  • How it works

The session leader will hand out a few sheets of paper, establish something in the room as a target (a whiteboard is usually used), turn the music up to eleven, and then crumble up their paper to use as a snowball. Within seconds, everybody else will follow suit, and you have an instant, grin-inducing snowball party which immediate gets everyone out of their shells and having fun!

  • Why it works

This exercise was originally used by the pioneering Eric de Groot, who used to kick off his TEDX sessions in this way. Eric’s concept was to show just how quickly the energy in a room can be transformed, and how fast people’s behaviour can change when the normal rules are broken down.

Use Unexpected Questions

Laughter is the best icebreaker there is, and with a handful of funny questions in a hat, it can quickly erupt around a room and cause people to open up and start having fun.

  • How it works

Write down dozens of funny or strange questions - think things like ‘who would be your top three dinner party guests?’ or even more bizarre ones, such as ‘if you were a vegetable, which would you be and why?’. Invite your participants to choose a question at random, and answer it in front of everybody as they sit in a circle.

  • Why it works

This team building icebreaker works due to the simple fact that it slightly - but not dramatically - takes people out of their comfort zone, and gets them to reveal a little of their personalities to the group. Once you know that somebody considers themselves to be a cauliflower, it’s difficult to be intimidated by them for the rest of the day!

Icebreakers: The Perfect Way to Start a Session

There’s no doubt that knowing how to break the ice at corporate events or team building sessions can make a massive difference. It transforms the energy in the room, helps people open up, and creates more cohesion from the very beginning.

If you haven’t experimented with icebreakers before, what are you waiting for?

Here at Mask, we’re always seeking out new and exciting ways to take events of all sorts to new heights, and take pride in being a top-notch provider in the events industry. If you want to learn more about icebreakers or anything else connected to events, we invite you to get in touch soon - we’d love to hear from you!