When you have a group of people meeting for the first time, it is natural for participants of the group to feel out-of-place or nervous about how they will come across to others. Ice breakers are intended to help people get to know each other and become more comfortable with each other so they can communicate or work together better. Ice breakers can also be used any time two or more people meet and want to start a conversation or relationship. Discover ice breaker examples for groups of all sizes.
22 Examples of Ice Breakers for Groups Large and Small
7 Ideas for Large Group Ice Breakers
In a group, the purpose of ice breakers is to get everyone working together, talking and sharing. For large groups, it's important to consider time and logistics. The activities below can work well for large business meetings such as conferences or all-employee meetings or other big events, such as college or high school orientation sessions.
Challenge people to complete a scavenger hunt that requires connecting with others.
- Ask people to work on their own or in pairs to find others in the group who meet certain criteria.
- The scavenger hunt can involve things like "Find someone who has an unusual hobby." or "Find the person who has traveled the farthest to be here."
- Use this printable scavenger hunt template to make easy work of creating the activity.
- Give a trinket to everyone who completes the hunt, or put all completed entries into a drawing for a grand prize.
Find Your People
When getting to know new people, it's always good to have common ground to build on. With that in mind, consider having everyone in the group line up according to their birthdays, or have everyone line up alphabetically by first name or last name. Once participants get in order, have them introduce themselves to the people closest to them and share something fun related to the trait used on the game. For example, suggest they share a funny story about their name or their favorite birthday memory.
"People bingo" involves giving out cards with attributes or information in each bingo square. For example, one square might be "has brown eyes" and another might be "is an only child." You may want to use this printable people bingo template.
- Everyone has to mingle and try to find someone who meets a particular attribute.
- They can then put that person's name in the box.
- The idea is to get a bingo by completing a row of five names.
- Have some prizes on hand to award to people as they finish.
The idea behind mural mingle is to provide a way for people to meet each other and interact over common interests.
- Set up large whiteboards or very large sheets of poster board in a common area where people will mingle.
- Assign a theme to each board and encourage participants to visit each board and contribute throughout the event. For a college orientation, for example, the boards could be for things like "home state," "major," "favorite class," "goals," or similar.
- Allocate time during breaks for attendees to visit the boards and add something.
- Have photographers circulating to snap photos of the participants and include them in a slide show at the end of the day.
When people register for the event, ask them to share their favorite animal (or other topic). Include a small image of the animal each person listed on their name badge, being sure to include a symbol for those who didn't answer or who said "none" so that everyone is included. Use the animal images to assign people to network at different points in the day. For example, consider having everyone break into groups by favorite animal at the beginning of a session and give them a few minutes to share animal stories.
Trivia games can be a great ice breaker option that can be terrific for a large group if you use an app, such as the Kahoot! platform, that allows individual members to enter their answers via a smartphone, with the group's results projected out for all to see and share. This will work for large groups that are all together, as well as in a virtual setting regardless of group size. Just set up a game, enter some trivia questions appropriate for the group and let everyone know how to login.
For large in-person gatherings, consider an art activity.
- Drape a large paper tablecloth or similar paper over each table where participants are seated and place markers, crayons or drawing pencils on each table.
- Assign the group to work together to create an illustration of a concept, such as their expectations for the event. If the attendees are coworkers, consider asking them to illustrate the company mission.
- The only rule is that they have to use pictures rather than words.
- Have the contributors sign their artwork.
- Post the finished products on the wall and have participants vote on the best or most creative illustration. You may even want to have several categories, with prizes for the winners.
7 Ice Breaker Examples for Small Groups
When groups are relatively small (under 20 people or so), ice breakers can be more individualized. The activities below are great for new project teams, youth groups and other relatively small gatherings. They can also work with larger groups that have been separated into small groups.
3 Fun Facts
Ask everyone in the group to go around in a circle and say their names and where they are from. Encourage everyone to give a general introduction, as well as three interesting facts about themselves they would like the group to know.
3 Truths and a Lie
For a bit of a twist to the ice breaker above, instead of having people share three interesting facts about themselves, instruct them to share three true facts and one that is made up. Then, when they introduce themselves, the rest of the group can vote on which of the four tidbits the person shares is the untruth. This is a lot of fun in person, but it's also a good virtual icebreaker that can be conducted via a collaboration tool or email.
Rather than having people introduce themselves, assign each person to an interviewing partner.
- Allow a set amount of time for one partner to interview the other, then have them switch places.
- When time is up, each person will introduce the person he or she interviewed to the group.
- If your group is meeting virtually, have the partners connect before the meeting for the interviews, then introduce each other during the live session.
Geography Word Game
Consider playing a fun geography word game to get people talking and interacting.
- Start by having someone name a location.
- The next person must name a location that starts with the last letter of the previous spot. For example, if the first person said "Spain," then the next person would need to name a location that started with the letter "n" and so on.
- If someone contributes a word that isn't a geographic location or doesn't start with the correct letter, then that person is out.
- Award prizes to the last few players in the game.
Linking Word Game
Somewhat similar to the geography word game, the linking word game involves coming up with creative ways to link related words to each other.
- The first person would say something like "green," and the next person would have to come up with a related word like "grass" or "apple."
- If the second person said "apple," then the next person would need to come up with something related to that word, such as "pie," "juice" or "tree."
- If someone comes up with an unrelated word, that means they're out.
Have prizes on hand for the last few remaining players. This is a great activity for kids, though grown-ups are also likely to enjoy it.
A group storytelling session can be a terrific ice breaker for a relatively small group. This involves having everyone create a story together, one line at a time.
- Start with a theme and have someone volunteer to go first by coming up with a sentence related to the theme.
- That sentence will become the first line of the story.
- Everyone else will contribute sentences as well. After the first person, go around the room in order or draw names.
- Each person has to add a line to the story that builds off of what the person before said.
- Depending on time and group size, you can do one round or more than one.
- Someone should record the sentences so the story can be read aloud at the end.
Charades is a fun spoken word game that can be a really fun ice breaker for relatively small groups. It's a great way for people to get a sense of each other's personality and decision-making style in an entertaining and interactive way. Use an interesting charades word list and the group is sure to have a blast!
Ideas for One-on-One Ice Breaker Questions
In some cases, you may want to break the ice when you are having a conversation one-on-one. When looking for ice breakers for these situations, it is best to ask opened-ended questions that give people a chance to share something about themselves. Everyone appreciates people who are good listeners and who want to listen to what they have to say.
- Ask your companion who they would have dinner with if they could have dinner with anyone in the world.
- Ask what books your conversation partner would take with him to a desert island.
- Ask your companion to name their hero or role model.
- Ask the person you are trying to start a conversation with if he or she has children or pets. People usually love to talk about their kids or their pets!
- Ask your companion where they are from originally and what their favorite thing was about their hometown.
- Ask your conversation partner where they would travel if they could go anywhere in the world.
- Ask where your conversation partner's favorite place is that he or she has already visited.
- Ask what type of animal your companion would be and why.
Breaking the Ice to Build Relationships
Kicking off a group or team event with a successful icebreaker is a great way to start building relationships. Even people who already know each other can get to know each other better and in a different way by participating in activities like the ones listed here. For more ideas, consider incorporating some interpersonal communication quotes into the event you're planning.