10 Quick Icebreaker Games for Small Groups

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September 17, 2020

You found our list of quick icebreaker games for small groups.

Icebreaker games are exercises that prompt conversations from participants. Teams play these games to get to know each other in a fun, informal setting.

These icebreakers are a subset of team building games.

Specifically, this list includes:

  • Icebreaker games for work
  • Icebreaker games for employees
  • Icebreaker games for team building
  • Icebreaker games for college students

And more categories too 🙂

So, here is the list of games!

List of icebreaker games for work

When a group does not know each other, it may be difficult for people to start talking. Here is our list of icebreaker games that lets your team have a great time, while also providing shared experiences to facilitate future interactions.

1. Six Word Memoirs

Six Word Memoirs is a stellar icebreaker game for team building guaranteed to spark discussions. To play this game, each member of your team brainstorms six words that summarize their life, and then shares their Six Word Memoir with the group.

Because the activity limits each participant to six words, your colleagues’ choices in words invariably lead to questions about why these particular words stood out. Your team will come together to play this icebreaker game, while also discovering interesting insights about each other.

2. Desert Island Intelligences

One of the most intriguing theories in psychology is Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which proposes that people possess a variety of abilities and talents, known as intelligences. This icebreaker game for college students draws on Gardner’s Theory, and asks your team to vote people off a desert island based on how useful these intelligences would be for survival.

Gardner’s eight intelligences are:

  1. Visual-spatial
  2. Linguistic-verbal
  3. Interpersonal
  4. Intrapersonal
  5. Logical-mathematical
  6. Musical
  7. Body-kinesthetic
  8. Naturalistic

In this game, eight individuals, each representing a different intelligence, are stranded on a desert island. Because the island has a finite amount of resources, your team must decide what order to eliminate the individuals in, in order to ensure survival. The debates stemming from Desert Island Intelligences are wonderful for learning about your coworkers’ priorities and thought processes.

3. Speed Networking

While Speed Networking may seem better suited for large group icebreakers, this activity can also be reworked as an intimate icebreaker activity. This exercise provides a fast and easy way for teams to get to know each other.

To play Speed Networking, using a random team generator, pair your team into groups of two. Then, give each pair icebreaker questions and five minutes to make their way through as many questions as possible. After five minutes are up, switch up the pairs.

Since you are playing with a smaller group, you can cycle through the pairs more than once, so your colleagues can ask even more questions or simply chat about some information that came up in a previous question.

Need help thinking of ways to break the ice? Check out our list of icebreaker questions for some pointers.

4. Hometown Map

Hometown Map is an icebreaker game for work that is easy to set up. To start, pin a large world map to a bare stretch of wall and place a marker, small Post-It notes, and box of push pins nearby. Then, notify your team to use the push pins and Post-Its to mark birth places or hometowns on the map over the next few days.

Hometown Map is a great icebreaker because after everyone is done, you will have a lovely new piece of wall decor that shows important pieces of your employees’ pasts. When your team members walk past the map, the pins may prompt your colleagues to ask each other about experiences growing up in different places.

5. Psychology Masks

Psychology Masks is another icebreaker activity pulled from Psychology 101 that is especially suited for artistically inclined teams. To get started, order blank white masks and paints. Then, ask your team to fill the outside of the masks with images signifying what others think of them, and illustrate the inside with drawings that symbolize their inner selves.

When the masks are complete, display the finished products in the office. Because of the dual nature of the masks, the display is sure to stimulate discussion among your team members and provide a low pressure icebreaker game for employees to share more about themselves,

6. Achievements Under 18

If you are looking for a free-and-easy way to know more about your team’s past exploits, then try a few rounds of Achievements Under 18. To participate in this icebreaker game for employees, ask all your coworkers to name an accomplishment achieved by age 18. These accomplishments can range from academic to personal, and you can play as many rounds as you like.

Achievements Under 18 is a terrific icebreaker game because each round paints a picture of the childhood your team had, and undoubtedly leads to questions about everyone’s personal triumphs. This exercise is a fun way to get to know each other, and breaks up the monotony of a slow workday.

7. Myers-Briggs Session

One of the most prominent personality tests is the Myers-Briggs Test, which matches people with a personality type denoted by four letters that reveals what you are like in relationships, the workplace, and as a parent. Myers-Briggs Session uses this test to initiate discussions that reveal more about your coworkers’ characters.

To begin a Myers-Briggs Session, send the Myers-Briggs test to your team to complete. Then, set a time where everyone gets together to discuss results. A Myers-Briggs Session is a fun activity to get people talking about themselves and how they work best with others.

8. Jenga Questions

Jenga Questions is an icebreaker game for college students and other groups, where your team plays Jenga, while also answering questions. Depending on whether you have a standard or giant Jenga set, either write numbers that correspond with questions or the actual questions on each brick. As each team member withdraws a brick, answer the question associated with it.

Since an element of unpredictability exists with Jenga Questions, this exercise creates a spontaneous, easygoing way for employees to share information about themselves. This impromptu element elevates your team’s Jenga experience to beyond simply balancing blocks.

9. Time Heist

Have you ever considered what you would do if you could travel back in time? Inspired by the events of Avengers: Endgame, Time Heist is a game where your team proposes outlandish schemes they would pull off if they could time travel.

To play, ask your team to write down time travel plans on scraps of paper, and place the scraps in an opaque container. Then, pass the container around and have each member of the team draw a paper and discuss what is written on it. Time Heist not only reveals your team’s creativity, but also provides an amusing way to learn more about each other.

10. I’m a Brand Manager

I’m a Brand Manager is an icebreaker for work that tests your team’s creativity.

Here’s how to play:

  1. Ask your team members to invest in an imaginary new business.
  2. Each group must decide how to market the new brand.
  3. Encourage your coworkers to come up with logos, slogans, and a basic color palette.
  4. Share and vote on the best marketing strategy!

This icebreaker game is a great choice for creative or design teams, but even if your team is not full of designers, I’m a Brand Manager is a great icebreaker because the competition inadvertently reveals what your team members are passionate about, and may unearth previously unknown design skills.

FAQ: Icebreaker games

Still confused over what an icebreaker is? Here are some commonly asked questions about icebreaker games for team building.

What are icebreaker games?

Icebreaker games are activities you play with your team to help facilitate discussion among colleagues. These games are crucial for new teams that do not know each other very well, especially if team members are unaware of potential shared interests.

What are the benefits of doing icebreaker games?

The benefits of doing icebreaker games include:

  • Letting employees get to know each other
  • Unearthing previously unknown skills
  • Providing low pressure situations for colleagues to hang out
  • Promoting communication among team members
  • Learning about your coworkers’ interests and passions
  • Revealing aspects of your team’s pasts or growing up experiences

By participating in icebreaker games, your team experiences a variety of benefits that create stronger bonds, and thus lets coworkers work better together.

What is an easy icebreaker game to start with?

An easy icebreaker game to start with is Hometown Maps because it is a low pressure activity that only requires you to prepare a blank map, Post-Its, and a box of push pins. Choosing Hometown Maps not only gives your office some new wall decor, but it is also an effortless way for coworkers to learn about each others’ pasts.

What makes icebreaker games for small groups work?

Icebreakers for small groups work if you:

  1. Set aside adequate time for everyone to participate
  2. Confirm participants
  3. Prepare materials before the game begins
  4. Run rounds more than once

Because you have a smaller number of players, you can take advantage of this fact by granting each participant more time. Giving more time creates a more intimate atmosphere, and lets team members get to know each other even more.

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Author: Jessica Chen

Team building content expert. Jessica has a double major in English and Asian Studies, and experience working with teams across cultures; including 3+ years in Taiwan.

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