Four Icebreakers To Start Off Your Team Building Activities

Published: 16th July 2009
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Good teams are based on trust, and trust comes from familiarity. That's why team development programs start with an icebreaker: an exercise that helps team members get to know each other. Icebreakers go beyond formal office relationships because team members need to be able to adapt to dynamic situations, including those where normal business protocols might change. In Toronto, the Xpeerience Group specializes in experiential team building, which applies positive group dynamics to challenging, unusual and fun situations. Icebreakers are part of the core process, so its experts recommend them for most team building processes. They've found success with the following five icebreakers.

Warm Ups and Stretches: Physical warm ups are popular at the Xpeerience Group and necessary too, as many of the company's team building games include sports and physical challenges. Start warm ups up slowly and don't make them too difficult; you shouldn't create any situation that makes people self-conscious about differing physical abilities. Slow activities like Yoga and Tai Chi work, but even simple stretches will do. Make sure to take special physical needs into account. In most cases you should avoid fast counts for exercises. Many adults haven't exercised in a group since grade school, so pushing for a regimented standard may provoke embarrassment.

Speed Mixers: Use the format for speed dating to energize the group and get people to know each other. For example, divide the group into pairs and give each participant two or three minutes to learn about his or her partner. Provide some guidance with a list of suggestions, including name, position, hobbies, favorite music, TV or films, and so on. Don't go into religion or politics. This is a great way for team members to discover common interests and life situations, speaking informal conversation outside of the team development program.

Role Playing: In this simple exercise, pick a scenario and go around the room, asking for names and answers. Limit responses to under a minute. IN a small group, go through several rounds of related scenarios. For example, if you ask, "If you were a superhero, what would your powers be?" make your next question, "What would be your superhero name?" and the one after that "Who would be your super-villain arch-enemy?" and so on. Role playing sparks the imagination and helps participants get over inhibitions about sharing their ideas in a group. Those are both issues you want team building exercises to solve, so this is a great way to get the ball rolling.

Arts and Crafts: Break down a large crafts project into the smallest possible pieces of work. For example, you may ask teams to create parts of a large collage. Each part only takes a few minutes, but they collectively create something much bigger - and that's the ideal of successful teamwork. Make sure this is a fairly structured activity that works with simple directions, as some people become paralyzed at the idea of doing this kind of work without comprehensive instructions. As a variation, you might switch pairs of people at variation stations for each task, or add a puzzle. What do all the pieces make?

The Xpeerience Group is a corporate team building activities specialist and team development group located in Toronto, Ontario. To inquire about Xpeerience Group services, visit - contactus or email

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