Whether your team is new or you’ve been working together for a while, every team can benefit from some time spent nurturing connections. Ice breakers help warm things up by starting conversations, helping us build trust for deeper collaboration with the people around us.
In this article, we’ll talk about ice breakers for small teams, and provide examples for different scenarios. We’ll also discuss how certain ice breakers can work for both hybrid or remote teams, and help automate running icebreakers regularly. Let’s go!
Why Do Small Groups Need Specific Ice Breakers?
Ice breakers are great for all kinds of groups, but small groups need a little extra care. While large team ice breakers mean that you can break participants up into smaller groups or call on individuals to answer questions, small teams have a little more pressure since any attention is less distributed.
With small groups, you can run multiple rounds of ice breakers, or give participants more time to get to know each other. Smaller meetings also mean that the ice breaker is more intimate, allowing for closer relationships and more in-depth discussions. Certain ice breakers are better suited to small teams, too!
Types of Ice Breakers for Small Teams
In a nutshell, ice breaker questions are just that: asking your team a question, then gathering responses from the group. But the best ice breaker questions for small teams are those that invite further discussion.
Advantages of ice breaker questions for small teams:
- Requires zero planning
- Can easily automate (more on that later)
- Often leads to participants sharing more about themselves
Ice breaker games introduce the chance to collaborate in teams, so there are more chances for active participants interaction. Once teams are divided into two or more smaller groups, they’ll match wits to score points against each other. All in good fun, of course!
Advantages of ice breaker games for small teams:
- Requires less active facilitation once participants get into the groove
- Encourages collaboration to win
- Lets participants get to know their strengths and weaknesses better
Ice breaker quizzes combine questions and games by testing participants on a particular topic. You can sweeten the deal by adding an incentive for doing well, such as a gift card.
Advantages of ice breaker quizzes for small teams:
- Requires little planning
- Can be automated
- Encourages healthy competition and collaboration if done in groups
Ice breaker group activities usually involve common interests like movies, food, sports, games, or other projects. Doing something together lets participants interact and mingle in a low stakes setting, which might be better for certain teams.
Advantages of ice breaker activities for small teams:
- Relatively hands-off in terms of facilitation
- Encourages more bonding related to the group experience
- Lets participants spend time together doing an activity
Ice Breaker Questions for Small Teams
To start off, here are some ice breaker questions for small teams. We love that these open-ended questions invite further discussion and sharing, letting you and your team forge closer bonds.
- What’s your favorite holiday, and why?
- Do you have a favorite book, show, or movie?
- Do you know how to make your favorite food?
- What are your three favorite things?
- What’s one good thing that happened to you recently?
- What’s a fun thing to do outside of work?
- If you could be anything else besides a human, what would you be and why?
- Would you rather [x] or [y]?
- What is a hobby or activity that you’re currently enjoying or would like to enjoy?
- What’s your favorite drink?
- What’s the craziest thing that ever happened to you?
- Tell us about something that always picks you up or makes you happy.
- You’ve won the lottery. What will you do next?
- What’s the first thing on your bucket list?
- What’s the one thing you would definitely do if you had the chance to?
- Have you ever traveled overseas?
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- What’s your biggest dream?
- What’s your favorite song?
- What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Ice Breaker Games
Try out these ice breaker game suggestions to liven up your next team get-together!
This is more of a team-building activity, but If you have an in-person ice breaker group and some time on your hands, you can get them to build a structure with the materials provided. This can be anything from building blocks, Lego, office stationery, and even dry food.
The goal is to work together to build something that matches criteria like the tallest structure, looks like an owl, or anything else you can come up with.
An oldie but a goodie, BINGO has a familiar format that you can easily adapt into an ice breaker game. Sub out the numbers for common experiences and traits like “wears glasses”, “does yoga”, and “got stung by a bee once”, and you’re good to go.
Short on time for setting up? Try an adaptable memory game where participants sit in a circle and list words that fit into a category like colors, stationery, or animals. The first person says a word related to the category, then the next person says the first player’s word and adds a word of their own.
Each player says their own word and the words of the people before them during their turn. Once everyone in the circle has done so, the game is over!
Ice Breaker Quizzes
Quizzes are great because they’re versatile – they’re a little more structured than ice breaker questions, but the question-and-answer format is about the same, just with more questions involved.
This can go two ways: the first type of ice breaker quiz is when the group does a quiz together, discussing the quiz results afterward. For example, your team takes a personality quiz, then everyone shares their results. This starts a conversation about how different personality types can best work together.
Here are a few common personality quizzes to help you figure out how you tick:
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
- DISC Personality Test
- Big Five Personality Test
The second type of ice breaker quiz is a little less personal and much more game-like, where the group (all together or separated) does a quiz together with the intention of getting the questions right. Trivia games are great for some competitive fun, and they’re easy to do while also getting everyone excited.
Lastly, if you have some time on your hands, you can create custom quizzes based on your company history, product features, or past experiences of your teammates.
Ice Breaker Activities
Ice breaker activities can be as simple as a pizza party, or as involved as an adventurous rock climbing group shindig. It really depends on the people who make up your team – the key here is to start small to keep it inclusive, so you can branch out to bigger activities later. It’s not fun if someone’s being left out.
Show-and-tell activities are a great low-stakes option for getting to know your colleagues better, even if the team is working remotely or hybrid. Have an “Introduce Your Pet” session – everyone loves seeing furry friends!
Are pets not your thing? Try sharing about talents or skills that you have, or take it a step further by getting someone to teach the team how to do their favorite hobby. If everyone’s located nearby, attending a group activity like a painting class or a board game session is also great for fostering connections.
How to Automate Running Ice Breakers For Small Teams
Let’s be honest, sometimes we just have too much on our plate. Running ice breakers may be necessary for building better connections in teams, but they can be tricky to set up during a busy workday.
Not only that, but some ice breakers are better done in person, while other ice breakers can be used to connect hybrid and remote teams. Not all ice breakers have to be done synchronously either. The type of ice breaker you choose relies on what kind of team you have, whether they already know each other, and what they need.
Automation can help with running ice breakers by taking away the friction of facilitation — some ice breaker apps integrate directly into Slack and MS Teams, so you can tinker around in the background using a dashboard before unveiling the ice breaker to the group.
We like that ice breakers for small teams can be cozy, even when done online and asynchronously. Slack-based and Teams-based ice breakers are handy for keeping it warm and intimate since teams can see each others’ responses to ice breaker questions, react to them, and continue the conversation in dedicated ice breaker channels.
Here’s how you can run regular icebreaker sessions on autopilot:
- Add Geekbot to Slack or Microsoft Teams.
- Select the pizza toppings ice breaker template as an example and customize it.
- Integrate Geekbot’s retrospective template into your Slack workspace, then change the title of the template to anything you want.
- Next, select the participants, schedule the activity, and write an introduction to the exercise if you’d like.
- Pick your ice breaker question and put it in the plain text question field. You can add as many as you want, but we went with “What’s your favorite drink?”.
- Customize the outro and select the channel for broadcasting answers – this is important since it’s an ice breaker exercise that requires team interaction.
- Once you hit publish, Geekbot sends your question to participating team members.
- Answers are recorded and published in your selected channel, and the rest of the team can react and comment on the answers whenever they like.
As your team embarks on its journey towards strengthened collaboration and camaraderie, remember that the simple act of starting a conversation can be the spark that ignites lasting bonds.
So, go ahead and infuse these icebreakers into your team’s journey. You’ll witness firsthand how they can turn a collection of individuals into a close-knit community, where each person’s unique story adds to the tapestry of your shared experience.
Frequently asked questions
Why are icebreakers important for small teams?
Icebreakers serve as bridges that break down initial barriers, enabling team members to engage more authentically. They create an environment of trust and empathy, fostering deeper connections that enhance collaboration and communication.
How can these icebreakers impact team dynamics both virtually and in-person?
Icebreakers transcend the medium of interaction. In virtual spaces, they combat isolation by humanizing digital exchanges, while in-person, they enhance team cohesion by fostering genuine conversations that lead to better understanding and teamwork.
What long-term benefits can small teams expect from integrating icebreakers into their activities?
Integrating these icebreakers can lead to a team culture built on respect and camaraderie. Over time, team members will feel more comfortable sharing ideas and collaborating openly, leading to increased productivity, innovation, and a sense of belonging within the team.