When Creating Icebreakers, Keep the Following in Mind:

  • targeting

    Have a Clear Objective

    What do you want to accomplish with the exercise?

  • keep-it-simple

    Keep it Simple

    The exercise needs to be easy to explain, understand and do.

  • timing

    Timing is Key

    Schedule the icebreaker when it will have a positive effect on your meeting.

  • practice


    Work with the concept until you are confident in your ability to employ it.

  • grid

    Reinforce Meeting/Project Goals

    Design or choose the icebreaker to make a point that relates to some aspect of the meeting/project.

  • props-dice

    Consider Using Props

    Sometimes objects inspire the most creative exercises.

Conducting a Successful Icebreaker


Select an activity that is a good fit for your team.

  • Prepare your team-building activity.
    • Give a detailed explanation about how the activity will work.
    • Ask team members if clarification is needed.


Explain the activity to the team.

  • Check again for understanding if team members seem to be having trouble.
  • Run the activity.
    • If possible, be the first volunteer to demonstrate the icebreaker.
    • If the larger team divides into small groups, try to visit all of them during the activity.
  • Debrief the activity.
    • Try to get all team members to give feedback, but don’t demand feedback.


Reinforce the learning.

  • When possible, connect icebreakers to the team project.


  • Miller, B. (2015). Quick team-building activities for busy managers: 50 exercises that get results in just 15 minutes. Amacom.
  • Depping, A.E., Mandryk, R.L., Johanson, C., Bowey, J.T., and Thomson, S.C. (2016, Oct. 16-19). Trust me: social games are better than social icebreakers. Austin, TX, USA.
  • Pearce, E., Launay, J., and Dunbar, R.I. (2015). The ice-breaker effect: singing mediates fast social bonding. Royal Society Open Science, 2(10), 150221.

From the Penn State Team Science Website: