Icebreakers are group facilitation techniques which can help people communicate, learn more about one another, relax and enjoy themselves. They are an excellent way to foster a creative and friendly environment that is ideal for learning or collaboration.
Groups of adults can really benefit from icebreakers, particularly if participants are meeting for the first time. Icebreakers can be used in a wide range of environments including classrooms, conferences, parties and meetings — wherever you want a group of adults to relax and communicate freely.
This article will share a few reasons why icebreakers are so useful and a few of the best icebreaker games for adults.
Why are Icebreakers so Useful for Adults?
Icebreakers can reduce inhibitions or tension in a group
Many adults are fairly inhibited and reserved when they meet new people. They often don’t communicate freely with people they are meeting for the first time and require a “getting-to-know-you” period. Icebreakers can speed up the getting-to-know-you process, encouraging participants to start communicating freely with one another.
Icebreakers can make a group event fun!
Many group icebreakers are focussed on helping participants relax and feel comfortable within the group. This is usually achieved through the use of fun activities that encourage participants to talk to one another. These “fun” icebreakers can be used by group facilitators to introduce people or to simply give the group a break from a tough activity. Fun icebreakers can also be used to start a meeting or conference with a few laughs.
Icebreakers can energize and motivate participants
Using an icebreaker at the start of a meeting is a great way to excite and motivate participants. A fun icebreaker can turn a stale meeting or class into something that participants look forward to. Icebreakers can also be used midway through a meeting or class to energize participants.
Icebreakers can help a group learn more about one another
If you are working with a group of people who have never met each other before, “introductory” ice breakers may be useful. They are activities which encourage participants to learn each other’s names and personal details. It can help create cohesion within a group and familiarity between participants increases user engagement.
Icebreakers can improve the ability of people to learn
Researchers have discovered that adults learn better when they are mentally, physically and emotionally stimulated. This is because they become fully engaged in the activity and the people around them. You can use icebreakers in a classroom or seminar environment to really make sure the participants are learning.
Icebreakers help the facilitator learn more about the group
The facilitator can also gain some useful insight from using icebreakers. In addition to helping you learn the name of participants, you can gain insight into the background, interests and skills of participants.
Icebreakers increase the sense of community within a group
If you are working with a group that is sharing personal details, it helps to foster a sense of community and friendship among participants. This helps people open up and share intimate details. Icebreakers can be very useful in fostering a sense of trust and community within the group.
Icebreakers get everyone involved
An icebreaker can help passive participants contribute more to the group and feel more comfortable about expressing themselves to others.
Icebreakers foster creativity
Many icebreaker activities ask people to be imaginative and creative. Once participants are in this mindset, you can harness it during the class, meeting or seminar that follows.
The Best Icebreaker Games for Adults
This is one of the most popular icebreaker games for adults because it is simple to explain and very effective. It is ideal for use in classrooms, seminars or meetings. It can be used for groups of up to 30 people in size.
If you already know a few things about the participants, create a list of interesting facts about them, like “plays guitar” or “always does the morning crossword”. If you don’t know the participants very well, use more general descriptions that probably apply to multiple people, like “is fanatical about coffee”, “has been on holiday to Europe”.
Now create bingo cards where each number square has one of these descriptions written in it. These sheets are handed to participants who will then talk to each other in an effort to find someone who matches one of the squares. When they do find someone who “is fanatical about coffee”, that person signs their bingo square. The first person to reach 10 signed squares wins.
This is another common icebreaker for adults that is very effective for introducing people to one another. Have participants find a random partner and form a large circle, with one partner standing closer to the center of the room. Each participant will then spend 2-minutes talking to their partner. They will discover each other’s name and something about their background — where they work, what they like to do, why they are attending the class.
After the 2-minutes has expired, the people on the edge of the circle will rotate clockwise and spend two-minutes talking with the next person. The session can continue until the circle has done a complete rotation. By this point, each participant will have met half of the class.
This is a simple and fun icebreaker for adults that encourages them to be creative. Each participant is asked three simple questions:
- What is your name?
- What do you hope to get out of the class
- What could be the craziest thing that could happen if their expectations of the class are met? Encourage participants to think of a crazy and interesting outcome after completing the class!
For example, a student attending a computer class might say “My name is ted, I expect to learn how to program computers and understand computer hardware. If I can learn those skills I will use them to become the next Steve Jobs, marry Charlize Theron and buy the island of Hawaii”.
Two Truths and a Lie
This icebreaker is usually quite popular with adults and can lead to some funny responses. Each participant in the group says three things about themselves — two truthful things and one lie. The other participants can guess which one is the lie and give a reason why thick so. You can elicit some very funny, creative and interesting responses from the group!
Each participant in the group writes a very interesting or unusual fact about themselves on a piece of paper. The group facilitator then reads out the responses and the group guesses which person wrote the interesting fact!
All My Neighbors
This is a simple icebreaker that helps people communicate with one another and learn more about each other. The group is seated in a circle with one person in the center. The person in the center says “I like all my neighbors who…” then mentions some characteristic like “wears glasses” or “has brown eyes”.
Everyone in the circle who matches that characteristic will switch spots with someone else. The person in the center will also try to find an empty spot. The participant who doesn’t find a spot will have to ask the next question! It is a simple, fun and easy icebreaker for adults.
The Toaster Game
This is a useful game for meetings where participants may turn up hungry! It requires the facilitator to bring a toaster and a large assortment of condiments. Insert a piece of bread into the toaster and while it is browning ask everyone in the group to reveal one thing about themselves. The person who is mid-sentence when the toast pops up is challenged to eat a piece. The catch is — the group decides which kinds of condiments they have on their toast! They may decide to have peanut butter, chilli flakes, and mayonnaise! Just make sure the participants aren’t allergic to any whacky condiment combinations you think of.
Toilet Paper Game
The very premise of this game will get the group laughing. The group facilitator passes a roll of toilet paper around the room and asks each member to tear off how much they normally use when going to the toilet. After everyone has their tiles paper, ask them to tell the group one interesting fact about themselves for each piece of toilet paper they have.
Buy a large beachball and write some icebreaker questions on its surface. Things like “What is your favorite place to go on holiday?”, “What is your perfect Sunday morning?”.
Throw the ball to a random participant in the group and ask them to answer the question that their right-hand index finger falls on. You can elicit responses from the entire group and help them learn more about one another.
There are many more icebreakers for adults available! They are a great way to start your group activity or to energize participants. You can modify any of the icebreakers above to suit your specific group and the participants involved. Remember to stay flexible and have fun!