12 engaging ice breaker ideas for small groups

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
August 3, 2022
A group of people laughing together in an office while looking at a computer

When meeting with only a few of your teammates, you’ll likely have more time to get to know one another. We know that building connection in the workplace is key to unlocking better collaboration, so take advantage of these smaller meetings to foster a sense of community. We also know that ice breakers not only facilitate group bonding, but also have a measurable impact on creativity and productivity. 

For groups of 5-10 people, set aside 10 minutes at the beginning of your meeting just to do something fun and engaging, and then reap the benefits of stronger relationships as you work to solve tough problems and drive better business outcomes.

What is an ice breaker?

There are many variations, but generally speaking, ice breakers can be broken down into three categories: questions, activities, and games. 

Ice breaker questions

An ice breaker exercise can be as simple as posing a question to your team, and then going around the group to gather responses. One way to mix up the process can be to use the 'popcorn' approach, where the last person to answer the question selects the next teammate to answer. 

The ‘popcorn’ approach is a double-edged sword, however — it makes the meeting more democratic, with each team member selecting their successor, but it can also make people feel awkward if they are unfamiliar with one another. For new teams, we recommend having a facilitator handle the ice breaker discussion.

Related: 100 ice breaker questions to get the conversation started

Ice breaker activities

Group activities can take the form of sharing favorites (like movies, dishes, sports, etc.), or working together on a project. The outcomes of these activities can often form the basis of later team building, like creating a list of everyone’s favorite songs, recipes, or films. 

Ice breaker games

Gamifying ice breakers adds a competitive aspect to the exercise, which can be good or bad depending on the context or the team. When using a game as an ice breaker, it can also be helpful to create teams within your meeting to allow colleagues to collaborate in order to win. 

Why should I use an ice breaker? 

While many people may find them cheesy, the data are pretty clear — giving people an opportunity to get to know one another at the outset of a project or meeting has measurable benefits when the real work begins. Not only do they help develop psychological safety (that is, the feeling that you can be honest about your feedback in a work setting without fear of repercussions, helping to avoid groupthink and develop better ideas), just telling an embarrassing story can meaningfully increase team creativity

Ice breaker questions for small groups

If you’re just establishing your new group, you can lay the foundation for great working relationships with a few simple steps. Below are some ice breaker examples that help teammates learn about one another and build ways of working together. 

1. What is a hobby or activity that you currently enjoy outside of work?

Not exactly revolutionary, but it does give people a quick way to introduce themselves and talk about a subject that’s of interest to them. Do you have a lot of outdoorsy types or travelers on your team? How many people started baking bread during the pandemic? Any passionate gardeners? Discovering a common interest can be a great way to build team chemistry. 

2. What TV show or movie did you love as a kid?

People love to reminisce — and it’s great for team building. The only risk here is if people are sensitive about age (this being a window into what was popular when they were younger), so use your discretion. (All I know is that anytime I have the opportunity to talk about Hey Dude, I’m on board.) 

3. What’s your go-to happy hour drink?

Have each person introduce themselves, and then offer their pick for best happy hour drink (non-alcoholic beverages welcome). This could also be a good way to set up a team happy hour or virtual meetup at a later time. 

4. If there were a movie about your life, who would you want to play you in the film, and why? 

A little on the cheesy side, yes, but this is a good way to get a sense for what kind of films your team enjoys, and, like the above question about favorite films from childhood, could form the basis for a watch party celebration together at a later date.

Related: 100 icebreaker questions to get the conversation started

Ice breaker activities for small groups

Activities to break the ice can be great for setting the tone in a meeting, and also create more opportunities for team building down the line.  

5. Share one of your favorite songs that makes you feel motivated and energized

This is a great way to break the ice, since it has the double benefit of creating a team playlist at the same time. Collect all the feedback and build a Spotify playlist that can be shared after the fact. 

6. Draw your neighbor

Put 5 minutes on the timer, and have everyone work on a sketch of their ‘neighbor’ (when in a hybrid or remote environment, you may need to assign people more specifically). Then, you can see if you have any Picassos hiding in your midst.

Bonus: There’s a Mural Sketch Your Neighbor template to help you hit the ground running. 
The Sketch Your Neighbor template by Mural
Use the Sketch Your Neighbor Template to easily run this ice breaker. You can sign up for a Free Forever MURAL workspace to get started with the template.

7. Share where you are and why we should visit

Have each person introduce themselves and share one thing they like about where they live. It might sound simple, but it’s one of the most important and useful ways to connect with teammates — establishing time zone differences, language barriers or connections, and ways of working together. Also, you can use this handy world map template to get started. 

The World Map Template by Mural
The World Map Template helps you quickly run a virtual ice breaker to help your group visualize where they're located.

8. Share a fun phrase or saying in your native language (or another language you speak) — what does it mean literally and what does it mean figuratively?

With remote and hybrid work environments becoming more prevalent, there are more opportunities to learn about different cultures and societies through teammates and colleagues. “Six of one, a half-dozen of the other” is just one of a host of quirky phrases that go back generations and are taken for granted today here in the United States, but does it translate? Idioms and phrases like this offer interesting insights into local culture, as well as opportunities to find similarities and connections. 

Ice breakers games for small groups

Adding a touch of competition can be the perfect way to engage and energize your group — and if you really want to up the ante, a little swag can go a long way. 

9. Two truths and a lie

Have everyone in your meeting share two things about themselves that are true, and one thing that is a lie. Then have the rest of the team try to guess which is the lie. (If you’re using Mural, you can use anonymous voting to avoid people influencing the rest of the group as they submit their guesses.) This is a popular and familiar game that encourages teammates to learn more about each other, while having fun guessing. Who has the best poker face? 

10. Rock, paper, scissors tournament

This can work even in hybrid or fully remote sessions, as long as everyone has good enough wifi and video fidelity. 

How it works: The meeting facilitator assigns the groups of two for the first round of the tournament. Each group of two competes in a best-of-three rock, paper, scissors battle. Then, the winners play one another until there is only one overall champion. 

11. Name that song

Play a short clip of a song and have everyone guess what it is — the first to submit the correct answer gets the crown. To prepare, choose three to five songs that you think have a good chance people will know (and to add intrigue, make the list in increasing order of difficulty). 

12. Terrible joke contest

What's the worst (work appropriate) joke you've ever heard? Have everyone submit their most cringe-worthy jokes, and then vote to crown the worst joke winner... if that’s what we’re going to call it.

Go forth and prosper

As we’ve established, ice breakers (while they may feel cheesy at times) are demonstrably effective at producing better, more productive, and more creative meetings — and ultimately more connected teams. 

We hope the above ideas work for you, or inspire still more ideas for your team. If you’re searching for more inspiration, check out our posts for Online Warmups & Energizers, 15 Celebration Ideas for Virtual & Hybrid Teams, and 25 Ice Breakers for Virtual Meetings, if you’re looking to connect in a remote-first or hybrid work environment.

To get started with Mural, sign up for a Free Forever account and take advantage of our ice breaker templates (also free, editable, and shareable). 

Can't decide?

We've got you covered with our icebreaker generator.

Generate icebreaker

...Click button to generate icebreaker

What day in your life would you like to relive?
Describe yourself in three words.
What was your dream job as a kid?
If you could be a character in any movie, what character and what movie would it be?
What three items would you bring with you on a deserted island?
What would you title your biography?
A genie grants you one wish; what do you wish for?
What is the best concert or festival you have ever been to?
If you could make an office rule that everyone had to follow for a day, what would it be?
If you invented an ice cream flavor, what ingredients would it have, and what would it be called?
What was your last Netflix (or other streaming platform) binge?
Which two companies would you like to be sponsored by?
What is your favorite breakfast cereal?
If you could add a holiday to the calendar, what would it be and when?
If you could organize a team retreat, where would it be?
Who has influenced your work ethic the most?
If you could swap roles with anyone for one day, who would it be?
If you were a genre of music, what would it be?
What movie has the best soundtrack?
What is your go-to karaoke song?
If you could name a band, what would it be called?
Which band would you join? And what would your role be?
Which artist or musician would you like to meet?
What song brings back childhood memories?
Would you rather spend a weekend in a tropical paradise or a snow haven?
Would you rather sail or 'van life' your way around the world?
Would you rather speak 10 languages or play 10 instruments?
Would you rather only read the end of every book or always forget the story’s ending?
Would you rather have slow internet or always forget your passwords?
Would you rather have every traffic light turn green or always have the best parking spot?
Would you rather be a whale or a lion?
Would you rather get free plane tickets or free accommodations for the rest of your life?
Would you rather be able to control time or fly?
Would you rather always be two hours early or 20 minutes late?
Why do we create art?
Where do you find inspiration?
If you could invite anyone in the world, historical or contemporary, who would be the three guests at your dinner table?
Who is your favorite travel buddy or group?
What is your favorite scene from a movie?
When was the last time you tried something for the first time?
When do you feel the most courageous?
What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?
What’s your favorite holiday celebration?
What three things would you do if you were invisible?
What piece of advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
What subject do you wish was taught in every school?
What is your superpower?
What is your favorite travel hack?
What is your proudest achievement?
What is your favorite travel story?
What is your favorite season?
What is your DJ name?
What is the most underrated city you have ever visited?
What is the best piece of feedback you have ever received?
What is the best prank you’ve experienced or planned?
What travel experience, city, or country impacted you the most?
What are the top three items on your bucket list?
What are the three values you treasure the most in a friendship?
Tell us your favorite joke.
Tell us a weird fact you happen to know for no reason.
If your pet could talk, what would they say?
If your life was captured in the “expectation vs. reality” meme, what would the two pictures be?
If you could take one prop from any movie set, what would it be?
If you had to sleep on a beach anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If you could organize a team retreat, where would it be?
If you could live in a different country for a year, which country would you choose?
Do you over or under-decorate for the holidays?
Name five things that make you happy
Do you consider yourself a lemon or a lime? Why?
If you could know the answer to any question, what would that question be?

About the author

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.