Play of the month: Think icebreakers are time wasters? Then you haven't tried these.

Kristen Roth
Community Manager
Community Managers are Atlassian Team members who specifically run and moderate Atlassian communities. Feel free to say hello!
July 15, 2021

When you hear you’ll be kicking off a meeting or an event with an icebreaker activity, how do you feel? Excited to share something? Nervous your answer won’t be interesting enough? Or maybe you just think… “Really? Again?” No matter your feeling, you should know that the benefits of icebreakers make them more than worth the time.

icebreakers_NL.png

Icebreakers can work wonders for diffusing team anxiety. These quick activities also go a long way toward promoting psychological safety. They encourage a creative atmosphere in which team members feel more free to speak their minds and question ideas without fear of humiliation. Icebreakers also help foster trust and respect across groups while building up team cohesion. And feeling more comfortable with each other ultimately means you’ll produce better work together. What’s not to love?

How do you feel about Icebreakers? If you’re a fan, what’s your favorite one to ask a group? If you’re not, have we convinced you to look at Icebreakers through a new lens and give them another go?

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G subramanyam
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July 15, 2021

Hi @Kristen Roth that's helpful benefits. It's always curious and "fun to know the other side of you".

It's the ice breaker that triggers the momentum. I liked the "One-word Icebreaker". We usually do it in Sprint Retrospectives.

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Kristen Roth
Community Manager
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July 15, 2021

What's an example of a one-word icebreaker you recently used or loved, @G subramanyam ? I agree. Those are great! 

Sajit Nair
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July 28, 2021

love icebreakers.. now that we all only get on call to talk about work.. it helps to do those when we are doing a townhall or a brain storming session.

Martin Keane July 21, 2021

@Kristen Roth I really always enjoy Two Truths and a Lie; always feels a good way to get some engagement going. You usually end up with some fun conversation starters from the truths and some belly laughs with the lies :D

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Kristen Roth
Community Manager
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July 21, 2021

Me too, @Martin Keane ! It's definitely a fun one.

Huwen Arnone _Deiser_
Solutions Partner
Solution Partners provide consulting, sales, and technical services on Atlassian products.
July 22, 2021

For me, it depends on the type of the Icebreaker; if it implies an activity like dancing or singing, I'm not in, but if it is something conversational like naming your superhero name or titling your autobiography... even talking about the weather or music... I think that's more entertaining.

Travels and music are a sure shot!

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Kristen Roth
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July 22, 2021

Oh I totally agree with you, @Huwen Arnone _Deiser_ ! I don't think I'd be up for a  dancing or singing Icebreaker either! 

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Huwen Arnone _Deiser_
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Solution Partners provide consulting, sales, and technical services on Atlassian products.
July 22, 2021

I once had that... my camera went off "by accident" 😂🤫 @Kristen Roth 

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Kristen Roth
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July 27, 2021

Great timing, @Huwen Arnone _Deiser_ ! 😉

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Martina Banev July 26, 2021

I love ice breakers, especially ones that get people moving when we are in the same room. It's been much harder during quarantine, but I recently asked my team to play a guessing game that went well.  I collected the first job each team member held, created a simple presentation, and during our retrospective, we tried to guess who did what. My team has been together for many years, so I wasn't sure it would be successful, but we had a blast and were really amazed at the interesting things people have done in past lives. We discovered there's always more you can learn about the people around you!

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Kristen Roth
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July 27, 2021

I love guessing games, @Martina Banev! A fun one that I've done recently was a handwriting guessing game. Each team member wrote the same phrase on piece of paper, then we each took a photo of our papers and added them all to a Confluence page. We then went around guessing whose writing was whose. It was especially interesting and fun because although many of us had been working together for years, we realized we'd never seen each others' handwriting!

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Martina Banev August 2, 2021

@Kristen Roth that's a good one! Thanks for the idea!

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Kristin Lyons
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July 28, 2021

It honestly depends on who I'm playing with, sometimes playing with complete strangers is intimidating and makes me nervous but I guess that's the point :) I am coming up with a blank on some of my favorites but two truths and a lie is one I've played many times.

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Kristen Roth
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July 28, 2021

Always a good one, @Kristin Lyons !

Ajay _view26_
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July 30, 2021

Icebreakers are always both exciting and intimidating. I mean it always depends upon the size of the group, the type of people (ones who are familiar and unfamiliar). But irrespective of all that, once it kicks off I guess things start to get interesting. Even things like asking simple questions, presenting fun questions through platforms like 'mentimeter' (where one can be anonymous and still participate) or even a round of 'this or that' are always a win!

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Kristen Roth
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August 2, 2021

I totally agree! 

nina_schmidt
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July 31, 2021

We recently tried one and it worked out really good --> please check out my article and feel free to comment on it 

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Kristen Roth
Community Manager
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August 2, 2021

That was a great one! Thanks for sharing and writing about your experience, Nina! 

Kevin Tuei
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July 31, 2021

Icebreakers as always do good more than harm. The choice always depends on the audience who will participate in it as well as the venue. Some icebreaker activities may backfire if the audience and the venue have not been considered. That does not mean the ice breaker activity is not good just not applicable.

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Kristen Roth
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August 2, 2021

Great points, @Kevin Tuei

Hana Kučerová
Community Leader
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August 2, 2021

I'm curious. Has any of you tried some of these not with your team, but with your customers? How did it go? Under which circumstances? Did it help you somehow? Thank you.

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Alex Koxaras _Relational_
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August 5, 2021

I love icebreakers! Especially if the instructor really knows how to do the job, it's really fun and remove all the anxiety you might have in the first place. It's also a very good-to-know of all the participants and the role they might play within the team.

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Prashant Sangappa Shivashimpi August 10, 2021

Hi @Kristen Roth ,

 

This is really awesome.. Great stuff.. Thanks for sharing.

 

BR,

Prashant.

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Colum McAndrew August 11, 2021

Icebreakers can be useful in some scenarios, but not for every meeting. I'd only use them for longer team meetings. For shorter meetings, they'd eat up into the time available.

I also think their use will depend on the team size and makeup. I can see circumstances where they would generate a lot of interaction, too much in fact, putting a lot of additional pressure on the team's Chair to keep it under control. 

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Benjamin
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September 7, 2021

Icebreakers I find are great when forming a new team on a project where no one really knows each other. Sometimes, you have to read the room, if its warranted. Sometimes, its about getting things done than getting to know the folks in the room. 

 

For me, Icebreaker games or questions is a nice way to get to know each other outside of work or project. 

 

-Ben

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Kristen Roth
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September 8, 2021

I agree, @Benjamin !

Vronik September 18, 2021

Hi @Kristen Roth 

  This is very interesting, thanks for sharing !!!

Regards

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Esme Crutchley
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September 24, 2021

Sometimes I miss being part of a big team! It's just the two of us now that I've embraced my new solopreneur life...there's nothing that I don't know about my VA and nothing that they don't know about me...wondering if there's an ice breaker that would be fun for us to do anyway!

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Kristen Roth
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October 22, 2021

Oh there's got to be something, @Esme Crutchley ! Thinking of a few from my recent team meetings:

  • What are three things you always have in your refrigerator?
  • How do you practice self care?
  • What was your all-time favorite Halloween costume?

We get pretty creative! 

Fabian Lim
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October 2, 2021

I just joined this group and there is a lot of great content posted. Thanks for sharing @Kristen Roth 

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Kristen Roth
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October 22, 2021

Thanks for joining us, @Fabian Lim !

Tina Behers
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October 19, 2021

yay!!  Love some of these!  

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Kristen Roth
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October 22, 2021

Icebreakers are so much fun!

Clint Young November 1, 2021

I'd like to know good ways to "break the ice" with managers to get them to think about implementing these Icebreakers. 😉

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Kristen Roth
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November 3, 2021

Hi, @Clint Young! Do you think sharing this article (or some of the points made in it) would help? 

  • Strong team cohesion – how bonded people feel to one another – is a key element for success in distributed teams.
  • Icebreakers can be an effective way to help teams get to know each other and feel more comfortable collaborating.
Srinatha T
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
April 10, 2022

Yes, indeed these are very good info for managers.

Jeanie Hioki November 17, 2021

What kind of icebreakers work for teleworking/remote teams? Most times we can't even get attendees to chime in on important issues. Any suggestions?

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Kristen Roth
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November 17, 2021

Hi, @Jeanie Hioki! Icebreakers can be especially beneficial for building psychological safety among remote teams. My (all remote) team does an ice breaker each week to kick off our regular team meeting. We rotate who picks the question from week to week, and then go around the Zoom room taking turns to answer. Some recent favorites have been:

- Tell us about your first job

- What's your favorite holiday dish?

- When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As we get to know each other more by learning fun, interesting new things, we'll likely feel more comfortable sharing our thoughts on important issues as well. Let us  know if you give ice breakers a try!

Jeanie Hioki November 17, 2021

Wow, that is awesome!  Those questions sound doable.  Okay, I will give it a try. Thanks!

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Kristen Roth
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November 18, 2021

Great! We'd love to hear how it goes, @Jeanie Hioki !

Hakeem Olasupo
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November 19, 2021

I love icebreakers 

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Lani December 16, 2021

We just played googlefeud and all laughed hysterically which is a great way to start a meeting!

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Dave Mathijs
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January 12, 2022

Hi @Kristen Roth , this one's actually quite surprising, love the twist take on this play.

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Kristen Roth
Community Manager
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January 12, 2022

Thanks for reading, @Dave Mathijs ! My team has so much fun with icebreakers. They're such a great way to kick off a meeting!

Darryl Lee
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
March 11, 2022

100% helpful! It's always hard to make the first move.

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Srinatha T
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April 10, 2022

@Kristen Roth , Thank you for sharing this. The questions in the ICEBREAKER are really funny and it will actually help in making our team think. A true ICEBREAKER i would say. I am loving your posts. i will try these in our team meeting.

Craig Nodwell
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June 29, 2022

I like this and will pass this onto the folks who can carry it forward.

Valerie Knapp
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September 23, 2022

I tried to do an icebreaker-type session with my team but we just ended up talking about work. Has anyone else had this experience? Any suggestions?

Sayed Bares [ServiceRocket]
Community Leader
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November 10, 2022

I would suggest adding a no-work topic discretion before kicking off icebreaker meetings. That is what we do when we want to socialize and know about each other

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