Communication Icebreakers (7 Simple Activities)

This blog will introduce you to communication icebreakers that you can use in any group setting. We will look at seven such activities and explain how and why they work. The instructions for each of these will be easy to follow so you can use these techniques to improve the flow of communication in teams, families, and get-togethers.

What are Communication Icebreakers?

Communication is a highly useful tool when you are dealing with multiple people. Unfortunately, not everyone is as good at it as they would like to be. In any group situation, some individuals find it harder to openly be themselves and interact in authentic ways. 

An icebreaker is anything that serves to relieve inhibitions or tension between people. It can be an activity, a game, or simply a prompted conversation.

The idea is to make everyone involved feel relaxed and uninhibited so they can proceed with the rest of the agenda without any reservations or apprehensions. Communication icebreakers are handy techniques that promote free and open exchanges of ideas and opinions.

Some examples of communication icebreakers are:

  • Adjective + Name
  • Two Truths & One Lie
  • Introduction Bingo
  • Listen & Draw
  • Telephone
  • The Memory Test
  • Minefield
  • Eye to Eye
  • 10 Things in Common
  • Body Language Game

How do Communication Icebreakers Work?

The word icebreaker was first used in the 17th century when Samuel Butler used it in his poem Hudibras. This poem mentions in its 490th verse the lines, “At last broke silence, and the ice.”

Since then, the term has been in popular usage, and appropriately, because it is precisely what the name describes. Something that takes away the coldness of being amongst strangers so you may open up freely and participate actively in the group gathering.

Icebreakers can help in the following ways:

Better listening

Typically, most icebreakers consist of an activity or engagement exercise that requires one to listen to others. It requires attention and focus but manages to do this in a fun and playful way. As a result, no one hesitates to take part and end up enjoying the interaction. 

Consequently, all participants have their sense organs paying attention to the rest of the group, especially the mediator conducting the group engagement. Moreover, they feel seen and heard, which discourages any feelings of alienation or exclusion.

Communication instruments

In general, a good icebreaker is one that utilises a person’s ability to convey information clearly and effectively. We all have this ability in us, even if we doubt ourselves. Since the nature of the icebreaker activity is easygoing and enjoyable, participants are able to explore their communication skills without feeling anxious or incompetent.

Most of all, communication icebreakers are extremely inclusive, letting all members of a group feel united and part of a team.

Feedback

The best thing about icebreakers is that they create scope for giving and receiving constructive criticism. Without this essential component, an icebreaker can never be that effective.

As these activities encourage discourse and exchanges of thoughts and ideas, they promote the spirit of sharing feedback, something crucial for any group interaction to carry forward successfully.

Familiarity

If the participants in the group setting are strangers or acquaintances at best, icebreakers serve as a particularly effective way of increasing familiarity. The enjoyable nature of the activity allows people to get to know each other in an informal way before they can continue with the actual plan of the interaction.

This helps in lowering inhibitions and any shyness participants might feel. Because of this, it’s easier to engage more authentically and meet the goals of the group meeting.

10 Communication Icebreakers to Try

Adjective + Name

This is a basic game to introduce group members to each other. The idea is to reveal one aspect of each participant’s personality using an adjective starting with the same letter as their name.

How to Play

  • The instructor explains the game and takes the first turn
  • If their name is, for example, Anna, they will say “Hi, I’m Awkward Anna!” and then act out the adjective through their body language
  • Then, the rest of the group members will do the same
  • For example, Suzie might say “Hi, I’m Sleepy Suzie” and then pretend to snore

Purpose

By introducing themselves with an adjective and relevant action, participants feel more relaxed and familiar with each other, making communication more effective for the following activities.

Two Truths & One Lie

Another game to get to know one another, Two Truths & One Lie is a fun communication icebreaker that requires a little bit of creativity.

How to Play

  • The instructor explains the game and takes the first turn
  • They must say three things about them, two of which are true, and the third, a lie
  • For example, if the instructor is a diabetic who likes gardening and just returned from a trip to Paris, they might say, “I have a chronic health condition, I love to work in my garden, and I’ve never been to France”
  • The rest of the group have to guess which one of these three statements is the lie
  • Once they get it right, everyone else takes a turn

Purpose

By playing this unique game, you not only get to know the participants better, you also learn how good they are at lying. This activity encourages creativity and makes the interaction playful. Consequently, communication becomes smoother as the meeting continues.

Introduction Bingo

If you’ve ever played Bingo, you know the thrill of getting a row, column, or diagonal crossed out first before the rest of the players. By using this simple and fun game, you can create an icebreaker activity to get your group members better acquainted with each other.

How to Play

  • Each participant is handed out a card with the box given below
  • The room is cleared of any obstacles and the participants are asked to walk around and engage with others one person at a time
  • If two people interact and find that they share one of the interests in the Bingo grid, they can cross it off
  • The first person to get a row, column, or diagonal of 5 items crossed off wins and gets to declare, “Bingo!”

Purpose

This is a fun and interactive way to introduce yourself to a group of strangers and find out what you share in common. It can spark off conversations in the future and help the main agenda of the gathering proceed with lesser effort.

Likes to bakeInvests in real estateHas never been in loveHas travelled abroadIs lactose intolerant
Has a smoking habitLives with a petEnjoys makeupLikes gardeningCan eat an entire pizza in one sitting
Goes to the gymListens to jazzOwns an antiqueIs a morning personPrefers staying indoors
Went on a date last weekendForgets a lotEnjoys creating artLoves Indian foodEnjoys long walks in the park
Likes Celine DionIs veganHas read CamusIs close to parents/familyRecently bought something for their hobby

Listen & Draw

A team game that requires one to give clear and concise instructions and to listen carefully.

How to Play

  • The group gets divided into pairs
  • Partners are asked to sit with their backs against each other
  • One partner is given a slip of paper containing the name of a basic object, for example, a bicycle, clock, or toothbrush
  • This partner then instructs the other partner to draw the object on a card but has to do so without naming the object
  • You can only use shapes, location cues, and descriptive words to instruct
  • The other partner has to then guess the object name

Purpose

Most people struggle to get the name right because of ineffective communication. This game helps participants reflect on how they must word their instructions and listen attentively.

Telephone

An old-timer in the world of group games, this one is a classic communication icebreaker.

How to Play

  • Everyone is asked to sit in a circle or a chain
  • One person is revealed a slip of paper containing the piece of information that has to be passed along
  • This has to be a rather long and nonsensical sentence, like, “Patty bought a piece of cake and then threw it in a lake because she forgot how to bake”
  • Now, the person has to whisper it to the person on their left and so on till the last person in the group has received the message

Purpose

Often, people tend to lose bits of information along the way, or might even add irrelevant words, due to gaps in communication. This funny game helps lighten the atmosphere while encouraging effective listening.

The Memory Test

Better played in large groups, this exciting icebreaker tests people’s memory skills.

How to Play

  • Everyone makes a big circle and the instructor starts by picking a theme and saying a word, for example, a theme of food with the word, “spaghetti”
  • Then, one by one, each member adds to the list after chronologically repeating all the items mentioned before
  • The mediator can keep track by making a list
  • The game can take two rounds so it’s fair for people who start at the beginning and end of the circle
  • Anyone who misses a word or gets the sequence wrong is out of the circle
  • The last person in the circle is the winner

Purpose

As they’re sitting in a circle, this game promotes a lot of eye contact between group members because they try to participate actively. It’s also a lot of fun when the list gets longer and has more complicated words.

Minefield

This is a game about building trust and requires an empty room with carefully placed obstacles.

How to Play

  • Everyone gets divided into teams of two
  • One person wears a blindfold while the other has to guide their movement across the room through verbal instructions
  • The idea is to communicate effectively and on time to prevent accidents and complete the task as quickly as possible
  • The team with the lowest time wins

Purpose

This icebreaker encourages teammates to trust each other and communicate carefully. It can also create a healthy competitive spirit to make a boring meeting more enjoyable.

Conclusion

This blog introduced you to communication icebreakers that you can use in any group setting. We looked at seven such activities and explain how and why they work. The instructions for each of these were easy to follow so you can use these techniques to improve the flow of communication in teams, families, and get-togethers.

The communication icebreakers included here were Adjective + Name, Two Truths & One Lie, Introduction Bingo, Listen & Draw, Telephone, The Memory Test, and Minefield

FAQs (Communication Icebreakers)

What are ice breakers in communication?

In any group setting, an icebreaker can welcome and warm-up interaction between members through the means of an activity or a game. Generally, these are used to encourage familiarity, team spirit, and communication skills. 

What are some communication activities?

Here is a list of some communication icebreaker activities:

  • Adjective + Name
  • Two Truths & One Lie
  • Introduction Bingo
  • Listen & Draw
  • Telephone
  • The Memory Test
  • Minefield
  • Eye to Eye
  • 10 Things in Common
  • Body Language Game

What makes a good communication icebreaker?

A good communication icebreaker is one that is inclusive so that all group members have to participate actively. It should also incorporate essential communication skills like giving instructions, listening, following up, trust, body language, and building rapport.

What are the types of icebreakers?

Icebreakers can be of the following types:

  • Question & Answer
  • Age-Based
  • Guessing Game
  • Small Group
  • Large Group
  • Personal
  • Corporate
  • Active Game
  • Video
  • Relaxing Game

References

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