4 Free Apps to Use for Team Icebreakers

4 Free Apps to Use for Team Icebreakers

Here are some free app’s that you can use to run icebreaker activities in meetings and for special events. All of these app’s are free; although, some of them offer “Pro” or paid versions that offer even more activities or icebreaker questions.

For each app, I’ll tell you a little about the app, let you know what I like about the app but also what I think could and should be improved. I tried a total of 7 app’s. One of them I couldn’t even get to open up. It kept crashing when I tried to launch it. One of them I had to connect via a social media network, answer 10 questions, and then would not let me continue to the main part of the app. I would avoid these 2 app’s like the plague.

1. Icebreakers

Icebreakers is an app specifically designed with facilitators and team builders in mind. It is obvious that it is designed for teams to use in meetings, activities, events, etc., not only for icebreakers, but also for some team building activities.

What I like about this app:

The app includes a good number (more than you might think in a free version) of activities and icebreaker games. They are divided into different categories, as well as options to select them according to group size and situations (such as Sales Meetings, Staff Meetings, Classroom, Outdoors, etc.)

I like that this app includes an explanation of what icebreakers are, their purpose, and also directions on facilitating these, as well as encouragement to debrief these upon completion.

I also like that this app includes different variations with some of the exercises, provides a degree of physical activity (low, medium, high), and also includes how long each activity should run.

What could be improved:

Many of the icebreakers in the app are really more team building activities. Not a bad thing, but the developers might think about renaming the app since quite a few of the games are beyond simple icebreaker activities.

Visually the app could use some improvements. The way the app is designed, some of the instructions are hard to read. It seems like everything is tabbed over to the right somewhat, scrunching things up.

The most annoying thing (really the only annoying thing) about this app is the ads that keep popping up that you have to close in order to use the app.

Screenshots:

App for icebreaker games       Apps to use for icebreaker games 2

Overall recommendation: Of the app’s I reviewed, I would say that this one is definitely worth getting.

Click here to get this app.

2. Let’s Talk

Although this app is not designed for the specific purpose of building teams, the questions in the app can be used as such. This app wouldn’t be the most versatile of these free app’s, but it could be a good place to start in your coworkers getting to know each other.

What I like about this app:

In the free version, there are 4 different categories (there are 9 in the paid version.) Each category has questions that you can scroll through and ask members of your team.

You can also click on a small heart at the bottom of the screen to tag questions as “favorites”. This would be helpful for a facilitator to go through these ahead of time and tag questions they would use to facilitate a group discussion.

The app allows you to go forward and backwards through the questions (not all app’s listed here allow you to go back to a previous question).

What could be improved:

The categories are limited, as are the questions that you get in the free version. Usability is ok, but this app is very simplistic in both design and functionality. Again, it’s not designed for the purpose of icebreaker games, but it is designed to stimulate discussion (whether on a date or with friends or family). That being said, it would be nice to be able to choose questions based on different categories, not just your situation (small group, date, etc.)

Screenshots:

Apps use for icebreaker activities        Apps used for icebreaker activities 2

 

Overall recommendation: Even with its limitations, this could be a good app to use to start discussion among team members. Just remember, the categories are very limited.

Click here to get this app.

3. Icebreakers – Meetings

This is another app specifically created to lead icebreaker activities for your group or team. This app is focused on different categories of icebreaker questions. There are not icebreaker activities in this one, just questions.

What I like about this app:

There are 12 different categories of icebreaker questions to choose from in this app. I like the variety of subjects that you can pick from. The categories include:

Professional Experience
Leadership
Job History
Project Experience
Television
School
Personal/Family
Change
Future
Childhood
Spare Time
Hobbies

That’s a significant number of categories for the free version. Kudos to the developers for that. Having different categories allows you to get to know a person on a deep level (say if you included the Personal/Family and Childhood category) or on a professional level, with questions pertaining to Job History and Leadership.

What could be improved:

The app only takes you through different icebreaker questions. It would be nice for other icebreaker games to be included in this app, if only a limited number in the free version.

Icebreakers are more than just questions. You can learn all kinds of things about people by having fun and doing different kinds of activities beyond just asking questions.

The questions also seem to repeat themselves quite often within each category, regardless of which category you choose. Not sure if more questions need to be added, or the way that the app selects the questions need to be modified.

Overall Recommendation:

If you are merely looking for icebreaker questions, this app is great. If you are looking for more than just icebreaker questions, you might want to keep looking.

Click here to get this app.

4. Wealthy Walrus

This app is another one that’s not designed specifically for icebreaker games, but you could certainly use this to get to know your team mates better.

What I like about this app:

I like the creative premise behind the app:

A wealthy walrus has plenty of money to give out, but you must do certain things in order to earn that amount.

For example,

For $14 million,

“Would you press a button that blows up an uninhabited planet outside of our solar system?”

You then answer Yes or No, and it shows you the percentage of people that have chosen each answer. Some are quite surprising!

What could be improved:

Again, it’s not made specifically for the purpose that we are talking about; however, there are a limited number of questions, and every so often, a pop-up displays asking you to buy more questions (which several additional question packages are available for $0.99 each)

Overall recommendation:

This would be a great app for a creative way to get to know your group. It is pretty limited in its scope, but you can also upgrade to expand the questions. For a simple icebreaker game, though, the free version would be just fine.

Click here to get this app.

All in all, these are a few apps that you could use as icebreakers for your team. My top pick is the first one, simply called Icebreakers. Surprisingly (or maybe not) there are very few apps to choose from in this subject area. It might just be time to create one! 🙂

What apps have you used to foster discussion in your group? What other recommendations do you have for apps to use for icebreakers?

[photo credit Nicola via Flickr]

5 Quick and Easy Icebreaker Games You Can Do with 1 Piece of Webbing

5 Quick and Easy Icebreaker Games You Can Do with 1 Piece of Webbing

Here are a few icebreaker games you can do with a short piece of 1″ Tubular Webbing. You’ll need one piece of webbing about 15 feet long for each of these activities. If you only have one group (up to 10 or 12 people), you can use the same piece of webbing for each one. If you will be facilitating these icebreaker games for more than one group at a time, then you will need one length of webbing per group.

You can find tubular webbing online, or at local outdoor stores, such as REI. It comes in several different colors, and you want to get webbing that is an inch wide.If you don’t have a local outdoor store near you, you might also find webbing at horse tack shops and/or military surplus stores.

Use these for individual exercises, or group them together for a unique team building experience. I would also recommend using some creative debriefing exercises following each activity if you’re doing more than one.

1. Webbing House

For this icebreaker activity, you will need your length of webbing, and you will also need to print out the following image on a piece of paper:

webbing icebreaker game

The object of this activity is to make the webbing look like the picture. There are 3 levels that a person can enter into (don’t let the participant know what “level” they’ve achieved until after completing it one time.)

Level 1 – The webbing crosses over itself in at least 1 place.

Level 2 – The webbing does not cross over itself at all, but the ends do not touch.

Level 3 – No webbing crosses over itself and the loose ends meet.

After an individual or team has attempted the activity once, let them know what level they entered at, and see if they can “level up” from there. At this point, you can let them know what it takes to get to the next level.

(*Facilitator’s note. I learned this activity from Mark Collard, formerly of Project Adventure. As far as he knows, no one has ever achieved Level 3; however, do not let participants know this. When you debrief with them, you can talk about adventure. Part of adventure is experimenting with what is possible. Would you try something if you knew it wasn’t even possible?)

2. Where ya from/Where ya been?

This activity also uses a circular piece of webbing. The goal of this activity is for each person in the group to:

1.) Share where they are from or a place they have been to recently.

2.) Create a shape with the webbing that represents the place they have described and then share what about that place makes it important to them.

It’s a simple activity, but it’s a great way to get to know your group better. We all have significant places in our history – it’s part of our story. This game allows people to share that part of their story with others.

3. Twice around the block.

This fun icebreaker game helps people introduce themselves in a non-threatening way. You’ll need a piece of webbing for every 5-6 people. The webbing should be made into a circle using a water knot.

The person closest to the knot goes first and lets go of the webbing. As she begins to introduce herself, the rest of the group starts sliding the webbing through their hands so that the knot moves around the circle.

Once the knot goes twice around the circle and ends up back at the person talking, that person’s turn is over, and it moves to the next individual.

If the story is interesting, people can slow the rotation down to hear more about the speaker. If they would like the person’s time to end, they can speed it up! Often, teams will speed up the knot passing, laugh, and then slow it down to let each person have ample time to speak.

4. That’s a Wrap!

Each person takes turn telling a story about themselves. The participant chooses the story and as they talk they begin to wrap the webbing around their index finger. The story ends when all of the webbing is wrapped around the finger.

The person who told the story must unwind the webbing by holding on to the loose outside end, and flinging it through their legs backward. Just don’t hit anyone in the process! 🙂

5. Spectrums.

This is a great get-to-know-you activity where people answer questions based upon where they fall along a given spectrum. For instance: Cat lover or dog lover? Chocolate or vanilla? etc.

Make sure there are no knots or kinks in the webbing and lay the piece of webbing along the ground in a straight line. Also, be sure there is ample room on either end of the webbing, in case more space is needed.

You will ask the group certain questions, and each person will need to position himself or herself along the line according to how they answer each question.

For each spectrum chosen, let your group know which end corresponds to what answer. Participants can line up anywhere along the spectrum. For example, if you say one end represents “Chocolate” and one end represents “Vanilla”, people can choose one end or the other, or anywhere in between.

Ask for some people to share why they chose that specific place along the spectrum. Be creative, and use as many questions as you want. What ways would you like to get to know your team?

What other ways can you use webbing for an icebreaker game? Let me know in the comments below!

Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, and if you decide to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no additional cost to you.  Please know that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something but because they are helpful and useful, .  Please only spend money on these products if you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your or your team’s goals.

[caption photo courtesy DaveOlsen, Flickr]

 

7 Ways to Motivate Your Team Red-Carpet Style

7 Ways to Motivate Your Team Red-Carpet Style

There are a lot of ways to motivate your team and let them know you appreciate them. Since we are in the season of major award shows and nominations, I wanted to offer some suggestions on ways to help motivate and encourage your people “red-carpet style.”

Several of these can be done with a limited budget and many of these can be tweaked or combined to create an all-out superstar event that your people will talk about for years to come.

1. Roll out the red carpet

Make your employees feel like stars. Surprise them with a red carpet experience that they won’t soon forget. Rent a large red carpet and have your employees enter work in style. Encourage a “dress-up day” citing some important people arriving that day.

In addition to the red carpet,  have some volunteers who are clamoring to take their picture with these VIP’s. Who doesn’t like attention like that?

Variations:

Add a limo to have your team take pictures in before going in to work. Or, as they arrive, let them take a ride around the block in the limo and have some paparazzi (see below) waiting for them when they come back.

2. Give Your Team the Paparazzi Treatment

You can pair this with another event listed here, or do it on its own. Surprise your employees at work one morning with a line of paparazzi waiting for them to enter the building.

Imagine your team walking in with people shouting their name and taking massive amounts of pictures of them as they arrive, making them feel like Golden Globe or Oscar nominees.

3. Plan a Limo Lunch for Star Employees

Once a year or once a quarter (depending on your budget), take your star employees out for a nice lunch and transport them there via a limo.

How will you choose which ones go? Have a contest (sales, production, etc.) and set criteria to qualify. Everyone who qualifies gets to go.

Variation: Want to pair this with a way to increase customer service? Combine the qualification process with those who receive a certain number of compliments, customer service awards/points, or positive customer experience evaluations.

4. Host an Oscars Awards Night for Your Team

It’s time for some serious fun and some serious planning. Combine all of the above events to create an awards nights for your crew. This will take a lot of leg work and advanced planning, but what better way to honor your employees?

Hand out awards as part of the night. Be creative. Hand out serious awards, plus some fun ones. Get a team together to help brainstorm and plan the night.

5. After-party.

Plan an after-work party to thank your employees. Hire someone to cater food and drinks. Bring in a DJ for some after-work foot-stomping fun.

Variation: Go to an off-site venue, such as a lake house, hotel, or other hot spot in the area.

6. Create a “People’s Choice Awards” Event

Host an awards night where members of your team vote on different categories of awards to give out at a party dedicated to honoring the best and brightest among your crew.

Possible awards to hand out:

Best Salesman
Best Saleswoman
Best Support Staff
Best Advertising Campaign

Variations:

Have a crazy awards night – brainstorm some creative ideas on awards to give out and make it a fun, creative event.

“Most Likely to Sell Snow to a Snowman”

“Most Likely to Call in Sick After [favorite sports team] Loses”

“Best Excuse for Missing Work”

7. Premier Movie Event

Honor your employees by hosting a premier movie event. Announce that they will be experiencing a one-of-a-kind movie premier as a way of thanking them. What you don’t tell them is that they are the stars in this movie premier.

Hire a videographer to take some covert shots of your crew performing at their best. Have an editor compile it into a movie-premiere styled video and show it off at a local theater.

Variation: Combine this event with the After Party idea and/ or limo rides (above) to make it a special night that will “wow” your team.

What other ways can you think of to thank your people “red-carpet” style? Which one sounds most do-able for you?

[Photo credit: Zoonabar via Flickr.]

A Team Building Activity Adapted from The Biggest Loser

A Team Building Activity Adapted from The Biggest Loser

I’m always looking for new ideas for team building activities. Last night, I was watching The Biggest Loser with my family. We find the show very uplifting and encouraging. One of the activities they did inspired an idea for a team building activity that I want to share with you.

The participants had been on a hike together, and at the peak of their hike, the trainers gave them what looked like a small, folded piece of paper. However, inside of the paper was a butterfly. They were to answer the question, “What is your intention for the remainder of your time here?”

After everyone had shared, they opened up their folder paper, and released a butterfly, symbolizing both their journey of transformation and what their part was going to be in that process until the end.

Ways to Use This Team Building Activity

There are several scenarios where you could use this kind of activity:

  1. Launching a new project and using this with project managers or team  leaders.
  2. In the middle of a project that is heading in the wrong direction. Use it to help re-direct both staff and leaders.
  3. At the end of a project to celebrate accomplishments and talk about what’s next on the horizon.
  4. Taking your team to a new level of trust and authenticity.

How to Set Up This Team Activity

Set up for this activity will be relatively easy. I don’t think you necessarily need to have butterflies folded up in paper pouches; although, if you could pull that off, it would be impressive. (If you live near a Butterfly Pavilion, Nature Center or Botanical Gardens, it might be worth a call to see what’s possible.)

Decide what end result you want to achieve. I talk a lot about setting goals and being intentional about team building activities. To get the most out of them, you have to think about what results you want to achieve. Learn more here.

Begin with a hike or some kind of team activity that isn’t competitive and will focus on change and transformation. You can check out Playmeo for a great database of activities.

At the end of the hike, ask the question (you will need to tweak the question depending on how you want to use the activity):

As we’re looking at this new project, what will be your primary intention you will focus on?

Allow ample time for responses. Encourage everyone to share (but we follow the rule of challenge by choice). After everyone has shared, release the butterflies (or other item – see below for modifications).

Debriefing the Activity

Talk about what people have shared and their commitment to the team and project and that part of the responsibility of the team is to hold each other accountable to our intentions and goals.

[You could also combine this activity with a time of goal-setting and looking at ways to hold the team accountable to goals and intentions.]

Ways to Modify This Activity

Knowing that everyone might not have access to butterflies, here are a few ways that this activity could be modified to use:

  1. Instead of butterflies, you could use helium-filled balloons and release them at the proper time. Talk about ways for the groups intentions to stay on track and not become “deflated” (see what I did there.)
  2. You could do this activity at night and use Chinese lanterns. Light them and release them to symbolize the group’s intentions being shared with everyone.
  3. If you are talking about a project NOT going well, you could ask your team to write on pieces of paper things that are not working well, and at the end of the sharing time, you burn the pieces of paper, symbolizing you are letting go of old ways and then brainstorm of ways to get the project back on track.

How else you use an activity like this for your team? What other ways can you modify it to suit your needs?

My First eBook and Conquering Fear

My First eBook and Conquering Fear

Well, today is the first official day of the launch of my eBook, 4 Steps to Choosing the Best Team Building Activities. It’s been an interesting journey. I’ve learned a lot not only about the eBook process, but also about stepping out in the midst of fear.

You wouldn’t think that writing and publishing a relatively brief eBook would be that big of a deal. It’s taken a while for me to complete the book, not necessarily because of the content, but because of the doubts and fears that seem to pause me in my journey along the way.

I want to encourage anyone who is thinking of writing (whatever form that takes) to begin and push through. Simply going through the process has been worth it for me. Regardless of the outcome. The goal of the book is not to make a ton of money, but to get it out, to push past the fear and uncertainty, and to produce and release something that will help others, and that I can be proud of.

Who is the book for?

The book is written for leaders and managers who want to know how to choose and implement the best team building activities for their group. Leading your team through an activity is not enough. There is a process to truly finding and facilitating effective team building.

This book is for those leaders who want to get the most out of these kinds of exercises, and not only lead their team through them, but also transform their team in the process. By following the steps in this book, a facilitator can learn the process by which teams are not only improved but changed for the better.

What is the book about?

First, this book will teach you first about the different types of team building activities. In order to lead these kinds of activities effectively, it helps to first understand the differences between group initiatives vs. low ropes courses elements and several other distinctive activities.

It then lays out a simple 4-step process for choosing the best team building activities. It’s not complicated, although it does require the facilitator to be intentional about each step in this strategy.

It is the exact process I use when working with teams and facilitators.

Whether a half-day program, or multi-day event, this book will help the reader in several areas:

  • How to select the right exercises to boost team productivity, trust,         communication, and more!
  • Feel confident you’ve chosen activities your team will enjoy and benefit from
  • Achieve your team’s goals and objectives.

Why did I write this book?

There are a number of team building resources on the web, but there are only a few really excellent ones. My goal with this site and the books and resources that I develop is to create high-quality resources and training for those who want to learn how to facilitate and lead only the most effective team building activities. This is the first of those resources.

I hope you enjoy the book and learn a lot!

best team building activities cover

To order a copy of the book click here.

What did you think of the book? Leave your comments below. 

What Makes Team Building Activities Effective?

What Makes Team Building Activities Effective?

There are words and phrases that get watered-down, misused, and ultimately can get a bad reputation. Team building is one of those, especially when people discuss team building activities. Now, just about everything is labelled as team building as long as it’s done with a group of people. Thoughts of trust falls gone wrong, “paintballing the boss”, and other horror stories abound. For those of us who have worked in the industry, it is painful to hear about and read about these stories.

Team building is a legitimate and helpful field, when done correctly. There are numerous things that are labelled as team building activities that shouldn’t be. However, there is a vast amount of creativity and ingenuity in the field of team building. If you’re wondering about what makes team building activities effective versus what does not, here are some helpful suggestions:

Effective Team Building Activities are Goal-Oriented

The first step even before choosing these activities (or a company to run them) should be to sit down with your team and set goals for the day. What do you want to accomplish? What issues is your team facing? What changes do you want to see in your team following these activities?

These questions need to be answered as well as looking at what activities will best fit your goals and needs. If you are not sure, hire someone who is. There are some great facilitators and organizations that I could recommend to you.

Legitimate Team Building Exercises are Purpose-Driven.

There is a purpose behind each and every effective team building activity, whether it is an icebreaker, a group challenge or initiative, or a ropes course element. Look at your goals and what purpose will drive each activity. Could “having fun” be a purpose? Sure. But, hopefully it’s not the only one. There are numerous purposes that can be obtained from each activity. Focus on the ones that your team needs the most.

Top-notch Team Building Activities are Results-Focused.

No leader or manager wants to go through a half-day or day-long event and feel like time has been wasted and nothing has been achieved. Top-notch team building companies will focus on results during the day, but also be able to achieve longer-lasting results.

Some facilitators require follow-up sessions as part of their team building packages. Why? Part of it is for sustainability. These coaching sessions can help sustain the work that was done during a day or two and keep teams accountable to maintaining results.

Powerful Team Building Activities are Situation-Specific.

Some companies and facilitators have one-size-fits-all programs that are pre-packaged and confine teams to a specific structure. If these kinds of programs fit your goals, that’s fine. What if they don’t? What if you’re looking to reach Goal A, and they address Goal B (or C or Z?)

The best team building programs are customized to your team and require a bit of both front-end work, lots of work and ability to adjust on the fly during the program, and back-end follow up. Don’t let anyone tell you that the one-size-fits-all process works for everyone (not even those hats fit every one – much less when you’re dealing with a whole team!) 🙂

What other characteristics define an effective team building program? What have you observed in programs in which you’ve participated?