The Ultimate List of Icebreaker and Mingling Activities
Participating in a thoughtful icebreaker or mingling activity is a great way to spark conversations and connections between people, especially those who are new to each other.
This can be invaluable in situations like first days at a new job, language classes, conferences, parties and more.
Topics covered in this article:
- Icebreaker Activities
- Mingling Activities
Below are creative ideas tailored to different settings that go beyond basic introductions to get people interacting and comfortable together through lighthearted, engaging shared experiences.
Unique Icebreakers for Language Classes
Learning a foreign language can be intimidating. The following activities help students feel at ease on the first day of class while getting to know peers in a fun way.
Classroom Art Collage
- Provide colored paper, photos, magazines, scissors and glue. Have students work together to create a collage representing their classroom community. Share stories behind the different collage elements.
Foreign Language Names
- Go around and have each student introduce themselves sharing the origins and any special meaning behind their first name. What would it translate to in the language they are learning?
- Have each person share one object they would bring if stranded on a deserted island. Remind them to speak slowly and clearly. Others can ask questions about the choices.
- Students share a favorite story or fond childhood memory. Great for practicing past tense narration.
Top 5 Lists
- Have each student write a top 5 list of their favorite things – movies, foods, places to visit, etc. Take turns sharing aloud.
- On paper, have students draw images representing important people, places and things in their lives. Introduce your space visually to the class.
Adopt a New Name
- Imagine you are starting a new life with a new name. What name would you choose and why? Go around sharing adopted names and meanings.
Classroom 20 Questions
- Tape a name card on each student’s back with a famous person’s name. By asking classmates yes/no questions, deduce the name on your back.
Engaging Icebreakers for New Jobs
The following activities promote camaraderie and connections between new coworkers on the first day of work.
Company Values Mind Map
- In small groups, have new hires brainstorm words and images representing the organization’s values, mission and culture. Create a collaborative mind map to present.
Total Office Recall
- As a memory exercise, have the new employees take turns describing everything they can remember about the office layout, people’s names, and other details from orientation.
Corporate Structure Diagram
- Work together to draw the company’s organizational chart identifying the different departments and various roles. Share insights on how everything connects.
CEO for a Day
- Imagine you are the organization’s CEO for a day. What is one policy you would implement and why? Go around sharing your CEO platform.
- Share the story of how you got hired at the company. Where were you before? How did you hear about the job? Why were you interested?
Unique Business Card Exchange
- Before arriving, have each employee create a fun “business card” representing themselves with images, facts and mottos. Exchange and share the story behind your card.
If I Worked Here…
- Before you were hired, what role did you imagine yourself doing at the company? How does the real job compare to your expectations?
The Year 2030
- Fast forward to the year 2030. Where do you see yourself at the company in 2030? Share your professional visions for the future.
Hello, My Name Is…
- Play a version of the children’s name game. Go around saying your real name + a fictional job title that starts with the same letter. “Hello, I’m Susan the Stylist.” See how many people can remember!
Fun Icebreakers for Conferences and Events
Use the following activities at the start of conferences, meetings, parties and more to get attendees familiar with each other.
Claim to Fame
- Introduce yourself and share a “claim to fame” – an interesting fact that makes you stand out from the crowd. But don’t reveal your name! Let others guess your identity.
- If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 things would you want to have with you? Why did you choose those items?
Dream Dinner Party
- Which 3 people, living or dead, would you invite to your fantasy dream dinner party? Introduce your guests and why you chose them.
Unique Business Card Exchange
- As above, have each attendee create an artsy, creative business card representing themselves. Exchange cards and share the meaning and backstory.
- Have participants sketch a map of their journey here today. Where did they come from? What stops and sights did they see along the way? Compare maps.
- If you had to put items in a time capsule representing your life and work right now, what 3 things would you include? Why?
- We all have mottos we live by, even informally. Share a phrase or saying that inspires you or sums up your outlook on life.
- Go around asking each person to name one superpower they wish they could have and why.
Top 5 List
- Have each person share their personal top 5 list on a topic related to the conference theme – favorite apps, productivity strategies, leadership qualities, etc. Compare lists.
Create a Soundtrack
- If your day today could have a soundtrack, what 3 songs would be on it right now? Introduce your playlist.
Mingling Activities for Language Students
Language learners should be given frequent opportunities to speak with different peers. The following activities make conversing natural.
Find Someone Who…
- Hand out bingo-style grids with statements like “Has been to Mexico” or “Plays guitar”. Students mingle, filling in names to complete each square.
- Partners look at an image full of detail. They help each other memorize part of the picture, then turn back to back and quiz their partner’s recall.
- Prepare questions related to class topics. Split into small groups with one student leading discussion in each group. Rotate leaders and questions.
- Students walk around sharing opinions of recent movies. Try to find someone who agrees/disagrees to discuss why.
Introduce Your Partner
- Pairs interview each other about likes, accomplishments and goals. Then they introduce their partner to the class.
- Discuss an element of your culture, like a holiday or food. Then “swap” cultures with a partner and become an expert, explaining it to others from their perspective.
Solve a Mystery
- Small groups work together to “solve” a pretend mystery by gathering clues from conversations with classmates playing roles.
Take a Stand
- Read opinion statements and designate opposite sides of the room as “agree” or “disagree”. Students physically move to a side and discuss opinions with the other “team”.
Mingling Activities for New Employees
It’s important new hires establish connections beyond just their direct team. Here are some ideas to help them branch out.
- Facilitate a casual pizza lunch. Have tables designated for discussing different topics so employees can opt into conversations.
Department Speed Dating
- Set up representatives from various departments at tables. New employees go table to table to get quick overviews of each department and ask questions.
- Managers and veterans at the company can draft trivia questions testing knowledge of company history, jargon, procedures, etc. Quiz the newbies!
Collaborative Marketing Campaign
- Divide new hires into cross-functional teams. Challenge them to design a viral social media campaign that captures the essence of the company brand. Share ideas.
Networking Role Play
- Practice introducing yourself, making small talk and exchanging business cards using fictional identities and professional scenarios.
- Have new employees collect photos, documents and anecdotes that represent “A Day in the Life” at the company. Compile into a presentation to share.
- Draw a relationship map identifying how you foresee interacting with colleagues in other departments. Compare maps and share insights.
- Veteran employees provide short demos to each other on using key technology, tools, and systems. Newbies observe and engage through Q&A.
Mingling Activities for Conference Attendees
Encourage conference-goers to maximize networking opportunities with these structured interactions.
- Set up a wall where attendees can post questions and have others write responses anonymously like an advice column.
Video Capsule Questions
- Film people answering thoughtful questions related to conference topics. Screen the videos and have groups discuss.
Networking Role Play
- Practice introducing yourself and making small talk in various conference networking scenarios – at mixers, meals, lectures, vendor exhibits, etc.
- Have groups of attendees collaborate to create a scrapbook of conference highlights – sessions, speaker quotes, insights, memorable moments etc. Share.
Collaborative Mind Maps
- Have small groups draw mind maps capturing insights from specific panels or speakers. Rotate to add to other groups’ maps.
- Pairs take turns giving quick 60-second presentations sharing a concept, product, approach, etc. Rotate partners every 3 minutes.
- Assign discussion topics to different tables like key trends, critical challenges, emerging technologies, etc. Attendees can join whichever appeals and switch tables.
- Have attendees with shared interests/goals form into small panels to present and discuss topic ideas as mini expert sessions.
The activities above all aim to foster natural, memorable conversations that pave the way to building genuine connections.
Consider combining icebreakers with ongoing structured mingling for a welcoming environment where people are truly engaged with each other. What are some go-to activities you recommend?