3 Unconventional Icebreakers for Your Team Retreat


Taking the time to intentionally connect as a team is a critical part of your team retreat.  But don’t just take our word for it. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, team-building activities can increase job satisfaction levels by up to 50%. This statistic highlights the importance of incorporating structured, fun, and engaging activities into your team retreats.

But which activity do you choose? Each of our recommended exercises below has corresponding objectives, whether to spark creativity or improve communication! Start with the end result you want and choose the exercise that’s best for your team.

1. Emoji Storytelling: Creative Collaboration 👏


Unleash the Power of Emojis in Storytelling!

  • Intention: Spark creativity, imagination, and teamwork
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Ideal Group Size: 8-100
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Materials Needed: Space, paper, pens
  • Vibe: Creative, Playful, Competitive


Create emoji stories (5-8 emojis) that resonate with your team or industry. Depending on how long you want to play, design 4-8 of these stories. 

Ensure you have these stories printed or ready to display.

Ex: ⏳🌐🚀🌠🕰️🔮👽🏞️

How It Works:

  1. Participants are divided into small teams consisting of 4-5 members, preferably grouping with colleagues they do not often work with. Each team selects their favorite emoji to represent their team name. 
  2. Teams are given a timeframe of 5-7 minutes to collaboratively decipher the meaning behind each emoji story and craft a coherent story or scenario that explains the emojis. You can increase or decrease the time depending on how many emoji stories you use.
  3. Once the time is up, it's sharing time! Each team presents their interpretation of the sequences. The interpretations are compared, and the team whose story is closest to the intended answer earns a point. 
  4. The team with the most points is declared the winner and must celebrate with a victory lap around the room, ideally accompanied by a groovy tune.

2. Take 4: Drawing Out Thoughts 


Visualize Answers to Deep Dive Questions!

  • Intention: Inspire creativity, empathy, and effective communication
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Ideal Group Size: 6+
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Materials Needed: Flip chart, markers
  • Vibe: Creative, Reflective, Engaging

How It Works:

  1. In this activity, participants are instructed to divide their paper into four quadrants and then DRAW their responses to four prompts given (see below), one in each quadrant. To keep the activity focused, they are allowed to add at most a single word to each quadrant.

  2. Participants are given a brief time frame of 90-120 seconds for each drawing, emphasizing the quick-paced nature of the task and reassuring them that no art skills are required.

  3. Depending on the time available for this exercise, participants are then asked to share their answers with a partner or in a small group of four. This sharing is done methodically, with everyone presenting their first drawing before the group moves on to the second, and so on.

Choose from one of these sets of prompts, or make up your own:

Set intentions for the day…

  1. My personal weather forecast (how I’m feeling right now in weather terms)…
  2. My favorite ways to connect with other people are…
  3. One weird hobby or passion of mine that you should ask me about…
  4. Desired outcome for tonight…
Improve communication under pressure...
  1. The types of things that stress me the most at work…
  2. What I need you to understand about me when I am under stress…
  3. What I need from you when I am under stress…

3. Who Said It?: Test Your TV Trivia


A Trip Down TV Memory Lane!

  • Intention: Enhance collaboration, Breakdown walls
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Ideal Group Size: Any
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Materials Needed: Activity sheets, pens, AV system
  • Vibe: Competitive, Fun


How It Works:

1.)  Inform the participants that they will be engaging in a friendly competition to determine 'who has watched the most TV' or 'who has the best memory.' 

2.)  Encourage them to walk around the room and pair up with someone they don’t know well or are meeting for the first time. Each pair should be equipped with a pen and paper. 

3.)  The leader will then take the stage and read out each quote one at a time. As the activity progresses, the pairs will jot down their guesses about which TV show the quote is from.

4.)  At the conclusion of the session, the answers will be displayed on a screen, and each team will tally their scores to find out who emerged as the winner in this entertaining challenge.

  1. "How you doin'?" (Joey Tribbiani's trademark)
  2. "Yada, Yada, Yada" (Seinfeld)
  3. "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose" (Friday Night Lights)
  4. "Did I Do That?" (Family Matters)
  5. "XOXO" (Gossip Girl)
  6. "We've Got A Situation" (Jersey Shore)
  7. “Make It Work!" (Project Runway)
  8. "Can You Believe?" (Queer Eye)
  9. "Oh, Snap!" (That's So Raven)
  10. "Sashay Away" (RuPaul's Drag Race)
  11. “It's A No From Me, Dawg" (American Idol)
  12. "D'oh!" (The Simpsons)
  13. "It's Going To Be Legendary" (How I Met Your Mother)
  14. “That's Hot" (The Simple Life)
  15. "Live Long And Prosper" (Star Trek)
  16. "Bazinga!" (The Big Bang Theory)
  17. "I've Made A Huge Mistake" (Arrested Development)

These icebreakers are designed not just to 'break the ice', but to melt it away, creating an environment of openness, creativity, and connection. They help you set the tone for a productive and memorable team retreat. 

Remember, the goal is to make everyone comfortable and engaged, even if this is their first time meeting in person! 

Happy team building! 🌟

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