Work in progress

Art of Hosting: Bag of Treats

Ice Breakers Links Tips Facilitation kit How to prepare

Ice-breakers and various Activities

(but do you need one ?)
(sometimes, clicking on the activity will give more info :-)
  • Coin Logo [5-10 minutes]

    Begin by asking all participants to empty their pockets, purses, and wallets of any coins they may have and place them on the table in front of them. If someone doesn't have any coins or only has very few, others in the room can share their coins with them. Instruct each person to create their own personal logo using the coins in front of them in just one minute. Other materials they may have on them, such as pens, notebooks, wallets, etc. can also be used in creation of the logo. If there is a particularly large group, people can be broken up into teams of 3-6 people and instructed to create a logo that represents them as a team or the whole room can gather to use the coins to create a logo for the organization/group/department/etc. Each solitary participant can explain their logo to the group or if the room was split into groups, the leader can have each group discuss what led to the team logo and what it says about them. Not only does this activity promote self and mutual awareness, but it also enables participants to get to know each other on a more personal level.

  • Sneak a Peek Game [10 minutes]

    This problem solving activity requires little more than a couple of sets of children's building blocks. The instructor will build a small sculpture with some of the building blocks and hide it from the group. The participants should then be divided into small teams of four. Each team should be given enough building material so that they can duplicate the structure you've already created. The instructor should then place their sculpture in an area that is an equal distance from all the groups. One member from each team can come up at the same time to look at the sculpture for ten seconds and try to memorize it before returning to their team. After they return to their teams, they have twenty-five seconds to instruct their teams about how to build an exact replica of the instructor's sculpture. After one minute of trying to recreate the sculpture, another member from each team can come up for a "sneak a peek" before returning to their team and trying to recreate the sculpture. The game should be continued in this pattern until one of the team's successfully duplicates the original sculpture. This game will teach participants how to problem solve in a group and communicate effectively.

  • Classification Game [10-15 minutes]

    The classification game can be a quick icebreaker or a more complex activity. For the purposes of this example, we will treat this activity as a quick icebreaker. Before splitting the room into teams of four, explain the concept of "pigeon-holing someone," which means classifying someone as something or stereotyping someone. It should be made clear that this type of classification is subjective and unhelpfully judgmental. Instruct the participants to introduce themselves to those in their team and quickly discuss some of their likes, dislikes, etc. After the introductions, reveal to the teams that it will be their job to discover how they should classify themselves- as a team- into two or three subgroups by using criteria that contains no negative, prejudicial, or discriminatory judgments. Examples of these subgroups can include night owls and morning people, pineapple pizza lovers and sushi lovers, etc. This activity encourages coworkers to get to know each other better and enables them to collectively consider the nature of all individuals within the team.

  • The One Question Ice Breaker Activity [15-20 minutes]

    This icebreaker not only gets coworkers talking to each other, but it also gets them working with one another. It's quite simple: the leader gets to decide the situation the question will pertain to. Example situations include babysitting, leading the company, or being married. After pairing participants into teams, the leader will pose this question: If you could ask just one question to discover a person's suitability for (insert topic here), what would your question be? Say the leader chose to go with a marriage situation. That means each person in a two-person team would come up with one question that would help them discover whether or not their partner was suitable to be married to them. If the topic was babysitting, each team member would have to come up with just one question whose answer would help them determine whether or not the person was suitable to babysit their child. This icebreaking activity can also get mixed up by issuing one situation for the entire group or allocating a different situation to each team member or pair to work on. Depending on the situation chosen, the activity can be very fun, but it can also demonstrate that crucial questions should be developed properly.

  • Two Truths and a Lie [15-30 minutes]

    Start out by having every team member secretly write down two truths about themselves and one lie on a small piece of paper - Do not reveal to anyone what you wrote down! Once each person has completed this step, allow 10-15 minutes for open conversation - much like a cocktail party - where everyone quizzes each other on their three questions. The idea is to convince others that your lie is actually a truth, while on the other hand, you try to guess other people's truths/lies by asking them questions. Don't reveal your truths or lie to anyone - even if the majority of the office already has it figured out! After the conversational period, gather in a circle and one by one repeat each one of your three statements and have the group vote on which one they think is the lie. You can play this game competitively and award points for each lie you guess or for stumping other players on your own lie. This game helps to encourage better communication in the office, as well as it lets you get to know your coworkers better.

  • Life Highlights Game [30 minutes]

    Perfect for small and large groups alike. Begin by asking each participant to close their eyes for one minute and consider the best moments of their lives. This can include moments they've had alone, they've shared with family or friends; these moments can pertain to professional successes, personal revelations, or exciting life adventures. After the participants have had a moment to run through highlights of their lives, inform them that their search for highlights is about to be narrowed. Keeping their eyes closed, ask each participant to take a moment to decide what 30 seconds of their life they would want to relive if they only had thirty seconds left in their life. The first part of the activity enables participants to reflect back on their lives, while the second part enables them to get to know their coworkers on a more intimate level. The second portion of the game is the "review" section. The leader of the activity will ask each and every participant what their 30 seconds entailed and why they chose it, which will allow participants to get a feel for each other's passions, loves, and personalities.

  • Picture Pieces Game [30 minutes]

    This problem solving activity requires that the leader choose a well known picture or cartoon that is full of detail. The picture needs to be cut into as many equal squares as there are participants in the activity. Each participant should be given a piece of the "puzzle" and instructed to create an exact copy of their piece of the puzzle five times bigger than its original size. They are posed with the problem of not knowing why or how their own work affects the larger picture. The leader can pass out pencils, markers, paper, and rulers in order to make the process simpler and run more smoothly. When all the participants have completed their enlargements, ask them to assemble their pieces into a giant copy of the original picture on a table. This problem solving activity will teach participants how to work in a team and it demonstrates divisionalized ‘departmental' working, which is the understanding that each person working on their own part contributes to an overall group result.

  • Zoom [30 minutes]

    This problem solving activity requires the wordless, picture book entitled, "Zoom" by Istvan Banyai. This book features 30 sequential pictures that work together to form a narrative. The book should be fairly easy to find, as it's been published in over 18 countries. The pictures can even be laminated to prolong their usage. Hand out one picture to each participant, making sure a continuous sequence is being used. Explain to the participants that they can only look at their own pictures and must keep their picture hidden from other participants. Time should be given for the participants to study their pictures because each picture will contain important information that will help the participants solve the problem of putting them into order. The ultimate goal is for the group to place the pictures in sequential order without looking at one another's pictures. The participants can talk to each other and discuss what is featured in their picture. This activity brings coworkers together and gets them communicating with the common goal of solving a problem, but it also allows for leaders to emerge and take control of the task.

  • The Great Egg Drop [2 hours]

    This messy, yet classic and engaging problem solving activity requires splitting the room into two large groups with the task of building an egg package that can sustain an eight foot drop. A variety of tools and other materials should be provided to the teams. After the packages have been built, each team must also present a 30-second advert for their package, highlighting why it's unique and how it works. At the conclusion of the presentations, each group will have to drop their egg using their package to see if it really works. Aside from teaching the groups to work together and communicate, it also brings them together with the common goal of both winning the egg drop and successfully creating an egg package.

  • Hollow Square [2-3 hours]

    PURPOSE: To participate in a problem-solving situation in which you can observe leadership functions. You can see: The processes of group planning,The problems of communication between a planning group and an implementing (Operating) group and The problems with which an implementing group must cope when carrying out a plan it did not make itself. All of these require effective leadership behavior. Thus, the specific objectives for this exercise are to provide a problem-solving task in which you can observe leadership behavior, to increase your awareness of the problems involved in using a formal hierarchy in group problem solving, and to give you practice in observing groups and in giving the group feedback on your observations. See also: [Explanation | Group instructions | Harvesting sheet ForceFiled ]

  • A Truth and Lie

    This is an exercise where the team members introduce themselves with their names. Along with the names, they also state one truth and one lie about themselves. The main objective about this game is to convince others about the lie you said, and at the same time, try to find out the lies that others have said. It is an activity that enhances communication within a team.

  • Poker Tower

    The idea behind Poker Tower is to motivate creativity within a team and simultaneously create a bonding among the team members. Each group is given a packet of poker cards along with a scissor. They are made to create a tower as tall as possible with the resources they have.

  • Group Painting Activity for Adults

    One of the many fun team building activities is a group painting activity for adults.For example, team members will paint such pictures that tell a story when put together. This way, they learn to handle a job while cooperating with everyone.

  • Helium Stick

    This sounds like a pretty simple indoor team building game. However, though it might be simple, it focuses on things like working in a team and communicating within a small or mid-sized group. In this game there is a helium stick and the employees are asked to keep their index fingers on the stick in such a way that all their fingers are on the same level.

  • Mine Field

    Mine Field, for ages, has been a popular corporate team building activity. The exercise concentrates on trust and relationship building in a team. You can have this game both indoors as well as outdoors. In this game, people are made to play in pairs, whereby one of them is blindfolded and has to act as per the instructions given by the one who can see.

  • Salt and Pepper

    It is quite an interesting team building activity for mid-sized to bigger groups. It is preferable to have this game with an even number of people. The basic aim of this game is to teach employees ways to ask the right questions. During the game, everyone asks 'yes' or 'no' questions and finally, when they are able to find the pair that's most suitable, they learn certain things about each other.

  • Talking in Circles

    This is one of the popular corporate team building activities that have daring feats involved. This activity is preferred by a team that loves challenges. In this game, team members need to form different shapes with a circular rope. They need to do it with their eyes closed. This is an exemplary exercise whereby team members pick up the skill to listen and communicate in a clear tone.

  • Name and adjective

    Give your name and an adjective that describes yourself BUT it has to start with the same letter as your name.

  • Bingo

    Have people who know the groupe prepare a series of question concerning people from the group. Distribute sheets. people have to fill (ie: who has a pilot licence ? who climb the Kilimanjaro? etc.)

  • A day in the life

    pdf here

  • Shared Values

    pdf here

  • Washing machine

    pdf here

  • 30 more activities sorted

    Project of How

  • 64 more activities sorted

    Hyper Island


Communities of Practice:               

Collaborative environment
  • Dotmocracy
    Dotmocracy is a transparent, equal opportunity, and participatory large group decision-making tool.
    Seems promising, but not fully tested. Website has great templates for harvesting sheets..

Tips (To be developed section)

For each activity, make sure you explain:
  • Context
  • Equipment
  • Timing
  • Sharing

  • Impact
  • Need
  • Timing
  • Range
  • Objectives

  • Unconsciously Incompetent
  • Consciously Incompetent
  • Consciously Competent
  • Unconsciously Competent

Facilitation kit

You may want to make yourself a facilitation kit. The minimum to survive is:
  • paper : both simple paper sheet, bigger sheets flipchart style, and smaller / cardboard style
  • pens: a set of color markers (sharpie type) for you to make a mindmap, and about 10 big black/green/red/blue markers fort the participants
  • a couple of rolls of masking tape
  • a pair of scissors
Nice to have:
  • name tags
  • adhesive dots for voting
  • big post it - several colors
  • a bag / suitcase / case to store/transport it
  • Creativity cards
If you have a bit of money to invest (say £20-£30), a sticky wall is always handy. I got mine from (3 metres). You can get 5 metres here. You can also make your own using nylon fabric.
You will also need a can of Adhesive Repositionable Spray. Look for Pattex or 3M. Price vary widely and wildly, from €11 (Castorama, pattex) to €45 (3m,, so keep your eyes open!

Other ideas to make your own facilitation kit:
You can also buy one online (more expensive):

How to prepare ?

This is always a favorite of OST theme, so i'll repeat a couple of things:
  • Know the purpose
  • Never work alone
That's it. Sounds simple, right ?
Well it isn't. I could give you dozens of examples where even inside the host group we didn't have clarity about the purpose. I remember fierce discussions with co-hosts after interviewing some of the actors in preparation for the seminar, where obviously their wishes were contradictory to what our client wanted. I remember walking out of a project because the caller changed the scope and the purpose at the last minute.
Sounds bad ? Well it is. It is part of my rules.
If we don't agree on what we are doing this for, there is no point doing it. Period.
On most of the rest (except harvesting), i'm quite easy-going :-)

Once you have a clarity on the purpose, the "how to get there" will fall in place pretty much by itself with a back-and-forth check on the constraints (or not ?).
Some tips on meeting facilitation.
An event is usually hosted by a team. I'm lucky because I usually work with big team (4-8 people). It is great, but it requires a higher degree of organisation. And of course, we don't all live in the same place (or in the same countries for that matter).
Over time, I have put together a list of tools which are useful to enable collaborative work in those conditions.
Typically I set up the mindmap first and invite the members of the team. We use it to jot down ideas, in our own time or all together while we do a collective call. Here is my checklist. None of those is essential, all are useful.

Disclaimer: I'm a computer scientist. I manage several internet domains. I can create a website with a wiki and dedicated mailing list in a matter of minutes. I understand not everybody can do that, but it is no reason not to list the ressources here as well :-).

This is not an endorsement of any of the products. Batteries not included. Your mileage may vary. Pictures not contractual. Some assembly required. etc.

Cheap written Communication Lino it is a post-it board. public or with groups. Simple as a post-it. Not really documents, not really wiki. Impossible to classify, but super-easy. Free registration.
Trello is similar, and so are Padlet and Co-Sketch
Zouch is a cool todo with attribution - test it ! free, no registration.
Cheap oral communication
  1. Physical meeting
  2. Free video conference
  3. FriendCallers
  4. Skype
  5. TogetherJS
  1. Don't forget :-)
  2. needs a recent browser; up to 8 people
  3. Friendcallers runs in any browser in a vpn (ie: not detected)
  4. Skype needs to be installed (you need admin rights ) and uses a specific protocol which is not allowed in some workplaces.
  5. You can install TogetherJS[chat] yourself
Common MindmapRather than circulate files. Requires a free account.
Common documents Rather than circulate files. Require a free account.
Ether Pad is the software that provides real time editor for up to 15 people.
TitanPad and EduPad are free online implementation of it.
Web hosted collaborative environment
  1. Asana
  2. Azendoo
  3. TeamBox
  4. Cozi
  5. Podio
  6. Viewpath /
  7. Scrawlar
  8. Simple Surface
  9. Wiggio
  10. Zoho
  11. Vyew
  12. Twiddla
  1. Very lightweigth task/Project management - free up to 15
  2. Very lightweigth task/Project management - free
  3. Free up to 5 people
  4. More for family life, but works great
  5. Lightweigth Project management - free registration
  6. Lightweigth Project management - free registration - up to 5
  7. Originally for a class to work on docs
  8. Shared board
  9. to-do, mail, calendar
  10. Collaborative writing
  11. Visual Workspace, doc sharing, etc
  12. Visual Workspace, doc sharing, etc
Collaborative environment
  • La totale / the full monty - of course also free
  • Collaborative book writing - source to install
Wiki Tiddly is a one-file wiki. Just upload the html file to your private website, and off you go.
PMWiki is much more complete and powerfull, but requires a bit longer to install and customize.
Project managementCollabtive is limited in the free version, but probably more than enough.
ProjeQTor is more complete, but takes longer to install
ProjectForge is VERY complete, but harder to customize.(java bundle avail.)
  • Simplest to-do list. no registration, share by url
  • Create and manage a todo-list by email
  • Instant website by mail - Fantastic to share harvest.
  • Easy shared storage / board for harvest