The World of Work Project

Find Your Partner (Icebreaker Activity)

Find your partner is an ice-breaking activity that works well in medium sized groups. It involves sticking pictures to individuals’ backs and having them find their “partner” by asking only yes or no questions about the images on their own backs.

Summary by The World of Work Project
Left and right gloves could be good pictures to use in this activity.

Find your partner ice-breaking activity

This ice-breaker activity works well in medium to large sized groups where you have a bit of space and everyone is mobile.

In preparation for the session the facilitator comes up with list of easily paired items and finds and print a small picture of each of them. These could include things like “Micky Mouse” and “Mini Mouse”, “Horse” and Carriage”, “Batman” and “Robin”, etc.

The facilitator needs to ensure there are enough pictures so that every participant can have one. The facilitator also needs to ensure there are an even number of participants for the activity. If there are not, then the facilitator also needs to play.

How the Activity Works

The activity starts when participants enter the room. On entry, each participant has one of the pictures stuck to their back and is told not to discuss the pictures with anyone in the room.

Once all of the participants are in the room, the facilitator can explain the rules then start the activity.

The activity is quite simple in theory, though not always simple in practice. The participants have two objectives:

  1. They need to discover what the picture on their own back is, and
  2. With that knowledge they need to identify and pair up with the individual who has their partner image.

The trick is that the participants, obviously, cannot move their own pictures and the are only allowed to ask yes and no questions about their picture to discover what it is.

The way this activity usually works in practice is that the participants find someone to speak to, show them their image, then ask them a series of yes no questions until they guess correctly what their image is.

In some instances participants might get part way through guessing their picture with one partner, then move on to another. Ideally, a fair bit of circulation takes place. It’s possible to ensure this by modifying the rules to say that participants can only ask one question of each person that they speak to.

The activity ends once everyone taking part in the activity has found their partner.

Learning More

Team building and ice-breaking activities are very important. They help build trust in teams and help progress team maturity. They can also reduce the risks of social threat and improve interpersonal awareness.

Being able to deliver them is a helpful facilitation and meeting skill. A few specific activities we’ve written about include: Weekend Chairs, Birthday Ordering, Vegetable Introductions, Two Truths and a Lie, and the Questions Cocktail Party.

Laughter and play are also great ways to help build a team. You can learn more about how playfulness helps teams in our podcast on the subject:

The World of Work Project View

This activity takes a bit of preparation, but works well for medium sized groups. It can be particularly helpful where you need pairs for later activities, or when you want to focus on topics like communication.

The activity needs to have at least 20 participants to work at its best. It also needs to be explained by facilitators and the identified picture pairs need to be known and easily understood by everyone taking part in the group.

Overall, we like this activity and think it’s a nice way to start certain days.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

The contents of this post have been based on our own experience in the world of work, so no specific references are provided.

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