Tired of boring meetings where people aren’t engaged? Start meetings with a 3 minute warm-up game. Warm-up games require everyone’s complete attention and improve Collaboration, Creativity, Communication and Trust. These qualities are the core components we want to build into our teams. When a Team plays these warm-up games together they will remove obstacles to team success.
Warm-up Game Legend:
= Concentration & Focus
= Imagination & Creativity
= Listening & Communication
= Newcomer Friendly
= Trust & Collaboration
Most warm-up games can be played using two different player orderings:
- List based: Player order is determined by a list that everyone can see.
- Player based: Probably more interesting is to have each player call upon the next player. This has the advantage of keeping players engaged.
Warm-up Game alphabet, without the trickiest letters:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W Y
Team First Development Warm-Up Game Suggestions:
The leader starts by throwing out the first half of a sentence. Each subsequent person provides the last half to the sentence they just heard and the first half of another sentence. This is done while trying to tell a story or hold a conversation. Say the word “period” so everyone can follow the flow. Here’s an example:
Player 1: Once upon a time
2: there was a bear, period. She lived
3: in the woods with some other bears, period. They had
4: an abandoned cabin, period. It was
5: on a lake, period. One day the bears decided
6: to drive a car into town. The townspeople … and so on
Call out ‘A’ and the first name of a person. That person now calls out ‘B’ and the name of another person, and so on. Attempt to call on everyone roughly the same number of times. Move quickly.
Each person starts their sentence with the next letter of the alphabet. Attempt to carry on a conversation or tell a story.
Many of these games are played with the alphabet where the players use the next last in the alphabet during their turn. For example when playing the game Observational Memory and the leader picks the Name category play might proceed: Alan, Betty, Craig, Doug, Elizabeth because the alphabet was ABCDE. To make life more interesting the leader can pick a different alphabet. Let’s say the leader picks numbers. Then the alphabet is: OTTF… for One, Two, Three, Four and so on. Assuming the game was still Observation Memory and the category was Names, play might continue: Otto, Tony, Tammy, Frank. Some interesting alphabets:
OTTFFSSENTETTFFSSENT – Numbers 1 to 20.
JFMAMJJASOND – Months of the year.
MTWTFSS – Days of the week, short so repeat when at the end.
Have fun with it and have your team come up with their own alphabet.
— Submitted by Michele McMurtray
Each person uses the next letter of the alphabet and fills in the phrase ____ sells ____ in ____. e.g. Alice sells Apples in Algeria. This can be done with calling on the next person in order to improve focus. This is also true for many of the Warm-ups.
The first person comes up with a simple and short sentence. Each successive person repeats the sentence, adding another detail. The progression could go something like this: “There’s a car.” “There’s a red car.” “There’s a red sports car.” “There’s a red sports car on fire.” The game goes until the sentence gets too long for people to repeat, at which time a new sentence must be thrown out.
Pass control by calling out a first name with ‘Buddy’ or ‘Friend’ either before or after it.
The leader finds a stock photo and displays it. Each player in turn makes up a caption for the photo.
— Submitted by Matt Orenstein
Leader says “Greg, red ball”. Then Greg names someone else followed by “red ball”. After the red ball is correctly passing around the phone or room the leader adds another colored ball. People should avoid changing the color of the balls. Allow anyone to recover a color that gets lost. Say ‘Repeat’ if you hear your name, but don’t hear the color.
Turn to the person that will follow you and pay them a Compliment. Perhaps something you like about them as a person or some quality that you admire.
Variation: Compliment the person that preceded you. This is also interesting when player order determined by the players rather than list based.
Leader tosses out a word. Next person turns it into a compound word, e.g. Buzz, buzz saw, saw blade, blade runner. So the goal is to use the second word of the previous person as your first word. When stuck feel free to use either of the previous person’s words. Also, feel free to use them for either your first or second word. So if the person before you said blade runner and you can’t come up with a compound word that starts with runner, these are all good: base runner, knife blade or razor blade. Notice we use a very liberal definition of compound word.
— Submitted by Frank Albenesius
Anyone starts by saying 1. Someone else says 2 and so on. If two people speak at the same time everyone says “awwww” and the team starts back at 1. This is difficult but very rewarding when you finally get to 20.
Leader asks next person for a list of 5 things e.g. sports teams, movies, made up words. Everyone yells yes after each one. When person finishes they ask the next person for a list of 5 things. This can be a list of things you would find somewhere, a list of things you would say if or a list of things you might do if. e.g. Give me a list of 5 types of trees.
Variation: Use some other number than 5.
Variation: Rather than yell Yes, the group repeats the word that was said.
The first person starts a story with the word fortunately. The next person continues the thought but their first word is unfortunately, then fortunately, and so on like this:
Fortunately, I found a magic lamp.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a magic genie inside.
Fortunately, it was gold.
Unfortunately, it was just gold plated.
Everyone puts their hands together. One word at a time you build up a wise saying that could be found on a fortune cookie. When someone feels it’s finished, everyone bows and say yes, yes, yes, yes. Over phone have leader type the phrase so everyone can see it.
The first person says a random word. Each subsequent person tries to say a word that has some connection to the previous word. Everyone must listen for when the topic changes. If someone is stuck they should toss out any random word.
Leader calls out the number 1 and each following person adds 1 to the count with the following exceptions:
Say Fuzzy if your number is divisible by 3 or if it ends in 3.
Say Ducky if your number is divisible by 7 or if it ends in 7.
Say Fuzzy Ducky if both of the above are true.
A person makes up a word and asks the next person for the definition of the word. The next person repeats the word and then provides a definition, then they make up a word and asks another person to define it.
First person says “Here’s some good advice” and then gives some good advice. The next person says “Here’s some advice” and gives really bad advice. Next person alternates back to good advice.
Each person tells the team about one of their hobbies. Explain why you love it, how you became interested in it, or something most people don’t know about it.
Each person describes something they invented in their secret laboratory late last night.
Each person checks their cell phone and describes the last picture they took.
— Submitted by Rick Reinacher
Just like Free Association except instead of naming the first word you think of upon hearing the previous word, you name the first word you think of starting with the last letter of the previous word. The association can be very loose or even non-existent. If you can make a connection to the previous word all the better, but its not required. If the first person says Duck, then the next might say Kangaroo in keeping with animals, but also fine is Kite, Kitchen or any other word starting with a K.
Similar to Alphabet Conversation, but each player begins their statement with a word that starts with the last letter of the previous person’s statement.
Each person answers just one of these questions, preferably the first one.
What’s the last song that played on your cell phone?
What’s the last song you heard on the radio?
What’s your favorite song?
— Submitted by Rick Reinacher
Each person creates and describes a new mascot for a sports team. Fictional teams are fine. After all you are being creative.
Two people face each other (or are adjacent on the phone list). The Leader quickly counts 1, 2, 3 and on the next beat the 2 people each say a random word. Leader should repeat or type the words as they are hard to hear since both people spoke them at the same time. Then one of them turns to the next person, leader does the count and on the silent 4 beat they each toss out a word that could unite or meld the last two words spoken. Massive celebration when two people say the same word. In fact take the rest of the day off as this is difficult.
Each person uses the next letter of the alphabet and fills in the phrase “The Minister’s cat is a ____ cat”, where blank is replaced with an adjective.
Start by having everyone say their first and last names. Then call out someone’s first and last name from the group. Then they call out another persons name. Don’t call the person that called on you. Go as quickly as possible.
Just like Free Association except instead of naming the first word you think of upon hearing the previous word, you name the first word you think of starting with the next letter in the alphabet. The association can be very loose or even non-existent. If you can make a connection to the previous word all the better, but its not required. If the first person says Carpenter, then the next might say Doctor in keeping with occupations, but also fine is Dove, Donut or any other word starting with a D.
Leader picks a category like: Animals, Movies, Names, Cities/States or Occupations. If the leader picked Animals they might start with Cougar, using the letter C. The next person might say Deer using the letter D. Each person uses the next letter of the alphabet for their item.
The 1st person says “One duck”.
2nd person says “fell in”.
3rd says “the pond”.
4th says “kerplunk”.
Next person starts the phrase over but since this is the 2nd time through 2 people say each part.
5th person says “One duck”.
6th says “One duck”.
7th says “fell in”.
8th says “fell in”.
9th says “the pond”.
10th says “the pond”.
11th says “kerplunk”.
12th says “kerplunk”.
Now since it’s the 3rd time through 13th to 15th say “One duck”.
16th to 18th say “fell in”.
19th to 21st say “the pond”.
22nd to 24th say “kerplunk”.
And so on. This will always get messed up and when it does we all say “awwww” and start back at the beginning.
The 1st person says “1 frog”.
2nd person says “2 eyes”.
3rd says “4 legs”.
4th says “kerplunk”.
Next person starts the phrase over but since this is the 2nd time through all the numbers are increased so 5th person says “2 frogs”.
6th says “4 eyes”.
7th says “8 legs”.
8th says “kerplunk”.
9th also says “kerplunk” since we had 2 frogs.
10th says “3 frogs”.
11th says “6 eyes”.
12th says “12 legs”.
13th to 15th say “kerplunk”.
Continue with 4 frogs and 4 kerplunks at the end of the phrase.
This will always get messed up and when it does we all say “awwww” and start back at the beginning.
Start at 1. In turn each player adds 1 to the total. Time how long it takes the team to get to 100. Time it for when you play it again.
Each person in turn adds one word to a story. Feel free to use a period or other punctuation mark in place of a word. Over phone have leader type the phrase so everyone can see it.
Each person in turn has something fall out of the sky and into their hands. Have them describe it to the team.
Describe something you did over the weekend.
Each person in turn adds detail to a scene or picture. Here’s an example:
A car is parked on Main Street.
The car is a 1985 Chevy Nova.
The Nova is lime green with rust behind the rear tires.
Inside the car is an old newspaper and a half eaten apple.
The glove box is open and empty.
The Nova has a flat right front tire.
Rain is falling gently.
A man in a raincoat sits on the curb looking at his broken car.
Leader tosses out a sentence. The next person must create a sentence where the last word rhymes with the last word of the previous sentence. If someone can’t find a rhyme they just create a new sentence. Leader should start with an easy to rhyme word. Over phone have leader type the phrase or at least the last word so everyone can see it.
Each person hands the next person a gift. Receiver is excited about receiving the gift and then describes it to the team.
This could be played every day forever. The leader asks a question and everyone answers in turn. This could be:
What is something in your car that is interesting or unusual?
What’s the oldest thing in your refrigerator?
How would you blow $200 or maybe $20,000 by the end of the day without paying off debts?
What is your dream vacation?
What is your favorite sports memory?
What is your favorite holiday and why?
What activity would you like to try, but something prevents you from diving in? Maybe money, time or fear.
What is something interesting or unusual on your desk or in your workspace? Describe it.
The first person comes up with the last line of a story. Each successive person says a sentence that would precede the previous sentence. The progression could go something like this:
“Jill happily left the hospital.”
“Doctor Smith looked over her x-rays and said nothing was broken.”
“Jill was wheeled back to her room.”
“X-rays were taken.”
“Jill saw a very tired intern and explained what happened.”
“Jill’s friend Sally drove her to the hospital.”
“A skateboarder got wild and ran into his Aunt Jill.”
— Submitted by Michele McMurtray
The idea of this game is to describe a Rube Goldberg Machine (machine that is deliberately over-engineered or overdone to perform a very simple task in a very complicated fashion) one player at a time. The last person has the enviable position of describing the final outcome which should be something relatively mundane. Here’s an example:
“I roll a ball down a ramp.”
“The ball knocks into a stack of dominoes.”
“The dominoes fall and flip a switch.”
“Flipping the switch pops a balloon.”
“The popping sound scares a cat.”
Last player wraps it up: “My answering machine starts playing.”
— Submitted by Matt Orenstein
Each person starts with “I heard a rumor that …” and fills in the details. The crazier the better.
Leader creates a sentence that starts a story or conversation. Each subsequent person repeats exactly what the previous person said. Then they say a sentence of their own to continue the conversation or story.
Each player in turn adds a sentence to a children’s story. Each sentence must include a made-up word that Dr. Seuss would be proud of (e.g. “capdabbler”) or a rhyme (or both if that’s the place you wish to go).
— Submitted by Matt Orenstein
Each person shares something about themselves that most people don’t know. Perhaps something that makes them vulnerable. Obviously, these things don’t leave this group. You are first and foremost a team. Don’t share anything that you don’t want to.
Leader will introduce the game as they see fit to “center” the group. The game consists of 3 minutes of silence. No texting,
IM’ing, emailing or talking. Leader may want to post a slide that says Shhhh… For late comers.
Example of Leader Intro: Work has been very hectic lately. This may be the only 3
minutes in the day where you can do absolutely nothing. During the next 3 minutes –
close your eyes, take your hands off the keyboard and let your mind go to a calm and
— Submitted by Michele McMurtray
Each person sings a line or two of a song they know. If you are a bad singer go ahead and be very bad. The leader should start and be scary bad. That makes everyone willing to take this leap.
Each person tells the team about something they love or enjoy.
Leader picks a common letter. Each person in turn quickly continues a story without using the specified letter. When that letter is used we all say “awwww” and the next person picks it up. Attempt to go quickly. Failing is fine, in fact fail fast.
Each person makes up a superhero name and describes their special power.
Leader picks a category like: movies, TV shows, sports teams. Everyone and the same time starts naming things that fit the category. Long phrases are good, so use Boston Red Sox rather than Red Sox. The moment that 2 people are talking and the same time the 2nd person should yield. The person that yields must eventually get their idea in later. This is about giving up control. To win you all need to talk. Try to have as little silence as possible.
Each person adds two words to a story. Feel free to use a period or other punctuation mark in place of a word. When people are on the phone have the leader type the phrase so everyone can see it.
Leader tosses out a single word. The next person says a single word that rhymes with the last word. If someone can’t find a rhyme they just toss out a new word. Leader should start with an easy to rhyme word. When people are on the phone have the leader type the words so everyone can see it.
This Warm-up is the basis of all of Improv. The leader starts off with a statement. Each subsequent person responds with “Yes And” followed by a sentence that builds upon something the previous person said. You could play this same Warm-up every day forever and still get something out of it. This is used to teach people to build upon the ideas of others rather than crushing ideas into dust.
Each person proposes something. This can be anything. Everyone supports this by saying, “Yes, Let’s!”. Anything goes as we support each other. Next person proposes something else to do. Play may proceed:
Let’s build a rainbow!
Let’s rob a bank!
Let’s feed the world!
Let’s call a world leader!
Use a circle or a list of names on the phone. This works best when the entire team is either on the phone or in the same room. The leader starts with “Zip” sending the control moving to an adjacent person. The 3 words that move the control are:
Zip – Control moves in its current direction.
Bonk – Control reverses direction.
Skipo – Skips a single person.