Ice Breaker Exercise: Vertical Visual

When you gather your group together for team building, each person comes with a different set of experiences and expectations.

This ice breaker exercise gets your team members on the same page in a short time by letting them create a quick visual of the differences of the team. It is simple and fun, allowing each person to participate immediately by opening up discussion right away. You can expect surprise, laughter, and bantering. The exercise sets the tone for a fruitful session.

It is especially helpful to use with groups that are cautious, controlled, have experienced tension, are suspicious of the team building process, are new to team building – or if you simply want to break the ice.

What You Need for This Exercise

  • For smaller groups (10 or less): a whiteboard or chalkboard and marking utensil
  • For larger groups (more than 10): a copy of the prepared piece of paper and pens or pencils


Vertical Visual for this icebreaker exerciseIf you are leading a small group: prepare for this exercise by drawing a vertical line on the whiteboard or chalkboard. At the top of the line, write “Get the Job Done.” At the bottom of the line, write “Enjoy the People.”

If you are leading a large group: prepare the exercise sheet and make copies to distribute to smaller groups during your training. Draw a vertical line on a piece of paper. At the top of the line, write “Get the Job Done.” At the bottom of the line, write “Enjoy the People.” Make enough copies of the exercise sheet for every 5-7 people. For example, if your training group will have 30 participants, make 5 copies.

What To Do

  1. If you are leading a small training, then the entire team can participate in this exercise together. If you are leading a larger training, ask participants to sit in groups of 5-7, preferably with their immediate team members, to do the exercise.
  2. Invite participants to look at the prepared vertical visual and consider this question: “Where do you see yourself on this line?” Ask participants to mark a spot on the line that best represents their individual approach to their work on the team. Remind participants that there is no “wrong” answer.
  3. Process the results together. Ask participants to share the following:
  • Do you see your team member in the way he sees himself?
  • What do you see right away about your team?
  • What surprises you about these results?
  • What encourages you about these results?
  • How does the idea of differences intrigue you?

This simple exercise validates the Law of Differences and provides a visual demonstration of the team’s individual task or people orientation. But more importantly, the exercise creates an atmosphere of sharing and openness for the rest of your session.

For You To Take Away

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7, ESV).

Special thanks to Donald Hintze for sharing how he uses this exercise.

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More Exercises to Help Your Team Understand Differences

Differences: Do They Divide Your Team or Unite Your Team?

Ice Breaker: 3 x 5 Card Game

Team Building Exercise: My Strengths, Your Strengths, Our Strengths