‘Your Strengths on Your Back’ Icebreaker

The icebreaker is a great energizer, dynamic, and fun. It makes people move, and at the same time, it creates warm feelings and is very encouraging for the participants.

Time: 10-20 minutes

Your Strengths on Your Back icebreaker

‘Your Strengths on Your Back’ Icebreaker is a good fit for:

Any team event where most of the participants know each other well enough to be able to say something encouraging about others, for example, events such as:

  • Team building
  • Retrospectives
  • Workshops
  • Trainings

I like using it at the beginning of Effective Feedback training, as it very well illustrates the power and importance of positive feedback in addition to other benefits.

The benefits of ‘Your Strengths on Your’ Back Icebreaker are:

  • The participants learn to pay attention to the strengths of others and how to let them know about those strengths
  • They feel motivated and uplifted after reading what others have written to them
  • They see how important is giving positive feedback to encourage others
  • The icebreaker is a little bit chaotic, fun, and energizing!
After the initial chaos, people find ways to self-organize.


  1. Give everybody a piece of thick paper A4 (I use cardboard) and ask them to fix it on their backs with masking tape. This is usually only possible with the help of others, so collaboration starts right away.
  2. Ask them to write on the papers of others what they value most about these people and what they think are their strongest sides. I usually give it 10-15 minutes (for online option less, as no such chaos is involved).
  3. Give the participants a few minutes of calm time to read what is written on their papers. Afterwards, ask them how it feels.

Online facilitation

Just prepare an online board with spaces for everyone. It is less fun and has no benefits of physical movement, but in the end, it provides the same warm feeling and encouragement.

Facilitation tips

  • Use masking tape to fix the sheets of paper on participants’ backs; it is safe for clothes.
  • Before the exercise, ensure the paper is thick enough and the marker ink does not bleed through.
  • During the exercise, assure the participants that their clothes are safe from the tape and marker ink.


  • I have done a similar exercise in a less chaotic and more in-depth manner, which required more time both for preparation and execution.
    • I prepare templates with names, so every participant gets a set of templates with all the team members’ names except their own.
    • I also prepare envelopes with names, one for each team member.
    • After writing feedback, the participants put their filled papers in the respective person’s envelope.
    • It is not mandatory to write feedback to everybody, but people usually do their best to complete all the given templates. So be prepared that it might take a long time, up to one hour, in the case of a bigger team.
    • We usually do it at the end of the event so that people can read all the good words later. It is a very special and touching experience.
  • Another way is to create individual spaces online, for example, in Confluence, with a person’s picture and pre-made template with sections like: “What I admire about you”, “Your biggest strengths are…”, “What I have learned from you…”, “What I would like to learn from you…”, “You are my role model for..” etc., and let people fill up the sections relevant to them either synchronously (works better) or asynchronously (also ok, but people tend to forget to do it). If done in Confluence I prefer to create a separate page for each of the team members, this way it will be really their own individual space and it will be less comparison of how much feedback their peers got.

Other icebreakers for your team