Secret Mimic

A fun communication exercise to put a new perspective on teamwork and the interpretation of a simple message.


Also fun to do in a virtual meeting
Pass on the secret mimic by calling a name – you must not look at the screen until your name is called

Before you begin:

  • Choose a Captain
  • Start the video
  • Be ready to turn off the video screen

How many

2-16 pers.




5-10 min.


Question for reflection

How did your Secret Mimic go, and how can this transfer in to a work situation? (click for our answer)

Our answer: 

Secret Mimic is a communication exercise that will show you just how different a simple message can be interpreted from person to person. Each person will add some meaning into the message that will affect the way the message is perceived and communicated. The same goes more or less for verbal and written message – there is always room for interpretation. 

Good communication takes practice and is key to improve group performance. 

Practicing communication exercises will make your team more likely to navigate within a common language. This will reduce conflict as well as generate a greater cohesion and commitment among your team members.

Interested in the science behind teambuilding activities?

– Head of research Rasmus Friis explains

Why do it?

  • Greater interpersonal relations

  • Improved communication and team synergy

  • Increased productivity and problem solving

The science

Teambuilding exercises incorporate one or more of four focuses: goal setting, interpersonal relations, role clarification, or problem-solving. 

Studies have shown that teambuilding exercises are effective for improving affective outcomes (e.g. trust, confidence, cohesion, psychological safety, and collective efficacy) and process outcomes (e.g. coordination, communication, and adaptability). 

The goal setting approach improves the ability to identify, set and achieve individual and team objectives. Teambuilding exercises focusing on interpersonal relations increases teamwork processes and social parameters, such as mutual supportiveness, communication, and the development of team affect. Role clarification improves communication among team members in terms of their respective roles as a part of the team.

The problem-solving approach subsumes aspects of all the above. This type of intervention promotes team synergy through encouraging team members to practice setting goals, developing interpersonal relations, clarifying team roles, and working to improve organizational characteristics through participating in problem-solving tasks.

Take-home message

  • A fundamental principle of team building is that it is a process, not an event. To achieve a lasting effect team building exercises must be a regular part of your working day.
  • Team building has an inherent multifaceted approach, which emphasizes the importance of having a clear focus for implementing the team building exercise.

Bedtime reading if you are a nerd like us

Shuffler, M. L., Diazgranados, D., Maynard, M. T., & Salas, E. (2018). Developing, Sustaining, and Maximizing Team Effectiveness: An Integrative, Dynamic Perspective of Team Development Interventions. The Academy of Management annals, pp. 688-724.

Dyer Gibb Jr., W. (2015). Volume 11. Organizational Behavior: Team Building. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.