Virtual Team Building Events

Activity Description

Activity Overview

A short activity to be run early in an event aimed at sharing fears, anxieties, and uncertainties related to the event theme. The purpose is to create openness within a group. The stinky tuna is a metaphor to describe “that thing that you carry around but do not like to talk about; but the longer you hide it, the stinkier it gets.” By laying the stinky tuna (fears and anxieties) on the table, participants begin to relate to each other, become more comfortable sharing, and identify a clear area for development and learning.


  • Create openness within a group.

Running this activity online

  • Pick an online whiteboard tool that allows using a large, zoomable canvas.
  • Users can either draw their stinky tuna on paper and upload an image into the whiteboard or attach sticky notes to their individual image of the fish.
  • In the reflection step, invite users to navigate to the image of the person speaking in the whiteboard.
  • If you don’t have an online whiteboard tool, you can use Slack or Google docs to share and comment on the uploaded images.
  • If using video conferencing software alone, invite the participants to share their screen and show their digital image, or hold up their physical drawing for the entire group to see.

Materials Needed

  • Printed A4 papers with a large outline of a tuna

Step By Step Procedures

  1. Introduce the goal of the activity in your own words. Explain that the purpose is to expose and share our individual worries/concerns about the future as a way to start a conversation and begin to confront or overcome them.

    Hand out one Stinky Tuna template to each participant. Explain the meaning behind the metaphor of the Stinky Fish: “The Stinky Tuna resembles that thing that you carry around but don’t like to talk about; but the longer you hide it, the stinkier it gets. It’s a metaphor for fear or anxiety; something that will only get worse if you don’t admit its existence and deal with it.”

  2. Allow participants around 5 minutes to write down their personal stinky tuna for the context of the program.

    For instance, if the event is a Management Master Class, the stinky tuna could be about fears and anxieties associated with dealing with organizational conflict. If the event is an organizational change workshop, the stinky tuna would be about fears and anxieties related to change in your organization. Participants should write only a few words or a phrase inside the body of the tuna.

  3. Once all participants have written inside their stinky tuna, invite the group back, sit in a circle, and have each participant share their tuna with the rest of the group.

    Ask participants to share one at a time giving each 30 to 60 seconds. Continue until all participants have shared.

    Note to Facilitator 

    Optionally, put all the stinky tuna up on the wall as a kind of wall gallery. It can be useful to come back to them later in the event to refer back to some of the fears and anxieties that were brought up at the beginning.

  4. Wrap-up the exercise by thanking participants for taking part and reminding them that in the rapidly-changing world, uncertainty and worry about the future are totally normal.

    Explain that “putting tuna on the table” is a crucial first step to confronting and dealing with worries and fears. 

Stinky Tuna Ice Breaker Activity

Basic Details
Property Type : Ice Breakers
Listing Type : Placeholder
Activity Type : Ice Breakers
Focus On : Communication, Having Fun, Problem Solving
Outcome Based : No, just fun
Facilities : Indoor, Outdoor
Props Required : Minor
Duration : 26+ minutes
Exertion Level : Low
Group Size : 1 - 8, 9 - 16, 17 - 30, 31+
Age : Youth, Adults