Word Association

Here is our guide to online word association.

We put this guide together after improving communication and camaraderie for remote teams for over ten years.

Word association involves participants taking turns saying words that are related to a given prompt or theme. Players build upon each other’s contributions in a fast-paced and collaborative manner. This activity fosters creativity, communication, and teamwork as participants work together to explore connections between words and ideas.

Ideal group size:

4 to 12 players

Activity duration:

15 to 30 minutes



What you’ll need:

  • Video conferencing platform (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet)
  • Word association prompt generator or timer app

How to play:

Step 1: Explain the Rules

First, brief participants on the rules of the word association activity. In this game, one player says a word, and others respond with a word related to it.

Step 2: Establish Turn-Taking

You can designate a starting player and establish the order in which participants will contribute words.

Step 3: Start the Game

The starting player says a word aloud, and the next player responds with a word related to it within a set time limit.

Step 4: Keep the Momentum

Participants respond quickly and spontaneously, fostering creativity and avoiding prolonged pauses.

Step 5: Facilitate Engagement

Players can explain their word associations or share personal connections to deepen engagement and understanding.

Step 6: Monitor Progress

Hosts can keep track of participants’ contributions to ensure each individual has a chance to participate and that the conversation flows smoothly.

Step 7: Set Time Limits

Consider implementing time limits for each turn to keep the game moving and prevent discussions from delaying.

Step 8: Conclude the Game

Finally, wrap up the game after several rounds. You can also revisit some of the best word associations after the event.

Examples of games or activities:

1. Story Chain Word Association

  1. Begin with a starting word or phrase related to a chosen theme or topic.
  2. Each participant adds a word or phrase related to the previous contribution, forming a chain of connected words.
  3. Continue the chain until all participants have contributed, creating a collaborative story or narrative.

2. Rapid Fire Word Association

  1. Set a timer for a short interval, such as 30 seconds or one minute.
  2. Participants take turns saying words that are related to a given prompt or theme as quickly as possible.
  3. The game continues until the timer runs out, with participants aiming to generate as many related words as possible within the time limit.

3. Alphabet Word Association

  1. Choose a starting letter of the alphabet as the prompt for the game.
  2. Participants take turns saying words that begin with the chosen letter, aiming to form a chain of related words.
  3. Continue the chain until all participants have contributed.

4. Picture Word Association

  1. Display a series of images or photographs related to a chosen theme or topic.
  2. Participants say words associated with each image based on their interpretations or personal connections.
  3. Discuss the connections between words and images, exploring the perspectives and interpretations within the group.


  1. Keep it Spontaneous: Encourage participants to respond quickly and instinctively, fostering creativity and preventing overthinking.
  2. Embrace Diverse Perspectives: Value all contributions, even if they initially seem unrelated, as they can spark new ideas and connections.
  3. Establish Clear Guidelines: To ensure players understand and participate effectively, set clear rules for the game, including how players take turns.
  4. Foster Active Listening: Encourage participants to actively listen to each other’s contributions, building on previous words to create a cohesive chain of associations.
  5. Stay Positive and Supportive: Maintain a supportive atmosphere where participants feel comfortable sharing ideas and exploring creative connections.
  6. Set a Time Limit: Consider setting a time limit for each turn to keep the game moving and prevent discussions from stagnating.

Final Thoughts

Playing word association is a dynamic activity that fosters creativity, communication, and collaboration within teams. By exploring connections between words and ideas, participants strengthen their teamwork skills and deepen their understanding of each other’s perspectives. These experiences continue to inspire innovation, empathy, and unity among your team members.

Want more ideas? Check out our post on how to make online meetings fun.

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