If you’ve ever wondered what the best icebreaker questions for meetings are, you’ve come to the right place.
This blog post is packed with 30 of the best options–options you could start using today if you really wanted to.
So sit back, relax, and let us take you on a magical ride. You’ll learn why icebreakers are important, when to use them, and what our top choices are.
Did that intro break the ice enough for you? Perfect, let’s get started!
The importance of icebreakers
Before we really dive into this, let’s first ask a couple important questions: Why icebreakers? And can they really benefit your team and working environment?
Icebreakers are an important leadership tool in any manager’s tool belt. They can be used to help newly assembled teams bond and get to know each other on a deeper level. This often leads to heightened creativity, better project management and increased levels of productivity.
They can also aid managers in drawing more introverted team members out of their respective shells. A simple or fun question at the onset of your next meeting may be all it takes to loosen the tongues of your shyest employees and gain their valuable insights.
Finally, icebreakers can simply be an amusing way to lighten the mood and start your meeting in an entertaining way. We all like to have fun, right?
When to use icebreaker questions
Icebreakers can be used anytime that two or more people gather to share ideas. This includes job interviews, office meetings–especially when multiple departments are involved and team members are asked to work with employees they aren’t familiar with–and conference or workshop small groups.
In fact, these are the three scenarios we’ll be focusing on in this post.
But before we get to the list, it’s important to note that there are two kinds of people who can benefit from this blog post: those who plan to use the icebreakers and those who’ll need to answer to them.
If your job description includes hiring new talent and/or leading meetings of different sorts, use the following icebreaker questions to relieve tension and increase conversation.
And if you’re currently looking for a job, or are regularly asked to participate in company meetups, study these questions and mentally prepare your answers. You might just get asked one of the questions on this list at your next interview or company meetup.
Our top icebreaker questions for meetings of all kinds
All right, then. Are you ready to learn the 30 best icebreaker questions for meetings? The following list, divided into three categories for your convenience, contains our top picks. Study hard, my friend, and maybe you’ll become the icebreaking virtuoso you always dreamed you could be!
Are you in charge of hiring for that shiny new position at your company? Or maybe you’re the guy or gal that wants to be hired. Either way, this list of icebreaker questions can be used to your advantage:
- If you could immediately gain one new skill, what would it be? This is a fun question that can give management a quick glimpse into the ambitions of their potential new hire. And job seekers, be real with your answers–just keep it professional.
- Who do you greatly admire and why? Most people answer this question with a family member’s name. Which is great! Mom and dad deserve all kinds of love and respect. But the “why” is far more interesting and tends to show a person’s true values.
- What is your all time favorite quotation? Why do we post quotes to our social media pages and frame pictures of them to hang on our walls? Because they speak to us in a profound way. Understanding why a quote matters to a potential hire can offer valuable insight on their worldview.
- If you were to donate to one charity, what would it be and why? Charitable giving isn’t something everyone takes seriously. It’s also not a reason to not hire someone. But if someone is actively supportive of a worthy cause, it does say something about their beliefs and willingness to serve.
- Who was your favorite teacher in school and what did you learn from him/her? Like many of the questions in this section, this query allows management to learn a little about the values of a potential employee. It may also speak to the type of environment a job hopeful will best thrive in.
- How would your best friend describe you? Our best friends love us. They’re also some of the few people who will be completely honest with us. So a best friend’s description of a possible employee is gold– as long as the information isn’t rearranged in transit, that is.
- If you invented a time machine, what period in history would you visit first? This is just a fun, bond-building, jitter-reducing question. Who hasn’t wished they could have witnessed an epic moment in history? We certainly have!
- What is one thing on your bucket list? If you want to know someone’s goals, ambitions, or quirks, this is a solid question to ask. But be careful. We find that it often leads to bucket list items being added to our own lists. We now have very long lists.
- What do you consider your greatest achievement? As a manager, you need to know what a potential employee is capable of. As a job seeker, you want to share the biggest highlight of your career. This question must have been conceived in icebreaker heaven!
- If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Values, values, values. While this question has the potential to be widely entertaining, it also spotlights the character traits we find important.
For office meetups:
Maybe job interviews aren’t your thing right now. But, office meetings? Yeah, those you have to deal with on the regular. If you’re in management, you might be wondering, “How do I get this band of misfits to work together, Avengers style?”
And if you’re part of the team, you may lay awake at night thinking, “If only I knew what to say when Mr. Boss Man asks me another crazy icebreaker!”
Whichever role you identify with most, this section of the best icebreaker questions for meetings list is for you:
- What was your first job? This question can definitely lead to some highly amusing answers. We’re sure your whole team would love to know that one of their coworker’s first introduction to employment was cleaning toilets at the local YMCA.
- Are you reading anything interesting right now? This question has multiple benefits. First, it might help encourage reading amongst team members, which has been proven to increase success. Also, good book recommendations are priceless!
- Have you seen any good movies lately? Is it just us or has Hollywood been pumping out a whole lotta garbage lately? When someone’s seen a good film, it’s worth sharing. Plus, movies are just a ball to chat about.
- Where was the last place you went for the first time? New experiences are fun. And terrifying. And great icebreakers! Get a conversation started about the new cities, restaurants, or activity centers your team has recently visited.
- Do you have a favorite breakfast cereal? You’d be surprised how passionate some people are about their morning munchies. Cap’n Crunch or Lucky Charms? Milk first or cereal first? Your team members definitely have an opinion.
- What’s your craziest family tradition? Are you ready for the cold, hard truth? We’re all insane. Never has that been more clear than when sharing family traditions. Did you know that Sarah in accounting rewatches the original Simpsons Christmas special every single year with her family?
- Would you rather be able to fly or turn invisible? Two incredible powers, only one choice. The correct answer to this one will never actually be determined. But you might as well use it as an icebreaker and try anyway. Just make sure each person explains why they would prefer one ability over the other.
- If you could travel anywhere in the world today, where would you go? “Away from this meeting” doesn’t count. Allow team members to get to know each other better by learning about their ideal travel spots.
- Which one fictional place would you most like to visit? Oh yes. Get ready for a destination showdown between Middle Earth, Hogwarts and Tatooine. Just let that inner geek out for five glorious minutes. (For the record, the correct answer is Hogwarts.)
- What do you plan on doing once you retire? Answers to this query may run the gamut. Especially if your team has a wide age range. While those just beginning their careers probably haven’t thought about retiring all that much, those closer to their twilight years are sure to have a few gems to add to the conversation.
For small group meetings:
Have you ever attended a conference or workshop for business? Everything is going great, the speaker is on fire, the crowd is revved up, and you’ve got so many new ideas swirling through your little brain you think it might explode.
Then the “expert” on stage decides the event just wouldn’t be complete without a little “collaboration” time. He or she breaks the crowd up into small groups and you’re expected to work with some dude from some company you’ve never heard of.
Ring any bells? If so, this last section of our icebreaker questions for meetings just became your best friend. Seriously! Use the following queries to get the dialogue flowing at your next small group meeting.
- Have you ever met anyone famous? Admittedly, this question has enormous potential to fail miserably. If everyone’s answer is “no” then zero ice has actually been broken. But take a chance and you might discover that someone’s uncle is a celebrity–how cool would that be?!
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? We’ve all received advice that’s helped us navigate this crazy thing we call life. Sharing it not only helps us further internalize that wisdom, but also helps others on their own path.
- What’s the first thing you remember buying with your own money? Candy, dog treats, baseball cards? This quick trip down memory lane can be a fun way to get strangers talking.
- Who was most influential in your life as a kid? Speaking of memory lane, we’ve all had influences in life, people who helped shape us into who we are today. Give your fellow small group attendees time to reminisce and share a little about their greatest influence.
- If you could only use one piece of technology, what would it be? This is a tough one. Should I say my phone or my computer? If I say my computer, does it come with Wi-Fi or does that actually count as two pieces of technology? If you work at a software company, is it fair to name your own product? To be fair, a lot of us here at Toggl do use the Toggl tracker to time our tasks–but only because it’s a pretty nifty piece of technology! (You can see for yourself, here.) Maybe the debate on what’s allowed will end up being a better icebreaker than the question itself!
- What is your favorite hobby or pastime? Golf, video games, or poker? There’s a pretty much unlimited amount of answers here. But if a few people happen to share a favorite hobby or pastime, they’ll automatically be able to bond much quicker.
- If you were to host your own talk show, who would be your first guest? This query can provide a little insight on the values of the people in your small group. Some might use the hypothetical opportunity to advance their careers and gain valuable knowledge. Others might just be looking for a laugh and a good time.
- What is your greatest strength in your current job? People love to talk about themselves. So if you want to get people’s lips moving, ask them what they’re awesome at. Works every time.
- How many cities have you lived in during your life and which is your favorite? Geography has this weird way of binding people together. Maybe it just makes us feel closer to people and more understood. Whatever the reason, this question makes for a great icebreaker.
- How would you spend one million dollars? “Invest it” doesn’t count as an answer here. Have some fun and only accept more concrete responses like “I’d buy a beach house in Malibu.” Ah, wouldn’t that be the life?
You may find that some of the questions listed in one section of the list also work perfectly in other scenarios. If so, feel free to mix and match. The point of this entire icebreaker exercise is to encourage conversation and build deeper bonds between teams.
Heck, maybe your next icebreaker question should be, “What’s your favorite icebreaker questions?” Yup, that’s right, get meta with it! Whatever works for you and your squad.
For management, it’s also worth noting that these icebreaker question sessions should definitely be monitored. If you’re not careful, they can get out of hand–either because your team gets swept up in the excitement, or because of hurt feelings.
In the case of the former, just set a time limit and stick to it. Dedicate the first five minutes or so of each meeting to an icebreaker. When the time is up, get to work. Toggl’s time tracker is one great way to time these sorts of activities–you can also compare the lengths of different icebreaking sessions later because Toggl saves it all for you.
Also, to avoid any hurt feelings, always keep things positive. It’s OK to laugh and have a good time, but no team member should ever be made fun of for their answers. Keep it light and conversational. Break the ice, build bonds, then take care of business.
There you have it: our picks for the 30 best icebreaker questions for meetings. How do you feel? Enlightened, perhaps? Don’t worry, that’s natural after reading one of our blog posts.
But now it’s time to take the knowledge you’ve gleaned and put it to good use. Remember, an icebreaker is designed to get teams talking and sharing ideas. They’re perfect for groups who don’t know each other very well or include a few introverted and/or shy members.
If you’re generally the one leading meetings at your company, go ahead and bust one of these bad boys out at your next office meetup and see how it goes. Who knows? You may just have your most entertaining and productive meeting yet.
Have you used any of these icebreakers before? Do you have any personal favorites that didn’t make our list?
Did you try the icebreakers, track the time with our Toggl tracker and discover that you ended up spending half the meeting on ice breakers? (That’s not necessarily a bad thing: It might just mean your coworkers are starved for socializing.)
Let us know in the comments!