How many times have you been in a meeting or new group setting and had to share a “fun” fact about yourself? After a while, it gets pretty tiring. If you struggle when put on the spot, it might even cause anxiety. So instead of something so broad, you might suggest using a more specific icebreaker question at your next meeting.
“Icebreaker questions can help bring people together and foster a sense of engagement” right from the start of an event, says Muse career coach Ravi Raman. And that’s crucial, as low levels of engagement can lead to wasted time and worse outcomes in whatever the group is looking to achieve from their time together. (Have you ever sat in awkward silence waiting for one of your colleagues to speak up about a question or topic first?) And video meetings can make it especially challenging to get people talking and foster a deeper connection between attendees, Raman says. Plus, members of different demographic groups might find it harder to speak up during meetings—whether they’re in-person or remote.
Icebreaker questions get everyone talking up front and learning more about each other, “which will make any meeting go more smoothly and help to get to better outcomes at the end,” Raman says. Good icebreaker questions will also be genuinely fun and easy to answer, and they’re not so broad that people will worry about giving the “right kind” of answer.
We’ve come up with a list of 105 icebreaker questions to use at your next meeting or other group event.
- “Favorites” Questions
- This or That/“Would You Rather” Questions
- Getting-to-Know-You Questions
- Personal History Questions
- Desert Island Questions
- Seasonal Questions
- Catching-Up Questions
But first, here are a few tips for using them.
- Select the right question (or questions) for the situation. Raman suggests you ask yourself: Do people already know each other and how well? Is this group meeting for the first time today, coworkers from different departments of the same company, or a well established team that works together daily? If people are just meeting each other for the first time, things probably shouldn’t get too personal. Also consider the size of your group, how long you have for the meeting, and how long it’ll take to answer your question. You probably don’t have time for a question that requires everyone to answer with a full story during a 30-minute meeting with 10 people. But if you have a lot of time, you might even consider an icebreaker activity.
- Don’t rush. If you’re going to ask, make sure participants have enough time to think about their answers and share them fully, Raman says. “There is nothing worse than asking the question and not giving people time to properly respond!”
- Consider everyone’s comfort level. Everyone has a different past and current life situation, so tread carefully before asking any question that might be uncomfortable for people to answer. For example, don’t ask questions that assume certain family situations, religions, sexualities, or levels of ability. And if someone declines to answer something, don’t make a big deal of it, just move the next person. If you’re unsure about a question, you can always ask two very different questions and let people choose which one to respond to. This also helps if one of your questions is about a more narrow interest like sports or reading.
- Learn what works for you. The best way to learn how to use icebreakers is to “jump in and start using them,” Raman says. Through trial and error, you’ll get a feel for what types of questions work best for you and your team.
- Have fun! Icebreaker questions exist to loosen people up and get them talking. Don’t put too much pressure on people’s answers or ask questions that will make them unhappy or self-conscious. (I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not share my most embarrassing moment with my coworkers before a brainstorming session.)
Icebreakers where you ask everyone to share their favorite thing in a category can be a lot of fun (especially if you’re asking about a more unusual topic) and foster connections between people who discover shared interests. These questions are also great when you don’t have a lot of time, since many only require single words or phrases to answer (if you do have more time, you can always ask people to explain why something is their favorite).
- What’s your favorite season?
- What’s your favorite holiday?
- What’s your favorite sports team (for any sport)?
- What’s your favorite meal to eat and cook? If they’re different, why?
- What’s your favorite breakfast?
- What’s your favorite weird food combination?
- What’s your favorite pizza topping?
- What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
- What’s your favorite thing to do on a day off?
- What’s your favorite supermarket?
- What’s your favorite drink (alcoholic or not)?
- What’s your favorite place to visit on vacation?
- What’s your favorite spot to visit near where you live?
- What’s your favorite video game?
- What’s your favorite meal when you don’t have a lot of time?
- What’s your favorite rainy day activity?
- What’s your favorite writing implement (e.g. mechanical pencil, pen, Pilot G2)?
- What’s your favorite candy?
- What’s your favorite scent?
- What’s your favorite (appropriate) picture on your phone that you’re willing to share right now?
This or That/“Would You Rather” Questions
These questions give people a choice between two things, making them ideal for short icebreakers. But if you want to add more time to the exercise, you can always ask people to explain their answers. For some of these, you want to be sure you take into account what you already know about the interests of the group.
- Cats or dogs?
- Coffee or tea?
- Text or phone call?
- Concert or play?
- Bar or club?
- Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
- PC or console?
- Football or basketball?
- TV shows or movies?
- NSYNC or Backstreet Boys?
- Winter or summer?
- Summer or spring?
- Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?
- Would you rather live somewhere that’s always cold or always warm?
- Would you rather live in the city or the country?
- Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?
- Would you rather be able to speak all human languages or speak to all animals?
- Would you rather have unlimited free airfare or unlimited free food?
- Would you rather time travel to the future or the past?
- Would you rather only be able to use a fork or only use a spoon?
- Would you rather go to space or to the bottom of the ocean?
These questions can be used for any icebreaker, but they might go best for groups that will work together on an ongoing basis since they delve a bit deeper into a person’s interests and life outside of work (while still being work appropriate!).
- What’s your most hated household chore?
- Do you have any unusual talents?
- What’s your dream vacation?
- What do you do to unwind after work?
- What’s a current hobby you enjoy or a hobby you’d like to try?
- What’s your guilty pleasure musical artist?
- What’s your guilty pleasure television show?
- What’s your guilty pleasure movie?
- What’s your guilty pleasure book?
- What type of media (books, TV, movies, podcasts, video games, etc.) do you spend the most time consuming?
- What is your comfort food?
- What’s one song you know all the lyrics to?
- What television show or movie have you seen the most number of times?
- What interesting collection do you have or is there anything you’d like to start collecting?
- If you could meet any celebrity (living or dead) who would it be?
- What movie (or book, trend, food, etc.) do you think is underrated?
- What’s one book you think everybody should read?
- What’s one movie you think everybody should see?
- Are you a morning person or a night person?
- What topic could you give the longest presentation on right now with no preparation?
- If money, resources, or skill level didn’t matter what would your dream job be?
Personal History Questions
These questions will also help people learn a bit more about each other, but focus on the past, which might be a good way to shake things up for a group that’s already well established (though some of them might still be appropriate for a newer or more casual group).
- What’s the first concert you ever went to?
- What’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on?
- Have you ever met a celebrity? If so, who?
- Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?
- What’s a common activity you’ve never done?
- Have you ever had a pet?
- What is the most embarrassing trend you participated in?
- How many states or countries have you been to? Lived in?
- When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- What was your favorite show, book, band, or other piece of media when you were 12 years old?
- What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
- What scent, taste, or sound reminds you of childhood?
Desert Island Questions
A combination of the “favorites” and getting-to-know-you questions, desert island questions all revolve around the concept of what someone would bring with them to a desert island—meaning these would be the only source of entertainment, food, companionship, etc. The point here isn’t to escape the desert island (so no books called How to Build a Boat), it’s to see what’s really important to other members of the group. Feel free to change up the numbers here to increase or decrease the challenge of narrowing down a list (and to fit your time constraints).
- If you could only take three albums to a desert island what would they be?
- If you could only take three books to a desert island what would they be?
- If you could only take three movies to a desert island what would they be?
- What object (that’s not an album, book, or movie) would you bring to a desert island for entertainment?
- If you could only have one food with you on a desert island what would it be?
- If you had to be trapped on a desert island with one person, who would it be?
- If you had to be trapped on a desert island with one celebrity, who would it be?
- If you had to be trapped on a desert island with one fictional character, who would it be?
- What five items would you bring to a desert island? (Assume you have the basics for survival.)
These questions help break the ice while acknowledging the time of year.
- What’s your favorite thing about [current season]?
- What’s the best or most memorable Halloween costume you’ve ever worn or seen?
- What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?
- What’s your favorite [season] activity?
- What’s your favorite snow day activity?
- What is your favorite [current or upcoming season] tradition?
These questions are ideal for well established teams and regularly scheduled meetings. They let people talk about what they’re up to right now, without necessarily getting too deep. If you have more time to spend on icebreakers, feel free to let discussion develop around people’s answers.
- What book are you reading?/What’s the last book you read?
- What piece of media (TV show, podcast, etc.) are you currently consuming?
- What are you looking forward to?
- What did you spend more time doing this week than the week before?
- What’s something you did for yourself in the last week or plan on doing for yourself in the coming week?
- What have you been excited about this week?
- What’s something you accomplished this week (can be small or large!)?
- Have you been listening to anything while you work? If so, what?
Other Fun Questions
These questions let people think a bit more outside the box and can be appropriate for almost any group.
- If you could have any animal (real or imaginary) as a pet, what would it be?
- If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
- If you could see one book made into a (good) movie or television show, what would it be?
- What fun thing would you do with a million dollars?
- What fictional place would you like to visit?
- What’s one feature of your dream house?
- What’s your dream concert lineup?
- If you could be anywhere in the world at this moment, where would you be?