You’re the first one in the virtual meeting room, debating if you should turn on your video and mic already. Slowly others filter into the meeting, quiet faces popping up around you on the screen. Someone says hi - who was it? - and you unmute to say “hi” back, but only a broken ‘iii’ carries through. Great. Attendees awkwardly nod and half-smile as the moderator shuffles through docs to get started. You’re already wondering, could this meeting have been an email.
An unfortunate and familiar scenario in today’s remote and hybrid work models. Feeling disconnected and uncomfortable at the beginning of a meeting doesn’t exactly set attendees up for engaged participation. In fact, 64% of younger professionals report video meetings already cause them anxiety. And, even if you can keep your camera off, 67% of employees admit they’re distracted during virtual meetings – from checking emails, texting, and trying to multitask on other work.
Since the average pro spends over half the standard workweek sitting in meetings, how can teams use this valuable time to build a stronger company culture and authentically connect with employees?
Fear not! We’ve done the research for you by compiling the ultimate list of fun and thoughtful icebreaker questions to bring to your next virtual meeting. Have a laugh, reduce anxiety, boost camaraderie and get everyone primed for a productive session! Zero secondhand embarrassment involved.
What are ice breakers?
Let’s get the basics out of the way before we dive into the fun part. What are ice breakers and why bother incorporating them into your virtual meetings? An ice breaker is a question or activity used to relieve tension, start conversations, and help people get to know each other. The name originates from ‘icebreaker’ ships that create passage through sheets of ice at sea to create passage – a perfect metaphor for loosening up the ‘ice’ of unfamiliar situations and new acquaintances across teams. Ice breakers can also deliver on some powerful meeting benefits – safe ‘passage’ for productivity, if you will!
Benefits of icebreakers:
- Create a safe space where everyone can feel comfortable.
- Establish equality amongst attendees in the meeting.
- Facilitate engagement from all participants from the start.
- Boost confidence to share opinions and ideas during the session.
- Build rapport and get to know other team members better.
- Reduce meeting anxiety to promote involvement and engagement.
- Improve company culture by creating community amongst the team.
- Have a laugh – which is always a good idea during busy workweeks!
Since meetings have increased 69.7% since February 2020, for most professionals that means sitting through a lot of Zoom meetings every week. Especially with the social disconnect in remote or hybrid teams – virtual meetings with your team, clients, or direct reports can feel impersonal and awkward. Effectively used ice breakers can help you better connect with the people you’re meeting, and ultimately, make your meetings more productive. Let’s dive into the top 100 ice breaker questions for any situation!
Types of ice breaker questions covered
Productive team meeting ice breakers
Virtual meeting ice breaker games
Funny ice breaker questions
How much does a polar bear weigh? Just enough to break the ice!* Fun ice breakers are awesome for team meetings with a more casual atmosphere, especially for coworkers that are acquainted but could use the opportunity to get to know each other better. These lighthearted questions are guaranteed to boost the overall mood, make attendees feel at ease, and help everyone get more comfortable speaking up in the meeting.
10 examples of funny ice breakers:
- What’s your biggest irrational phobia?
- Which famous actor would play you in a movie?
- What is your most used emoji this week?
- What’s your favorite sandwich and why?
- What word or expression have you been saying too much?
- What’s your secret talent/party trick?
- What is your zodiac sign and do you think it applies to you?
- What’s one thing many people hate but you love?
- If you were an Olympic athlete (are you?), what sport would you compete in?
- Share the first joke that comes to mind! *Feel free to memorize our example.
Deep ice breaker questions
For smaller, more intimate virtual meeting settings – these reflective questions can be an opportunity to create authentic connections with the team and learn more about your coworkers. These shouldn’t be rushed, so make sure you leave enough time for genuine conversation around the answers during the meeting.
10 examples of deep ice breakers:
- What is an inspiring daily mantra or reminder to yourself?
- What’s a new habit that you’ve been trying to introduce into your life?
- What’s one practice that improved your quality of life?
- What is your favorite way to relax after a stressful day?
- How would your friends describe you to a stranger?
- How have you changed in the last year?
- What’s a quality you appreciate most in others?
- If you could learn something in an instant, what would you want to learn?
- What’s a cause or purpose you deeply believe in?
- What advice have you received that really stuck with you?
New hire ice breaker questions
In growing companies, it is not uncommon to have new hires introduced to everyone in a team meeting. We already know what they say about first impressions, and this applies especially to remote teams where employees in different departments might rarely cross paths to get to know each other organically. Here are some unique ice breakers that are more thoughtful than cheesy – to help both the existing team and the newest colleagues get off to a good start.
10 examples of onboarding ice breakers:
- What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?
- How did you end up on your current career path?
- What is something you’re looking forward to in your role?
- If you weren’t doing this, what other career could you see yourself in?
- What’s one of your favorite things about your culture?
- Who’s someone that you look up to/inspires you?
- Where are you working from, and how did you end up there?
- What’s one thing we would never guess about you?
- What would you say is your greatest strength, and weakness?
- When during the day are you most productive?
Professional ice breaker questions
For more serious meeting scenarios, ice breakers require a slightly different approach to maintain a desired level of professionalism. That doesn’t mean your client meetings, interviews, or partner discussions have to be totally dry! Here are some ideas to break the virtual ice, start conversation, and help make the meeting memorable.
10 examples of professional ice breakers:
- What’s something enjoyable you did over the weekend?
- What’s an activity you’ve done that you think everyone should try?
- Are you reading or watching anything good right now, what is it?
- What’s your go-to work lunch recommendation?
- What’s the weather like where you are?
- If someone came to visit your town, what would you recommend they do?
- Are you planning any upcoming vacations, if so where to?
- What is a gadget/accessory on your desk that you love?
- What is a productivity tip that improved your work life?
- What is a responsibility you really enjoy in your work?
Quick ice breaker questions
When you’re limited on time, or have a larger meeting group, warm up activities need to be kept short and sweet. Doing a lightning round of answers can be fun in its own way, so let’s take a look at some one-word answer ice breaker question examples to fire off in the next quick virtual meeting.
10 examples of quick ice breakers:
- Do you eat breakfast every morning?
- Are you a coffee or tea person?
- Where would you move if you could retire tomorrow?
- Describe yourself in one word.
- Describe the company/team in one word.
- Are you more likely to pick truth or dare?
- Are you a dog or cat person?
- What instrument do you play, if any?
- What’s a snack you could go for right now?
- What’s your favorite movie genre?
One-on-one ice breaker questions
1:1 meetings are amazing opportunities to connect with your direct report, manager, or coworker, and asking the right check-in questions can really help make the most of each session for both attendees. Here are some examples of ice breaker questions to hit off a productive one-on-one meeting and build communication and trust – for both managers, and reports.
5 examples of 1:1 ice breakers for managers:
- What’s something you’re proud of accomplishing this month/week?
- Where have you been seeing improvement in your work style?
- What’s been taking up most of your time?
- What’s something you wish you had more time for day-to-day?
- How can I better support your work/mentor you/help remove blockers?
5 examples of 1:1 ice breakers for direct reports:
- What do you think I’ve been doing well lately?
- What are some skills I could improve to do my job more efficiently?
- What are your current top priorities for me/this role?
- What are some responsibilities you see me taking on in the future?
- If you could offer a piece of professional advice to me, what would it be?
Productive team meeting ice breaker questions
Ice breakers don’t have to be just for laughs. Building warm-up questions into your next brainstorming or ideation session, for example, can help get everyone’s creative juices flowing and put more reserved attendees at ease to encourage engagement during the meeting. Adding an element of recognition and appreciation within the team is also a great way to boost morale. Check out these examples for productivity boosting ice breakers.
10 examples of productive team meeting ice breakers:
- On a scale of 1-10, how is everyone feeling about their progress this sprint/week?
- How has someone on the team been helpful to you this sprint/week?
- What is a personal accomplishment you feel proud of this sprint/week?
- What do you think makes a productive team meeting?
- Throw out a product/feature idea you think would be cool (no wrong answers!).
- If the team was going to take a company trip, where do you think it should be?
- If you had to switch jobs with another attendee for the day (just for fun), who would you choose and why?
- How would you describe the team dynamic in 2 words?
- What’s a personal skill you’d like to improve to help you accomplish more wins?
- What or who is something that has professionally inspired you lately?
Show & tell ice breaker questions
A timeless classic activity – yes, even beyond the first grade. Show and tell ice breakers are a fun way for teams to open up and bond over personal common interests. These questions also help take some of the pressure off answering personal questions thanks to a physical prompt! Here are the top 10 show and tell questions to help break the ice.
10 examples of show and tell ice breakers:
- Do you have a pet? Introduce them to the team.
- What is your favorite item currently on your desk, and why?
- How many beverages are on your desk right now, and what are they?
- Do you have a favorite mug? Show and share why it’s special to you.
- Do you listen to anything while you work? If yes, what’s playing?
- What is the funniest thing you currently have saved to your desktop?
- Do you have a funny childhood/throwback photo of yourself? Share the story behind it.
- Read/watch/listen to anything good recently? Share a recommendation with the team.
- What’s your personality type? What kind of cheese are you? Everyone completes a personality test/fun quiz and shares their results with the team.
- What’s a work or personal project that you’re proud of? Share with the team.
Holiday ice breaker questions
There are countless holidays every year, and these holiday themed ice breaker questions are a great way to get in the spirit and connect with your team around traditions and festivities in your virtual meetings. This is especially fun if you have a diverse team that celebrates a wide range of holidays! Adding all of them to a shared calendar to pull from as they draw near is an easy way to work in these conversation starters. These ice breakers are designed to be inclusive and adaptive to any holiday.
10 examples of holiday themed ice breakers:
- What is ___ about? (Let someone introduce a holiday they celebrate.)
- Do you prefer giving or receiving holiday gifts?
- What is your favorite holiday of the year and why?
- What is a fun holiday tradition for you to do every year?
- What is your favorite holiday dish or dessert of the year?
- Are you a big holiday decorator?
- Are you more a holiday party host, or a holiday attendee?
- What is the most memorable holiday experience you’ve had?
- What do you usually wear for ___?
- What is a holiday you’ve never personally experienced, but would like to?
Virtual meeting ice breaker games
Ice breakers aren’t limited to just questions, either. There are lots of fun activities you can use to warm-up for a great virtual meeting – from both small to large attendance groups. Here are some interactive ice breaker games to get everyone participating and in a good mood for the meeting ahead.
10 examples of virtual meeting ice breaker games:
- Alphabet Brainstorm (4-20 attendees): Based on a letter, the round goes through everyone in the meeting. Each person has to say a word or phrase starting with the chosen letter – adding a time limit can make this even more challenging! While it might sound simple, trying to do this activity fast will not only get everyone laughing, but also stimulate creative thinking and inventiveness.
- Theme of the meeting (2+ attendees): This is a fun activity that delivers big on fun and doesn’t take up a bunch of time in the meeting. Select a theme for your virtual meeting, and prompt everyone in the group to set their video background for the meeting to something on-theme. The quirkier the better! Let everyone have a laugh about the choices, or even incorporate a vote for an anonymous winner for that theme.
- The Telephone Game (4-15 attendees): Gartic Phone is a free, online group drawing game. Everyone submits a prompt and someone else draws a picture based on the prompt they’re assigned. The results are hilarious and witty prompts get good laughs from the group. If applicable, you can even try theming prompts around the meeting topic to get ideas flowing (even if they’re a little silly to begin with).
- Guess who (4+ attendees): This activity works for baby photos, a random truth, an activity picture from the weekend, a shot of fridge contents – or anything else you can think of! Have everyone submit around a prompt, and then try to guess who is who! For larger groups, the moderator can set up an online poll so the team can submit their guesses simultaneously and see who was right.
- Bingo (2+ attendees): Have the team partake in an online game of bingo with an app like BingoMaker. You can create unique cards based on custom themes like ‘what’s on your phone’, or use a premade one! Consider planning small prizes for winners, like a Starbucks or Amazon gift card.
- Jackbox Games (2-8 attendees): Jackbox is a crowd favorite at Reclaim.ai’s biweekly beverages team meeting! With lots of different game sets to choose from for smaller groups, everyone can play from their own device. A guaranteed good time approved by yours truly.
- Lightning scavenger hunt (5-20 attendees): A surprisingly fun game to play remotely! The moderator gives a scavenger prompt - check out these examples for inspiration - and team members scramble to find an object in their house to match. The first one back or best object in a set time wins the round. Bonus? Starting the first 10 minutes of your meeting with some high-intensity movement (and you bet it’ll get intense!) brings up the heart rate and boosts blood flow – a great way to get the brain warmed-up for an innovative meeting.
- Typing race (4+ attendees): Get everyone in on a typing race on a free platform like TypingTest. A quick and lighthearted warm-up activity for smaller, more acquainted teams – friendly competition between coworkers can actually boost motivation and help prepare for increased effort and higher performance in the upcoming meeting. You might be surprised who wins! Let everyone laugh it off in the meeting to affirm good spirits.
- Polls (4+ attendees): Slido has some awesome virtual polls where large groups can partake in ice breakers all at once, and share the answers visually in a word cloud or a stat graph! Share the city that you’re joining from, one word to describe your past week, your most used emoji, or any other custom prompt. A great way to engage even large virtual meeting groups!
- Ten Strikes (4-30 attendees): Every player puts 10 (or 5!) fingers up and everyone goes around the room sharing a true statement about themselves. Everyone for whom the statement is also true, puts a finger down. Continue until one person is left! A great ice breaker for meetings, this is a great way for coworkers to learn more about what they have in common and feel connected to the team.
Break the ice at virtual meetings (no ship needed! 🤣)
Social situations can be hard, especially in a remote workspace. But starting virtual meetings with good ice breakers not only makes them more enjoyable, it also helps boost productivity by making participants feel at ease and engaged with their team.
Taking the time to get creative with warm-up questions and activities for any kind of virtual meeting benefits everyone in the long term. Hopefully some of these 100 examples of get-to-know-you questions and team-building ice breaker games inspire you for your next meeting!
What is your go-to ice breaker question or game? Tweet us @reclaimai to share your ideas!
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