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Humans are social creatures. We derive enjoyment, fulfilment and meaning from being around other people. Being in an office or a workplace no different to any other social environment - we mingle, chat, laugh and make friends. That’s why it’s not uncommon for some people to cite the best thing about their job are their coworkers!
The science is clear - according to a Gallup poll, engaged employees are 21% more productive. Effective team leaders and scrum masters should be looking at ways to actively encourage social cohesion. One actionable way of immediately boosting employee engagement is by utilizing icebreaker games. Playing fun, quick and energizing games before your meetings is a proven way to get team members to open up to one another and create deeper bonds. That being said, it won’t happen overnight. Try to embed icebreaker games into part of your routine and organizational culture.
Knowing when and how to use icebreaker games is key. When you play the same icebreaker games again and again, it loses its novelty very quickly. Instead of being a delightful break from work, it can easily become just another monotonous chore. That’s why having a large repertoire of games to choose from keeps the variety and excitement levels high.
What is a fun icebreaker question?
A fun icebreaker question is one that is one that is a bit quirky and is amusing to answer. Asking fun icebreaker questions is a good way to shake things up from having the same small talk every day.
Here are a few examples of fun icebreaker questions:
What is your spirit animal?
If animals could talk, which would be the most boring?
What song would you play if you were at a party?
Is cereal another type of soup?
Our blog post 81 Funny Questions to Ask is a great place to start if you’re looking for more fun icebreaker questions.
What do you say during ice breakers?
If you have a lot of introverted and shy people in your team (or maybe you are one yourself), it may be hard to strike up a free flowing conversation. You may think that’s a reason not to do icebreakers, but in fact it’s the opposite. A good icebreaker is something that helps everyone get out of their shells - because no matter how quiet a person may seem, there’s always a part of them that wants to express themselves to others.
So what do you actually say during an icebreaker? A good rule of thumb is to share something about yourself. If you’re the facilitator of the session, it’s a good idea to start first and set a solid example. Here are some ideas on what to say during an ice breaker:
- Introduce yourself in a friendly and candid fashion.
- Don’t state any facts about yourself that others can already find on your email signature or LinkedIn profile (name, position title etc.)
- Instead, share something about yourself that others may not know. The quirkier the better. Maybe you only like the taste of anchovies when they’re on pizza but otherwise can’t stand them? Something like that really adds character and uniqueness to your introduction.
- Ask questions and engage with other people’s icebreakers! Positive affirmation and followup questions, or even smiling and nodding when somebody is sharing will encourage them to continue opening up to you in the future.
How do you break the ice on Zoom?
As more and more teams move to partial or fully remote setups, a big concern is losing engagement with remote employees. Without the physical environment of the office, a lot of incidental interactions are lost. Unless we take extra measures to build trust and connection with our colleagues, it’s easy to make them feel shunned and left out. Although we may be checking in often on our video conferencing tools, how connected and engaged are your team actually feeling?
Just because you are not in the same room as your co-worker, doesn’t mean you can’t grow closer with them. We’ve put together a list of virtual breakers that you can add to your repertoire the next time you have a virtual team meeting.
What are some good ice breaker games?
Here's a list of good ice breaker games to play in any scenario. The best part is they're all playable even if your team is fully remote!
Question of the Day
How many times have you started off the same old conversations with the same old superficial small talk? Playing Question of the Day is a simple and easy way to shake things up a bit. The key benefit of this game is everybody gets a turn to speak and share with the group. Fostering open and honest communication is crucial for developing healthy team culture, so when somebody is sharing their answer to the Question of the Day, make sure to listen to them and give your full attention.
How to play Question of the Day:
- Find a list of open-ended questions, and get them ready before the meeting. These questions can be either fun and lighthearted or deep and meaningful, depending on the vibe you are trying to create. For icebreakers with a new group, we suggest the fun and lighthearted option.
- Get a stopwatch or a timer. How long you set the time for each player will depend on the size of the group, and how much time you want to devote to the icebreaker. A good rule of thumb is to keep the total game time to around 10-15 minutes. So if you have 7 people, 2 minutes is a good time to stick to.
- Go around and take turns answering the questions. Once the timer is up, it’s time to wrap things up and nominate the next person to answer their question. If somebody runs out of things to say before the timer is up, the group or facilitator can ask them followup questions.
That’s it! Although this isn’t really a “game”, it’s a really effective way to encourage communication and sharing.
As a team leader or facilitator, you may be thinking this is a great idea but it might also sound like a lot of work to prepare the questions. The simplest way to play Question of the Day is to head over to Brightful Games and host a game. It only takes seconds to get started, comes loaded with both Deep and Lighthearted questions, as well as a timer for each player.
Remember when you are just a kid in school and did nice little drawings for Mom to put up on the fridge? Somewhere along the way we grew up and forgot what it felt like to just draw without worrying if others would judge our artistic talent (or lack thereof). Drawing is a fun, easy and natural way to tap into our creative sides. That’s also what makes it a fantastic icebreaker game. If you don't have pens and paper available because your team is remote, look no further than Draw It!
How to play Draw It!
- Create a game room with Brightful (it’s free and takes just seconds). Choose from a selection of game types created by the Brightful community (e.g. Animals, Pop culture, Game of Thrones) that best suits your audience.
- Copy and send the game room invitation link to your colleagues
- Start the game once they’ve all joined. Everybody takes a turn choosing a word to draw on their mobile or desktop, and the rest of the players try to guess the word. Points are awarded for correct guesses from the drawer and the guesser.
- The timer, scores and winner are all automatically taken care of by the game, so once everyone has had a turn, the game will announce the winner!
If you are planning on hosting a training or seminar with a large group of people, you can limit the amount of players who get a chance to draw. This is great because everyone will still be able to take turns guessing but the game won’t drag on for a long time. You can also create your own list of words to draw, so you can tailor the content to match your event!
Spot My Lie
How well do you really know someone in your team? Playing Spot My Lie (also known as 2 Truths 1 Lie) as an icebreaker will put that to the test. Not only is it a fun game of cunning and deception, it’s also a great way to learn cool facts about one another! This game is also perfect for introducing new members to the team.
Here’s how to play Spot My Lie:
- Everybody writes down 2 truths, and 1 lie about themselves. These should be personal snippets of information that isn’t very obvious, such as “I enjoy playing soccer” or “I broke my foot in fifth grade”.
- Go around the group, taking turns reading out the truths and lies
- Other players of the group try to guess which answer is the lie
That’s all there is to it, there’s no need to calculate scores or a winner. That’s because this is not a competitive game, rather it’s a way for people to learn interesting facts about one another. The best fun is when you can trick others into thinking something is a lie when it’s actually true.
10 Things in Common
This game is great for large groups, and is actually a two in one team building game as well as an icebreaker. The thing that makes it a great icebreaker is it gets people sharing about themselves, while the aspect of relating and finding common ground is a fantastic way to build team rapport.
Another great thing about this game is that it’s super simple to play. All you need to do is break into groups of 5 to 10 people, and start a discussion. The aim of the game is to find 10 things that everybody in the group has in common. Try to find creative answers rather than super obvious facts (e.g. “everybody has been to Thailand” is a better answer than “everybody has ears”)
Would You Rather
An oldie but a goldie, who else remembers killing time by striking up interesting Would You Rather conversations when you were younger? It’s a classic for a reason, and is great when used in a work setting to break the ice. All you need is a set of great Would You Rather questions, and voila! You’ve got yourself a tried and true ice breaker that’s going to stir up interesting conversations in no time.
What makes a good Would You Rather question? The two options have to be equally appealing (or repulsive), to really force the player to make a hard decision. The best Would You Rather questions will really polarize the group’s opinions, and that’s the best part - after everybody has voted, it’s fun to ask people to debate and justify their decisions. You end up learning a lot about someone by how they explain their thinking.
Would You Rather questions can also come in multiple flavors. They can be lighthearted, which are silly and ridiculous. Lighthearted Would You Rather questions are perfect for lightening the mood and creating a fun atmosphere. Here are some examples of lighthearted questions:
- Would you rather be able to shrink down to the size of an ant or grow to the size of a skyscraper?
- Would you rather be able to control animals or be able to see into the future?
- Would you rather wear a green leprechaun hat every day or fairy wings?
On the flipside, if you want to use Would You Rather as a way to get to know your colleagues on a more meaningful level, you can play Deep Would You Rather questions. Here are a few examples:
- Would you rather be infamous in history books or be forgotten after your death?
- Would you rather be liked by everyone you’ve ever met or have everything you’ve ever wanted?
- Would you rather have an exciting but dangerous life or a boring but meaningful life?
These are best played with colleagues or friends that you are already quite familiar with. Seeing their perspectives on things may really help strengthen your bond with them.
If you want to try Would You Rather but don’t have the time to research all these light or deep questions yourself, the easiest way to hop into a game is by playing it on Brightful. You can get started in seconds and it comes loaded with hundreds of Deep or Light-hearted questions.
How do you start a fun team meeting?
Icebreaker games are a perfect way to start a team meeting off with some fun. But playing the same games over and over again can be tiresome. The best way you can quickly and easily start a fun team meeting over Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or any other video conferencing tool!) is with Brightful. Hosting a game takes seconds, and it works perfectly alongside your existing communicating channels. As long as your team has access to either a computer or mobile device, they will be able to join the game. Make sure to choose a game that is fun and energizing to play, and you can even control the time each player gets, ensuring that the games don’t run overtime.
How long should an ice breaker be?
As a general rule of thumb, icebreakers should be used as a way to kickstart engagement before a meeting. Therefore it should not be too long, or your team might get distracted from the more substantial content of the meeting. Careful planning of which icebreaker game to play, as well as how long to allocate time for each player is essential for creating the best team-building or training experience.
Here are just some suggestions for how long an ice breaker should be:
- If the meeting itself is a 20-minute daily standup, then a short and quick 10-minute icebreaker is perfect for getting the energy levels up. Play something that is fast-paced and that will wake the team up and prime everyone for creativity
- If the meeting is 60 minutes long and with people that you might not have met before, then try a 15-minute icebreaker. Use “Get to know you” icebreakers that focus on conversation (e.g. Question of the Day) as a way to warm up the crowd and build rapport.
The #1 List of Icebreaker Questions
Got a lot on the agenda but want a quick icebreaker to get everyone's productive energy up and running? We have a list of various questions that can serve as great icebreakers that will only take a few minutes to do before the meeting officially begins. Read on to see our ideas for quick icebreaker questions: from funny to informative, and even for when Christmas comes around.
Virtual Icebreaker Questions
1 . Have you run into any mishaps setting up online hangouts?
2 . What has been your most stress-inducing Zoom bug?
3 . How do you prepare for lengthy Zoom meetings?
4 . What is your home office setup like?
5. Anything stressful about working remotely?
6 . Do you work better outside or inside?
7 . What is your go-to work snack, if any?
8 . What do you do in your free time?
9 . Where is your primary workstation?
10 . Talk about one of the activities you did last night.
11 . Any accidental appearances of your pets during Zoom calls?
12 . Do you miss commuting to the office during the workweek?
13 . Have you ever worked from your bed?
14 . Do you work better during the day or at night?
15 . Is there anything you miss from office life?
16 . How do you keep yourself entertained during lunch breaks?
17 . What do you start your day with?
18 . Have you picked up or started learning any new skills lately?
19 . Have you listened to any new podcasts or audio programs?
20 . What is your favorite work beverage?
21 . Describe your work chair setup.
22 . What do you usually listen to whilst you work?
23 . How do you usually end a workday?
24 . What keeps you motivated?
25 . Have you ever done work at a coffee shop or somewhere that’s not the office/your home?
Funny Icebreaker Questions
1 . Who would you prefer to go out to dinner with: a clown or Shrek?
2 . What has been an embarrassing moment that happened to you as a child?
3 . What is your biggest pet peeve?
4 . Describe a friend of yours who has a unique talent.
5 . Have you ever confused a friend or family member for someone else?
6 . What is your most embarrassing restaurant experience?
7 . Have you ever named your car?
8 . Do you have any crazy stories about a past roommate?
9 . What was the worst party you attended?
10 . Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
11 . What was one thing you were afraid of as a child?
12 . What was your first ever CD purchase?
13 . Did you love a movie that was actually really bad?
14 . What was the most daring thing you ever did?
15 . What song is your guilty pleasure?
16 . What song can you not resist the urge to dance to?
17 . What is the worst thing you have cooked?
18 . What is your weirdest fast food order?
19 . Do you pour milk before or after putting cereal in a bowl?
20 . What is one thing you can’t resist to spend money on?
Great Icebreaker Questions
1 . If you could, would you choose to bring someone back to life? Who?
2 . What is your favorite board game?
3 . Where do you wish you could live?
4 . What is your dream job?
5 . What do you hope to do before you retire?
6 . What was your childhood dream job?
7 . If you were a celebrity, who would you be?
8 . If you were famous, what would it be for?
9 . If you could communicate to aliens, what would you first say to them?
10 . Which planet would you want to visit, given the chance?
11 . What is your favorite memory from your college days?
12 . Who would you like to see give a speech?
13 . If you could create an independent country, what would it be?
14 . What ‘Simulator’ game would you create?
15 . If you could only eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
16 . What is one thing you cannot live without?
17 . Would you wish to change lives with someone else, and who?
18 . Do you still listen to the radio?
19 . What was the first MP3 you downloaded?
20 . What was the first YouTube video you watched?
Best Icebreaker Questions for Meetings
1 . What did you do over the weekend?
2 . How do you begin your mornings?
3 . Do you prefer meetings first thing in the morning or last thing of the day?
4 . Have you ever had to do an all-nighter?
5 . What was your favorite birthday (at what age)?
6 . What was your most memorable taxi or bus ride?
7 . Describe your scariest nightmare.
8 . What is your favorite ride at Disneyland?
9 . Where is your favorite place to get coffee?
10 . What are you looking forward to this Christmas?
11 . What is one thing you are grateful for this year?
12 . What is one thing in the past you wish you could have done differently?
13 . What was your high school prom like?
14 . How did your high school/college graduation go?
15 . Have you ever seen a musical show?
16 . What is one animal you wish you had as a pet?
17 . What TV shows have you watched lately?
18 . If you could, would you implement Universal Basic Income (UBI) in every country in the world?
19 . Describe the best dream you dreamt recently.
20 . What is one fictional character you wish you could bring to real life?
21 . Would you rather be reincarnated as a sea creature or an airborne creature?
22 . Would you rather be smart but a total jerk or really sweet but really dumb?
23 . Are you more daring or are you more reserved?
24 . Would you rather take risks or play it safe?
25 . What is one global crisis you wish you could provide the solution to solve?
26 . Would you ever try to live off the grid for a few weeks?
27 . What is one thing you regret not doing?
28 . What is your preferred way to travel?
29 . What is your most cringe-inducing memory you are willing to share?
30 . What is one film or TV show you wish got more attention?
31 . If you could bring back a discontinued product, what would it be?
32 . Recommend one book that everyone should read.
33 . Describe one of your favorite hobbies, and why someone might be interested in it too.
34 . What is one thing you admit you are addicted to?
35 . Who is one of your biggest inspirations, and why?
Awkward, Weird Icebreaker Questions
1 . Have you ever loved something that was so bad?
2 . Have you ever forgotten your passport while travelling? If so, what happened?
3 . Have you ever accidentally called someone else your ‘mom’ or ‘dad’?
4 . What is your most awkward travel story?
5 . Do you think you are very absent minded?
6 . When was the worst time you were forgetful?
7 . Have you ever mispronounced a word?
8 . When was the last time you got lost?
9 . Have you ever not dressed for the occasion/right weather?
10 . What was the weirdest movie you've ever seen?
If You Could Icebreaker Questions
1 . If you could, would you choose to bring someone back to life? Who?
2 . If you could, would you relocate out of planet Earth?
3 . If you could, would you live in outer space for a year?
4. If you could, would you accept the ability to be invisible?
5 . If you could, would you choose to work your dream job forever?
6 . If you could, would you make it summer or winter all year round?
7 . If you could, would you implement Universal Basic Income (UBI) in every country in the world?
8 . If you could, would you eliminate global warming altogether?
9 . If you could, would you make a meat-free lifestyle mandatory for everyone?
10 . If you could, would you make everyone strictly carnivores?
11 . If you could, would you turn everyone into animals?
12 . If you could, would you resolve world hunger?
13 . If you could, would you ensure no wars would ever break out?
14 . If you could, would you allow yourself to be President?
15 . If you could, would you never have to work another day again?
16 . If you could, would you ensure no one was homeless?
17 . If you could, would you live your teenage years again?
18 . If you could, would you choose another life?
19 . If you could, would you go on a vacation that lasted indefinitely?
20 . If you could, would you ensure we never ran out of oil?
21 . If you could, would you incorporate potatoes into everything we ate?
22 . If you could, would you get rid of social media completely?
23 . If you could, would you make every college free-for-all?
24 . If you could, would you go back to school?
25 . If you could, would you accept the ability to read and memorise every book?
Would You Rather Icebreaker Questions
1 .Would you rather live in reality for the rest of your life or be in the matrix for the rest of your life?
2 .Would you rather never get tired or never have to go to the bathroom?
3 .Would you rather have to always hop around on one foot or have to always squat?
4 .Would you rather grow a ponytail down to your ankles or have a huge Adam's apple?
5 .Would you rather never be rejected ever again, or never fail ever again?
6 . Would you rather smell really bad or have really bad taste in music?
7 . Would you rather only be able to eat healthy foods or only eat junk food?
8 . Would you rather be reincarnated as a sea creature or an airborne creature?
9. Would you rather be smart but a total jerk or really sweet but really dumb?
10. Would you rather be incredibly skilled at an incredibly boring job or be incredibly unskilled at an incredibly interesting job?
Icebreaker Questions for High School Students
1 . What are your plans after you graduate?
2 . What after school activities do you participate in, if any?
3 . Is there a dream college/university you currently have?
4 . What are some of your favorite memories from senior year?
5 . What do you hope to accomplish in the next year or two?
6 . What are your favorite weekend activities to do?
7 . Have you participated in any school productions/plays?
8 . What has been your least favorite moment of the school year?
9 . Any plans for a senior class trip?
10. What ideas for a ‘senior prank’ would you like to see?
11 . Who has been your biggest inspiration throughout high school?
12 . If you could meet yourself as a freshman, what advice would you tell yourself?
13 . What is one thing you wish you knew about before starting high school?
14 . What is one way you wish you could leave your ‘legacy’ at high school before you graduate?
15 . Name one reason why you are friends with one of your best friends (what led you to you two establishing a friendship)?
Icebreaker Questions for College Students
1 . What was your best memory from your freshman year?
2. Which housing option did you go for (on-campus vs off-campus) and why?
3 . Do you have a part-time job while attending college? What kind of job/s?
4. What student clubs or associations do you participate in?
5 . Are you able to cook while attending college?
6. What is your favorite way to save money as a college student?
7. Have you ever had to do an all-nighter?
8. What has been your least favorite class or professor?
9 . What advice would you give to anyone about starting university life?
10 . What is your campus like? What do you like or dislike about it?
11 . Describe your college’s mascot.
12 . Do you prefer morning or night classes? Elaborate if you can why.
13 . What’s your favorite college ‘cheap eats’ option?
14 . Where is your preferred environment, or place to study?
15 . What are your goals after you complete your degree?
Icebreaker Questions for Kids
1 . What is your favorite film, and why?
2 . What is your favorite drink?
3 . What games do you like to play?
4 . Have you eaten anything great recently?
5. What is your dream vacation?
6 . What is your dream job?
7 . Do you have any pets? How many and what are they?
8 . What is your favorite animal?
9 . If you could make one of your dreams come true, what would it be?
10 . Do you have a nickname?
11 . What are some of your favorite TV shows?
12. Is there any food you dislike?
13 . Where would you like to travel to?
14 . What is a book you have read recently?
15 . What are your plans for the weekend?
Christmas Icebreaker Questions
1 . What would your ideal Christmas vacation be like?
2 . Did you ever ‘meet Santa’ as a child growing up?
3 . What is your favorite Christmas movie?
4 . What are your thoughts on gingerbread?
5. What was your favorite Christmas present you got? Your least favorite?
6 . What is your favorite Christmas beverage to have during the holiday season?
7 . What is your favorite Christmas carol/song?
8 . How do you decide what Christmas gifts to get for your friends and family?
9 . What is your idea of a ‘Christmas miracle’?
10 . What do you typically do with friends and family during Christmas break?
You should hopefully by now understand the power of icebreaker games. If you're still not convinced about the power that games can have on team cohesion, you can check out some different styles of games including the classic social deduction game Werewolf - which although not an icebreaker, is perfect for team building.