An ‘icebreaker’ can be a very useful and powerful tool on many occasions. For instance, to help members to bond in a newly formed team, to understand your team members better, to acquaint participants from different backgrounds in training, etc.

I can still recollect how surprised I was when I heard some of my colleagues addressing the icebreaker ‘tell us about one fact that we don’t know about you. After years of working with the people in the same team, it is amazing to get to know the real people and how smart, talented, and unique everyone is.

Now after transforming from a project management consultant to an Agile Trainer, icebreakers helped me to build rapport with all kinds of participants, instigate a safe and fun learning environment, and encourage engagement and teamwork within days of training.

I have summarised some of my top list of icebreaker questions, guidelines, and tips for using icebreakers, which I use while facilitating my training programs. And I hope they can provide some help to you. I have hand-picked icebreaker questions and categorize them into 5 groups vaguely. The reason why I said ‘vaguely’ is that most of the questions can fit in multiple categories, depending on the context, objective, the way they are used, and of course your perspectives.

So from “would you rather’s” to “if you could do anything,” hopes, fears, favorite foods and favorite things to everything in between, here we have the top 50 list of fun icebreaker questions!

Our first set is about getting to Know Your Team for the First Time: Good icebreakers here include –

  1. Tell us about your name and how did you get your name?
  2. If you are going to use an adjective to describe yourself, which word you are going to choose? (e.g. Mighty Ming)
  3. Tell us one fun fact about yourself.
  4. Name one thing that you are unbeatable at.
  5. If you were famous, what would you be famous for?
  6. What would the title of your autobiography be?
  7. What sport would you compete in if you were in the Olympics?
  8. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  9.  If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?
  10.  What are your hopes, fears, and expectations (e.g. for this training program)?

These questions are introductory, relevant, and simple. They are great to get participants to know each other, having fun, creating connections, building confidence speaking in front of the group, and lay the foundation to bring individuals together to work in teams. Even in the days of remote teams and virtual meetings on Zoom, these work well as virtual icebreakers too!

Ming’s Top Tip: Don’t underestimate the introductory icebreaker. It sets the tone for the event. Let the fun begin!

Get to Know Your Team Better: Questions 11-20 look more at the rest of your life, bucket lists and other team building questions to help you know your team and all new employees better.

  1. If you could keep/change one part of your work/life routine, what would it be?
  2. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
  3. If you could do anything in the world as your career, what would you be? (You could also talk about a favorite place to visit for instance as an alternate too)
  4. If you were left on a deserted island or post-zombie apocalypse with either your worst enemy or no one, what would you choose and why?
  5. Which decade do you love the most (e.g. 60s, 70s, 80s, etc.), and what is the reason for your choice? Could be a pop culture reference such as a TV show or fashion trend, music, favorite movie, etc.
  6. What would you do with your time if you have won a million dollar / pound lottery jackpot?
  7. If you had to eat the same meal every day for the next year, what would you pick?
  8. What do you do to stay active / relieve stress?
  9. What’s something new you’ve learned about yourself in the last three months?
  10. Name one thing that you have completed recently that you are proud of. (Variation: Have you been pleasantly surprised by anything recently?)

These questions aim to ‘dig deeper and understand a bit more about your team members. They can be work-related or else, depending on your objectives. Bear in mind that it might take a bit more effort for some people to open up, so assure them of the safe environment, confirm that there is no right or wrong answer, and encourage participation and employee engagement.

Ming’s Top Tip: There are a lot of variations on the questions you can choose from. Be aware of your team’s context and readiness, and help people to build trust and establish rapport. Also, try to avoid culturally or politically sensitive topics in discussions as those can create distrust and awkward silences. Remember, the objective with a great icebreaker is to break the ‘ice’, not the ‘iceberg’. Keep things light, hence the use of funny icebreaker questions and gentler topics like pop culture, trivia and travel.

Understand / Evaluate the Current State with these additional icebreaker questions for work –

  1. What give you the unbounded happiness at work / in life? (Variation: When was the last time you felt unbounded optimism?)
  2. How would you describe your work/lifestyle in 3 words?
  3. Who has made a positive difference in your work/life recently? (Variation: What’s a time when someone did something you appreciated at work or in another context, but you didn’t let them know? What held you back?)
  4. What are some strategies that you’ve found to be helpful in your recent work? (Variation: Name one useful productivity hack you have learned recently.)
  5.  If you had to give a lecture on one thing you are great at, what would it be? (Variation: If you could write a book that was guaranteed to be a best-seller, what would you write?)
  6. What would you change if you have a magic wand and can change absolutely anything in your current work/life? (Variation: If you could eliminate one thing from your daily routine, what would it be and why?)
  7. If you had to describe how you’re feeling right now as a weather pattern, what’s your forecast? (Variation: What emoji represents you today and why?)
  8. Are you aware of any aspects of your personality that hold you back? How do you adapt?
  9. Name one thing you’ve been procrastinating on and can’t finish. What are your next steps?
  10. What’s one of the biggest risks you’ve taken in your career/life? How do you feel about having taken it?

These icebreakers help to initiate an open discussion on ‘where we are. They are very useful for revealing insights and creating awareness for team members, but often require a certain level of team establishment and knowledge of the people and work.

Ming’s Top Tip: Evaluation is important for team members to understand where we are all standing and realign to our (common) goal. For the things we do well, encourage people to celebrate success and think about how we can create impactful results. For the things we don’t do so well, encourage people to think about what we can improve and the action plan.

Agile training

Understand Team Member’s Desires with these icebreaker games and questions:

  1. What would your absolute dream job/life be like?
  2. If you could instantly become an expert in something, what would it be? (Variation: If you could learn one new professional/personal skill, what would it be?)
  3. If you could have one superpower today, what would it be, and for what purpose?
  4. Name one small thing that would improve your day today/job satisfaction?
  5. What’s something that puts you in a state of flow? (Variation: What are you doing when you feel most alive?)
  6. A genie appears and grants you a wish for someone else in the world. Who and what do you make a wish for?
  7. If you could rid the world of one last thing, what would it be? (Variation: What’s one thing that you could stop doing to give yourself more focus?)
  8. What’s something you would change if you run the world?
  9. If you had a magic button on your desk to bring you whatever you wanted, what would it summon?
  10. If you have the power of teleportation right now, where would you go and why?

These questions are very useful to initiate a discussion on ‘where we want to be’. They are fun and help you to tap into people’s desires, what motivates them, and what they want to do or change. They are simple to use yet powerful to instigate thinking and action at both individual and team levels.

Ming’s Top Tip: Everyone has inner desires that need to be fulfilled. Some of them are less obvious than others. These are the reason we work hard. If you are trying to build an effective and high-performing team, start by understanding their vision and motivation.

Funniest team questions that look at a fun way to explore your teams creativity:

  1. If aliens landed on earth and offered to take you with them, would you go?
  2. What would be the most surprising scientific discovery imaginable?
  3. What is your favorite magical or mythological animal? Alternate version could be about a cartoon character or movie star.
  4. What is one thing we would never guess about you?
  5. What current fact about your life would most impress your five-year-old self?
  6. According to you, what looks ‘easy peasy lemon squeezy’ but is actually ‘difficult difficult lemon difficult’?
  7. What’s your guilty pleasure right now? Maybe ice cream, talk shows or karaoke?
  8. What is one thing you do that gives you child-like joy?
  9. What would you do if you came home and found a penguin in your freezer?
  10. If you could choose any two to four famous people to have dinner with, who would they be?

These questions often take people by surprise and bring a smile to their faces. In my facilitation, I use laughter as the catalyst for team energy. When you observe the energy of the room is a bit low, it’s time to have some fun! Talk about favorite ways to go about ones day.

Ming’s Top Tip: Let your imagination go wild! There are a lot of questions you can use. The key here is to have fun! As Maya Angelou rightly said, ‘people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’. Plan and anchor them with happy emotions. Also, listen to people’s answers and be ready to be surprised by their creativity!

In summary, I have hand-picked some of the useful team meeting icebreaker questions which I use personally in training and facilitation and even virtual team building activities in recent years. You can use these for work, or simply build relationships with people around you. One thing I’d like to advise is, don’t wait for the best occasion to use these icebreakers, start applying them to facilitate the introduction, discussion, and team building in your events. See how that serves your purpose and adapt accordingly. If you are interested to learn more about how to design and facilitate events and learn more facilitation tools and techniques, join us in our flagship Agile Team Facilitation (ICP-ATF) virtual course!

I hope you find them useful. I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions, success stories, or anything else you’d like to see in my blog.

Looking for some team-building activities in the virtual setting? Download the Virtual Team Building Exercise to learn simple and effective exercises you can conduct with your team straight away!