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6 Meeting Icebreakers you need to know in 2024 - Plus: Bonusquestions

February 6, 2024
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Starting a meeting can be awkward, especially if attendees don't know each other. An uncomfortable silence can fill the room as everyone settles in and waits for the presentation or meeting to start. Small talk often falls flat and some participants slink down in their chairs scrolling aimlessly on their phones to avoid making eye contact.

Beginning a meeting this way leads to disengaged attendees who don't actively participate even once the content starts. It can be hard to get the focus back once people mentally check out. This lack of engagement gets amplified in a virtual setting where people are more easily distracted by off-camera activities.

An icebreaker is a great solution to awkward meeting openings by getting everyone engaged right from the start. Icebreakers are short, introductory activities that help attendees open up, get comfortable, and make connections with others in the room or call. They immediately grab attention, spark conversations, generate laughs, and prevent people from hiding behind their screens.

Effective icebreakers set the stage for heightened engagement, idea sharing, and relationship building throughout your entire meeting. They can also provide insight into the personalities, backgrounds, skills, and interests of the people you’ve gathered.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about icebreakers including:

  • Defining what an icebreaker is
  • Different types and examples
  • Key considerations when selecting icebreakers
  • An icebreaker question bank
  • Tips for facilitating successful icebreakers

Thoughtful use of icebreakers makes meetings more productive, enjoyable, and inclusive for both in-person settings and virtual teams. Read on to transform lackluster meetings into lively, engaging events.

What is an Icebreaker?

An icebreaker is a short, participatory activity used to kick off a meeting or event. The goal is to "break the ice" by getting attendees comfortable engaging with each other and the facilitator right from the start.

Icebreakers set the tone and encourage the behaviors you want to see throughout the remainder of your meeting, such as participation, creativity and listening skills. They transition attendees' focus from their individual distractions and responsibilities before the meeting to being fully present and ready to contribute.

These activities range from fun games to thoughtful reflections, with questions and prompts carefully designed to extract introductory information from participants. Sharing something about yourself, even if seemingly inconsequential like your favorite snack or childhood aspiration, increases comfortability levels and begins relationship building.

Common meeting icebreaker goals include:

  • Generating excitement, positive energy and laughter
  • Sparking conversations between colleagues
  • Learning about attendees' backgrounds, personalities and interests
  • Encouraging creativity and thinking "outside the box"
  • Breaking down barriers between senior leaders and staff members
  • Promoting inclusiveness for remote participants or outsiders to the organization

Well-designed icebreakers seamlessly transition into productive meetings where attendees feel connected, understood, and ready to actively contribute rather than passively listen.

3 examples of Energetic Icebreakers

Energetic games and activities work well when trying to hype up the team or break down barriers. The goal is getting people relaxed and ready to have fun.

Two Truths and a Lie

The Two Truths and a Lie icebreaker is a classic for a reason – it gently pushes participants to share interesting facts about themselves while trying to detect who is telling a lie.

How it Works

  1. Each participant prepares three statements about themselves – two true statements and one lie. The statements should be intriguing facts that are not easily proven or disproven. They can range from childhood stories, to proudest moments, to exciting hobbies, to personal adventures.
  2. Taking turns, each person shares their three statements while the rest of the group listens closely for any contradictory body language or vocal intonation that may indicate a lie.
  3. Once everyone has shared their three statements, the group votes on which one they believe to be the lie. You can make this more lively by having people stand up and mill around discussing their guesses in small groups before voting.
  4. Finally, invite each participant to reveal which statement was their lie.


This icebreaker generates lots of laughter, friendly arguments, and astonishment over incredible facts shared about each person. It brings out everyone's natural lie-detecting skills. Two Truths and a Lie is an engaging way to quickly give everyone a spotlight to share what makes them unique while practicing listening skills. The activity also shows that we can't judge a book by its cover - even seemingly basic colleagues lead exciting double lives!

Human Bingo

Human Bingo guarantees lively participant mingling as they search for peers who can sign off accomplishment-based bingo squares. The competitive element incentivizes learning fascinating nuggets about everyone in the room.

How it Works

  1. Prepare bingo cards with different descriptors in each square. Examples include “speaks more than 2 languages”, “has run a marathon”, “lived abroad”, “plays a musical instrument”. Use a mix of personal hobbies, skills, experiences and accomplishments.
  2. Print cards with the descriptors randomly ordered so each participant has a unique bingo card. Bring a stack of pens or markers for signing cards.
  3. Explain that participants must circulate the room finding peers who match the descriptor for each box and collect their signature in that square. The first person to complete a row (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) wins.


As colleagues ask each other rapid-fire questions trying to complete their bingo card, bonds strengthen over discovering shared experiences and admiring impressive accomplishments. The dash to find someone who “can cook a 5-course meal” or “has hiked Machu Picchu” generates infectious enthusiasm. Laughter fills the room and friendly rivalries heat up, preparing everyone for active idea exchange during your meeting.

Marooned on an Island

The Marooned on an Island activity challenges teams to reach consensus on the most critical items needed to survive if stranded on a deserted island. The problem solving and debate reveals team preferences and decision making abilities.

How it Works

  1. Break participants into small teams of 4-6 people.
  2. Explain that each team must draft a list of 5 items to bring if they were about to be marooned on a tropical island for an unknown period of time. They can choose anything they believe would help them survive and escape the island.
  3. Give teams 5-10 minutes to discuss and debate their choices as they narrow down to the 5 most critical items from all their collective ideas.
  4. After the team lists are complete, have each group share out their 5 items and explain why they chose those for survival over other options.


As teams passionately defend whether fire starter kits or satellite phones will best ensure their rescue from the island, you’ll witness first-hand their creativity, team dynamics and reasoning skills. The friendly debates continue as groups question each other’s choices, re-asserting why their tool is more critical than another team’s. This leads to thoughtful discussions comparing the advantages of items like fishing poles vs flare guns, solar chargers vs Swiss army knives. The activity demonstrates the power of teamwork when groups outperform the individual suggestions participants originally brought forward before collaborating. It also highlights gaps like when no one thought of basic needs like food and water. The impactful discussions set the stage for teams to be receptive listeners, synthesizers and evaluators of alternative ideas shared throughout your meeting.

3 examples of Virtual Icebreakers

Icebreakers work just as well in virtual meetings as they do face-to-face. The key is incorporating activities that transition scattered remote participants into engaged, attentive meeting attendees.

Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Send attendees on a scavenger hunt looking for items around their home office to break the barrier of only seeing everyone's faces.

How it Works:

  1. The host shares a list of mundane items most people likely have at home, like a spoon, something yellow, or a stuffed animal.
  2. Attendees race to find the items then proudly display them to the camera and share where in their house it was retrieved when called upon.
  3. You can make it more challenging by using obscure items only some attendees might possess.

This allows you to still feel co-located through glimpses into each other’s personal spaces and lives rather than just static photos on-screen.

Two Lies and a Truth (Virtual Edition)

Adapt the in-person Two Truths and a Lie to the virtual setting by leveraging breakout room debates.

How it Works:

  1. Have each attendee come up with two false statements and one true statement about themselves and write them in the chat box without context on which are true.
  2. Next, use breakout room discussions to debate which statement from each person you believe is the truth.
  3. Finally, come back to the main room and vote on the truths and lies.

This facilitates more meaningful small group conversations than playing in the main room, while allowing everyone to eventually reveal intimate details and learn about each other.

Emoji Check-In

Kick off virtual meetings with a quick emoji pulse check-in to break the tension before diving into heavy discussions.

How it Works:

  1. privately DM each attendee an emoji that represents how you perceive their mindset/mood entering the meeting based on recent interactions.
  2. Ask attendees to guess who sent them that emoji and explain in the chat why they think someone chose that emoji to depict them.
  3. Reveal who sent which emoji to whom and enjoy some laughs over your reads of each other's energies and moods, before carrying on with your meeting agenda.

The revelations provide glimpses into how people perceive each other across the remote environment leading to stronger bonds.

Key Considerations for Icebreakers

Choosing the right icebreaker sets a positive tone that carries through the rest of your meeting. Keep these key considerations in mind:

  1. Know Your Audience

Get familiar with attendee backgrounds ahead of time so you can choose icebreakers eliciting common experiences. Consider things like:

  • Seniority levels - Balance activities for both the CEO and interns
  • Cultures - Respect sensitivities around topics like personal space, competitiveness, or oversharing
  • Group dynamics - If there are tensions between teams address that head on with unite-the-groups activities
  • Meeting purpose - Align to set an appropriate mood whether it is creative ideation or consensus building

Taking audience demographics into account for an inclusive icebreaker guarantees full participation rather than something inadvertently alienating certain attendees.

  1. Time Limitations

Keep icebreakers under 10 minutes since the goal is kicking off productive conversations, not filling time.  Extend your meeting invite 15 minutes pre-start to fit an icebreaker in without encroaching on scheduled discussion. When pressed for time, have attendees share quick responses simultaneously with tools like polls, whiteboarding, chat windows etc.

  1. Adaptability

Things don't always go as expected when facilitating icebreakers.  Some fall flat while others spark passionate debate.  Be ready to punt an activity entirely or build on positive momentum.

  1. Inclusiveness

Some personalities jump to answer icebreaker questions while others need coaxing to open up. Facilitate activities drawing out introverts, remote team members and outliers as much as extroverts in the room.

Foster psychological safety allowing attendees to self-censor if uncomfortable, but also stretch people’s comfort zones so everyone feels welcome to contribute something personal.

Bonus: 16 Icebreaker questions

Having a bank of icebreaker questions on hand allows you to quickly tailor activities to your meeting audience and purpose. Mix and match from these examples:

  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • What is your favorite family tradition?
  • Name three things on your bucket list.
  • What skill would you like to master this year?
  • What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
  • What is your earliest childhood memory?
  • What would a perfect day look like for you?
  • What personal or professional achievements make you most proud?
  • What motivates you on Monday mornings to go to work?
  • If you could have dinner with any one person dead or alive, who would it be?
  • What is one item you would save from your house if it caught fire?
  • Introverts - what do extroverts need to know about how to work with you? Extroverts - what powers your energy?
  • Cats or dogs? Mountains or beach? Sweet or salty? Introspection or action?
  • What is your favorite family tradition?
  • Morning person or night owl?
  • What legacy do you want to leave behind?

Leverage a starting list like this to jumpstart creating personalized icebreakers matching your specific meeting and attendees. Having quick go-to questions helps take the pressure off blankly coming up with ideas on the spot. But always tailor the activity based on who is present to increase engagement over just relying on a generic list of icebreaker questions.


Starting meetings with evocative icebreakers transforms groups of distracted individuals into cohesive, engaged teams ready to tackle important discussions. Selecting the right activity that resonates with attendees makes them receptive listeners and active participants in what follows rather than passive spectators.

Energetic games elicit playfulness, imagination, and relationship building. Thoughtful reflections uncover common ground and deeper understandings of motivations. Virtual icebreakers shrink the distance between remote participants. Group dynamics and individual personalities reveal themselves within well-facilitated icebreaker exchanges.

With the framework and examples provided in this guide, you are equipped to inject the opening minutes of your next meeting with interaction sparking engagement and enjoyment. Keep the goals, types of icebreakers, important considerations, and facilitation tips top of mind as you design the perfect introduction for your specific audience.

An awkward silence need never again permeate the opening of a meeting. Have some fun and see where the conversations lead when you kick off your next gathering with an impactful icebreaker!