Have you ever been part of a team building exercise that didn’t have enough warm up? It’s like pulling teeth!
Meetings are no different. When teams come together to work towards a common goal, work-related or otherwise, it’s hard to dive right in without establishing a rapport. This is why ice breakers for team meetings are so important.
Here, we’ve collected a pile of the easiest and funnest ice breakers and ice breaker questions we’ve used in meetings. What’s more, we made sure that every one of them can be used for both in-person and virtual meetings!
Read on for quick and humorous ice breakers and ice breaker questions to jump-start your next staff meeting.
Short on time? We put the quick ice breakers right at the top of this article just for you. Most of these are great for small meetings, but we’ve thrown some tips in for large meetings, too:
“Two Truths and A Lie” is a classic ice breaker game that has been used in classrooms, training, and various types of meetings for decades. Each participant takes a turn and makes two true statements and one false one, in any order. The other attendees each make a guess as to which statement is the lie. The participant then reveals who, if anyone, guessed correctly.
Does everyone in the meeting have a smartphone? Ask each participant to choose a favorite photo to share (for virtual meetings, they can share via email/text/Slack/etc. depending on your organization’s communication channels). Have them explain why they chose that photo. Bonus virtual option: Share photos of your home offices!
Demand silence for this challenging ice breaker. On 4 small pieces of paper ask each attendee to draw a circle, triangle, square, and rectangle—one shape per paper. Explain that the goal is to, without communicating with one another, all hold up the same shape at the same time. Give a “1, 2, 3” count for everyone to hold up a shape, examine the results, and put them down. Give another “1, 2, 3” count and do it again. As the team tries to silently reach a majority, there’s sure to be laughs.
For a large meeting, break people into groups of 2-4 (find out whether your remote meeting software supports breakout rooms, or create extra rooms in advance) at the top of the meeting. Ask these breakout groups to return as soon as possible with a list of 5 things they all have in common (besides being present at the same meeting, working at the same company, etc.). If you can, offer prizes for the first few groups back with acceptable answers.
Of course, the quickest ice breakers usually involve simply asking questions. Whether you use quick ice breaker questions for breakout groups, brief check-ins, or digging deeper with a small group, it’s important to find a balance between light and meaningful. Check out our list of meeting ice breaker questions below for inspiration.
We’ve all been in team building meetings where everyone answers the exact same ice breaker question. Interested in shaking things up? Ask every meeting attendee to first pick a number between one and ten. Once they’ve chosen, ask each attendee the corresponding question to their number below (or make your own):
An added level of ice breaker magic sometimes happens when participants choose their numbers. Team members may bond with others who choose the same number or note popular and unpopular numbers. Allow for tangential conversations about these observations and others if time allows. These off-script moments are where improved communication often begins.
Ice breakers for small meetings tend to move quickly. For large meeting ice breakers, especially if time is short, you may need to ask the whole group a few fun questions and simplify participant responses. These methods also serve as great ice breakers for virtual meetings of any size:
Try asking yes/no or this/that questions, using thumbs up/down or right/left hands to share answers. Use questions like “Coke or Pepsi?”, “Tropical vacation or ski trip?”, “Does pineapple belong on pizza?”, etc.
Allow participants to rate foods, music genres, authors, and other matters of taste on a scale of 1-5 by raising their hands and displaying their fingers. You can always dig deeper if there are outliers, like someone who uses their other hand to rate pickles an “8” while another shows a “0” rating with their fist.
Humor can enhance group cohesiveness, improve employee morale, stimulate creativity, create positive culture, and promote motivation, according to multiple studies cited in The Psychology of Humor at Work. With so many benefits, it’s no surprise that humorous ice breakers are in demand!
Here are some funny ice breakers sure to generate some laughs:
Have everyone cover their teeth by pulling their lips inward, then go around the meeting and have each person introduce themselves, saying their name twice. It will sound funny, but it’s not over yet!
The game begins when the meeting leader says their own name twice, then any other attendee’s name twice, effectively re-introducing and “passing it on” to that person. The named attendee then says their own name twice again, and someone else’s twice, again passing the turn. Continue until everyone has had at least one turn—giggles are guaranteed.
One way to ensure laughs, surprisingly, is to tell people not to laugh. Demand a straight face for this one, but tell attendees that they must respond to all questions you ask them with the answer “my smelly boot.” If they laugh, they’re out! One by one, ask each attendee questions like, “What did you eat for breakfast today?”, “What’s the coolest pet you ever had?”, or “Where do you store your most precious possessions?”
Circle back to attendees who manage to answer with a straight face and see if you can wear them down until just one person is left. Alternatively, declare anyone left after three rounds a winner! You can also replace “my smelly boot” with an office in-joke, like “call the copier repair service” or “you’re on mute”.
Have each meeting attendee select a random nearby object. It could be a pen, a paperweight, the clock on the wall, a shoe—anything everyone can see. After selecting their object, tell participants that they must now give a 30-second presentation on why the object they’ve selected is the most valuable object on Earth (or any other silly prompt you come up with).
From funny ice breakers to asking the right questions, virtual ice breakers can be just as effective as in-person ones. With tools like Hugo on your side, you can reclaim fun, productive team meetings no matter how distributed your teams are.
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