What Are The Best Icebreaker Questions?

Are you tired of asking icebreaker questions that trigger eye rolls, groans or yawns?

Did you know there’s both an art and a science to asking effective icebreaker questions?

In this post, I’ll share what makes a great icebreaker question and my list of the top ten best icebreaker questions.

Click play below to get started, or read on…


The Best Icebreaker Question (Bar None)


Imagine a speed dating event.

Two concentric circles of seats, set up with half the group seated in the inner circle while the folks in the outer circle move around in a clockwise direction with 5 minutes to introduce themselves and make their case, before moving onto the next person.

The story goes that everyone spends their 5 minutes talking about themselves, selling their merits, etc, etc.

Except one.

This person asked every person they met one, simple question…

“What can I do to make you happy for the rest of your life?”


Needless to say, this person got a thumbs up from everyone they met.


What Makes A Great Question?


This unique, single question works so well as a question because it shows that the interrogator is interested in the other person, not themselves.

This reminds me of a saying a good friend once shared with me:

“The most interesting people in the world are those who are interested in you.”

This is so true.

So, in the context of building and nourishing relationships, what makes a good ice-breaker question?

I believe there is both an art and a science to this answer, both of which are captured in the following thoughts:

  • Start Small

    Don’t ask for too much too soon, lest you frighten people away. Chip away at the ice, don’t bring a sledgehammer to it. For example, ask fun yet interesting questions that meet people where they are at. Also, start in pairs and resist the urge to ask open, large group questions expecting one person to share in front of everyone. Kick off with simple, easy-to-answer questions and build up to those that require deeper, more reflective thought.

  • Avoid Superlatives

    Asking questions that seek the best, most, highest, etc are risky such as “Tell us your most valuable life lesson?…” Questions like these stunt interaction because some people will struggle to consider what is their ‘best’ or ‘most’ valuable lesson, so they settle for saying nothing. Whereas, if you ask the question slightly differently “Tell us about one of your most valuable lessons in life?…” this will spark reflection about ANY lesson. This then gives the participant options, which leads me to my next point…

  • Honour Choice

    This is one of my most powerful philosophical tools and must be liberally applied in all experiences that seek to break the ice. Honour people’s choices to answer the question any way they choose – perhaps, not to answer the question, or to respond in a way that makes them feel more comfortable, or respond in a particular way, etc. Using open-ended questions that are not laden with superlatives makes it so much easier for people to respond.

  • Allow Time for Reflection

    Unlike those (like me) who are ready to respond to a question at the drop of a hat, give your group ample time to respond. Allow some silence at the end of your question, even though the passage of time often feels 10 times longer than it really is. You may also need to manage the overly enthusiastic to give airtime to others less inclined to jump in quickly. In particular, research has shown that introverts are very eager to respond, they sometimes just need more time to reflect before they respond.


Ten of the Best Icebreaker Questions


Context matters, so it is unfair to suggest, dear reader, that THIS is the best list of questions. This is simply not possible, there are just too many to draw on and every group is different.

More reasonably, I hope you will be inspired by the following icebreaker questions.

Mixed with a liberal dose of my facilitation tips above, you have my permission to adapt the following ten questions based on the needs of your group, your program goals, and the change you want to make in the world.

Note the questions (generally) build in their intensity and depth.

  • Describe a time that made you smile in the last 2 weeks.
  • What is the strangest thing you used to believe as a child?
  • What is something that amazes you?
  • What brings you joy?
  • What was the last thing you fell in love with?
  • Tell the story of one of the most adventurous things you’ve ever done?
  • What do you lose track of time doing?
  • What are you capable of?
  • What is a simple idea you take very seriously?
  • What’s something you never thought you’d be doing and, yet, here you are?


To be honest, I want to add SOOOO many more questions to this list but I’ll keep it brief for now, and revisit this topic again soon.

Please… beg, borrow and steal these questions and integrate them into your programs. May they lead to lots of wonderful moments of sharing and connection.


Last Minute Tip: Ice-Breaker Question Exchange


Got a hankering for dozens more fun and interesting icebreaker questions?

Be sure to check out Ice-Breaker Question Exchange and visit the Resources tab to download a bunch of Print+Play question cards ready to share with your group.

View Ice-Breaker Question Exchange


Even better, why not add your favourite icebreaker question in the Comments below.


Original post Jun 2021, last updated Jun 2024.


Comments (3)

  1. texasteambuilder

    These are great. Also had success with “What was your first paycheck job?”

  2. Jed Buck

    I love:

    What is one mistake you have made that you won’t make again?

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