I used to hate icebreakers when I attended meetings. As a facilitator, I’ve come to adore them. I’m especially fond of the results they yield when used over time: increased familiarity, ease and fun. Some of my clients incorporate them into all their meetings, using an offbeat question or two each time they meet. Nothing beats a personal question for breaking the ice and building a team, especially when you meet by phone. The best questions are the ones that let us see into the mundane in each other’s lives. Two of my favorite questions, “What CD is in your car right now?” and “What is the last book you read?” yield consistently hilarious results.
And, it’s simple and quick to do: Write 1-3 questions on a flipchart pad and give participants a 5-10 seconds of silence to come up with answers. Reiterate the rules for round robin (no discussion, time limit of 20 seconds for your answer), and let the fun begin. This is the best way for groups up to 16 or so. For larger groups, consider taking 24 questions and making a bingo game out of it.
Here’s a list of questions to get you started:
1. What CD is in your car?
2. What’s the last book you read?
3. Do you prefer to dance alone or with someone else?
4. What’s your favorite color?
5. What’s your favorite food
6. What’s your favorite dessert?
7. What’s your favorite vacation spot?
8. When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
9. What is the title of the novel you want to write?
10. What is your favorite song?
11. Who is your favorite singer?
12. Who is your favorite band?
13. Who is your favorite actor?
14. What is your all-time favorite movie?
15. What was the last movie you saw in a theatre?
16. If you could do/be anything, what would you do/be?
17. If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
18. What are the names of your pets?
19. Have you changed your name?
20. Where were you born?
21. Where did you go to school?
22. Do you have brothers or sisters? Their names?
23. Where are you in your family’s birth order? (oldest, middle, youngest, 4th, 5th, etc.)
24. Who is your favorite superhero?
There – that’s enough for a 5×5 bingo card, or for several meetings. Here’s a longer list. You can generate your own of course, or ask your team for ideas. Let me know how it goes.