Best Ice Breakers For Meetings

What are the best Ice Breakers for meetings? If you want to use Ice Breakers in meetings then you need to use the right ones that will work in the type of meeting you are planning.

Most people think ice breakers are for training sessions, presentations and seminars but they don’t realize they are also a fantastic way to start small meetings too. Especially if the topic of the meeting is a bit contentious or you think some of the participants might have turned up with some preconceived opinions and you want everyone to be open to what you need to discuss. A good meeting ice breaker is a way to get people in the right frame of mind before starting or even at a key time during the meeting, but you need the right type of Ice Breaker to do this.

Why Do You Need Ice Breakers in Meetings?

Meetings have a different atmosphere to training sessions or presentations and this can quite often have a negative impact on the outcome of them. If you want to have a productive meeting with a positive outcome then you need to create a good environment as soon as possible. This isn’t always easy as there are many factors that can get meetings off to a bad start:

Best Ice Breakers for Meetings
  • People from different departments can often have negative opinions on the other teams
  • People see that someone else is attending and this causes them to expect a bad meeting
  • People may have arrived in a bad mood due to something that happened prior to your meeting
  • People make assumptions about what the meeting is for and as a result they arrive already prepared to disagree
  • People might not know the other attendees and as such are apprehensive about the meeting

There are many more reasons why meetings can get off to a bad start but these should give you an idea of how a meeting can be quickly go off track if some of these reasons are present. Regardless of the possible reasons for a bad meeting good Ice breakers can help to create a good environment and ensure that everyone is at least starting in the right frame of mind.

Why Do Ice Breakers Work in Meetings

Have you ever walked into a meeting room and the atmosphere felt like there had been a big argument just before you arrived? As mentioned this can be caused by many different reasons but regardless of what caused it you need to find a way to fix it before you start otherwise your meeting is going to be really awkward. This is where a good Ice Breaker can help, first of all they will break the silence and get people engaged. Then they will get people talking to each other which will ease the nerves and distract those that arrived in bad form, a good Ice Breaker also helps the introverts as it helps them to open up and not be overwhelmed by the confident speakers in the room.

The best thing in my experience that Ice Breakers can do in meetings is to get everyone in the meeting onto some common ground before starting the meeting, this can be crucial if you need to have an open discussion that will ultimately lead to a decision. Getting everyone to understand each others point of view and to look at a topic in the right way is crucial to having a positive outcome.

Best Ice Breakers for Meetings

How Do I Choose The Right Ice Breaker

If you want to do this though you need to choose the right Ice Breaker for your meeting and I have found that choosing the right one requires two bits of information:

  1. What outcome do you need from your meeting
  2. What group of people are attending

Both of these points are crucial to having a good meeting

What Outcome Do You Need From Your Meeting

The most important thing you need to do and something that in my experience gets massively overlooked is to think about what you want to achieve with the meeting. If you have nothing to achieve at all then you need to consider whether you even need to have a meeting as an email will probably be enough. There are lots of reasons for having meetings but the main ones I have experienced are:

  • Information Sharing – Sometimes you need to get your team together to share information with them so you need them to pay attention and ensure they take in what you are saying
  • Decision Making – One of the most important types of meeting so you need the attendees to be open and ready to make a decision that is right for the business
  • Brainstorming – These are so important so you need everyone to feel open and confident in expressing their ideas

Each one of these is a different type of meeting but you need to know before you start what outcome you are looking for

What Are The People Attending Like

The second most important thing when deciding on Ice Breakers is the group of people attending as there are lots of different things to take into account:

Best Ice Breakers for Meetings
  • Are they all meeting for the first time – if so you need to get everyone introduced and feeling relaxed with each other
  • Are they all from different departments that might push against each other – with these you need to get them to see each others point of view and find common ground
  • Are there people from different levels of management – you may need to create a flat structure within the meeting to ensure everyone feels confident in speaking up
  • Are there certain people that have clashed previously – you will need to pay particular attention here and maybe even pair them up in an Ice Breaker

Best Ice Breakers For Meetings – Lets Choose Some

Please remember that these are not facts and are just my opinion on what I have found to work well in different meeting scenarios. Use these as a starting point and then experiment and find what works best for you. There are loads more and I will add a complete list here in the next few weeks. I have done some other posts for Ice Breakers in different scenarios and the links are below:

Mind Mapping

This is one of my favorites for when you need to discuss a topic with people that have different view points. You start with a big board and you put a topic in the middle, you give out post-it notes to everyone and they have 10 minutes to to write down everything they can think off that is related to the main topic and stick them on the board. Once they have finished the whole group have to put the topics into mini groups and discuss how they are connected. This gets people moving as you need to make sure they actually get up and stick them on the board but really helps everyone to see how other departments are affected by the topic.

Group Brainstorming

Similar to Mind Mapping but more of a discussion aimed at getting people to open up. You pose a question or a problem, it can be directly related to the topic of the meeting to get them thinking about it straight away or it can be unrelated. Everyone brainstorms to find ideas together, you can even break the group into smaller groups but make sure you pick the groups so you can decide who you want to work together.

Best Ice Breakers for Meetings


Ask everyone to reflect on how a topic has affected them and what problems they have faced on it. This helps everyone to understand what each person is experiencing and why.

Future Visioning

Ask everyone to outline what they would consider a successful outcome or resolution for the meeting’s objectives and share their visions with the group. This forward-looking activity can share help others to understand what you are hoping for.

Team SWOT Analysis

Divide the group into small teams and ask each one to analyse the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities or Threats of the meeting topic. They then present to the group to discuss, this encourages everyone to see the topic from all angles and they get to hear other perspectives.

If the people attending don’t know each other you can use some fun ones to get people talking

Best Ice Breakers for Meetings

Two truths and a lie

This is a really fun way to get to know everyone and learn more about them. Everyone gets a turn to share three statements about themselves, and the rest guess which one is the lie. It’s a casual way to spark conversations and also helps you to see who the creative ones are

Would You Rather?

This can be another fun one – Present participants with pairs of choices related to work or meeting dynamics and ask them to choose which they prefer and why. Just make sure the topics are not too sensitive…

Human Bingo:

Create bingo cards with different characteristics or experiences. Participants mingle to find people who match the descriptions and fill out their bingo cards. Example – “Have met someone famous”

The important thing at this stage is to choose an Ice Breaker that helps you towards what you want to achieve with the meeting and works for the group of people attending. If you want more ideas I wrote a post with a long list of Ice Breakers for Training Sessions as there are so many more that I think are suited to those sessions but can also be used in meetings too. I did a separate post on Ice Breakers for Presentations as this is a different scenario completely and needs different tools.

I hope these tips help you to make sure your meetings get off to the best possible start and have the best outcome, if you have any feedback or questions please let me know by leaving a comment below


2 thoughts on “Best Ice Breakers For Meetings”

  1. Fantastic post, Pete! You’ve done a great job of highlighting the value of ice breakers in creating a positive meeting atmosphere. I particularly appreciate your suggestions for tailoring the ice breakers to fit the specific needs of the meeting and the audience. The examples you provided, like Mind Mapping and Group Brainstorming, are very practical and seem like they could really help in aligning the group towards common goals. I’m curious to see the additional ideas you plan to add in the future. Thanks for sharing these insights; they’re definitely going to be useful for many of us looking to enhance our meeting environments!

    Gary S

    • Thanks for your feedback Gary and I am really glad that you liked the post, the main reason that I recommend Ice Breakers that are relevant to your group are because over the years I have seen people use ones that were just randomly selected. This can lead to them having no positive impact or even worse leaving attendees frustrated as they felt they were a waste of time, using activities that really engage the team in the meeting can lead to a much more positive outcome for everyone, so a win-win all round 🙂

      Thanks again 



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