I recently gave a keynote at a large company’s regional meeting. As with most organizations, I noticed before my arrival and during my time with this company that there was a deeply rooted culture of “small talk” questions: How are you? What do you do? How was your weekend? Where are you from?
First, I asked the audience, “What do you typically ask when you first meet someone?” As anticipated, nearly everyone in the room responded with a few old and overused questions like: How are you? What do you do? Where are you from?
Then I asked the group, “By a show of hands, how many of you really love small talk?” Only two out of 400 hands went up.
I paused. “Okay, now how many of you have had 5 or more conversations that you would categorize as small talk in the last 24 hours?” All 400 hands in the room went up.
There is a major divide between the conversations that we think we’re supposed to have on a regular basis and the ones that we truly want to have.
Would you like to hear a better way to ask more powerful questions?
Below the video, there is a link to download a free, printable version of 12 of the best “icebreaker” questions to mix up how you connect with your team. These are questions that have been crafted by over a dozen facilitation experts, and each question is one of my personal favorites. Enjoy!
This “small talk conversation rut” is exactly why we created We! Connect Cards, which is a deck of cards with 60 questions and 10+ conversation starter activities that are designed for teambuilding and trust building in a real way.
The 12 printable questions below are meant to create conversations that matter.
We pulled these 12 printable icebreaker questions from the 60 questions in the We! Connect Cards deck. Each question has been deliberately written to be accessible to a corporate, education, non-profit, and community audience. They are questions that invite authenticity and stories. They are not your typical, terrible “icebreaker” questions. You will not find questions like “What is your favorite spice?” on this list. Rather, these questions are designed to build relationships of trust by accessing a deeper conversation that is rarely shared between acquaintances, colleagues, or even friends. And a nice little bonus is this: the questions have been intentionally color coded to give both introverts and extroverts choice in how they connect.
The strategic intention we put into creating this deck of cards and the accompanying team activities is why thousands of organizations in 50+ countries around the world are using We! Connect Cards to build a culture of trust and engagement by creating genuine, human connections.
If you hate printing things, here is the list of 12 of the best icebreaker questions to create conversations that matter with your co-workers, friends, and acquaintances. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend just walking up to somebody at a networking event and asking, “what is life teaching you about right now?” Unless, of course, you enjoy weird looks “positive social risks.”
Questions that “encourage some level of self reflection” (i.e., purple questions)
- What is something that you recently discovered that you are excited about?
- What is something you know really well?
- What are your hopes for what the future holds for you?
- What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
Questions that are “fun and light” (i.e., green questions)
- What is the strangest thing you used to believe as a child?
- What is one of your favorite topics of conversation?
- What is something that amazes you?
- What made you smile in the last two weeks?
Questions that are “a bit deeper” (i.e., blue questions)
- How did you learn your most important lesson in life?
- What would you do differently if nobody would judge you?
- If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?
- What is one thing you want to accomplish in your lifetime?
We hope you enjoy these questions! Now stop reading and start connecting!