Icebreakers for Meetings and Workshops (In-Person, Remote, or Hybrid)

Simon Tratnik
  • 4
    min read
  • Simon Tratnik
    Apr 13, 2023

A successful workshop hinges on a potent icebreaker. Imagine getting your team together—whether in a room or virtually—but failing to ignite that creative spark. The solution? A well-chosen icebreaker to set the tone. In this comprehensive guide, discover six unbeatable icebreakers designed to work seamlessly in in-person, remote, and hybrid workshops.

Why Icebreakers Are an Essential Workshop Tool

Icebreakers serve as the perfect kick-start to any workshop or meeting, setting the tone for an engaging and collaborative environment. Their value should not be underestimated; they're the first step in shifting from individual to group thinking, from hesitance to participation.

One of the biggest mistakes I used to make is that I would jump right into the workshop without a warm-up. I wouldn't do anything to break the ice in the room. I've tried silly ones, boring ones, and almost every possible exercise. But here are the few icebreakers that almost always succeed in breaking the ice and warming up people.

Ready to become a workshop hero? Below, find six prime icebreakers that have proven to be crowd-pleasers time and time again.

A lively group of diverse professionals engaged in a creative icebreaker activity during an in-person workshop. The image captures the energy and enthusiasm as they collaborate and laugh together, embodying the spirit of teamwork and collaboration.

Icebreaker #1: The 'My First Job' Method

This icebreaker is an all-time favorite and comes highly recommended by industry leaders like AJ&Smart CEO Jonathan Courtney.

How to Execute:
  1. Divide the group into smaller groups or pairs, depending on how many participants you have. If you’re holding a remote meeting, you might want to set up breakout rooms for each group.
  2. Ask each group to write down their name, their first job, and what they learned from that job.
  3. Then, ask each group to share what they wrote within their small circles.
  4. Set a timer (2 minutes should suffice) and go around the group to have everyone share their first job and the lesson they learned from it.
  5. Compile all these insights on a whiteboard (either physical or digital), so everyone can see a snapshot of the group's collective experience.

This icebreaker is super simple and very effective. It allows participants to share personal anecdotes without oversharing, all while requiring minimal effort upfront.


To add a layer of intrigue, have participants write down only their first job and its corresponding lesson. Then, collect the anonymous notes in a hat (or use a digital board for remote settings), and let everyone guess the author behind each job experience.


Icebreaker #2: The 'One Word' Game

This icebreaker is perfect if you wish to gently introduce the workshop topic while ensuring a relaxed environment.

How to Execute:
  1. Break your audience into smaller groups or pairs.
  2. Assign a topic, related to your workshop's main focus, for each group to describe in one word.
  3. Use a timer (set to 2 minutes) to make it more engaging.

Collect and display the words, creating a visual representation of the group's collective mindset towards the workshop topic. Though the exercise is not designed for actionable output, it primes everyone to start thinking about the subject matter at hand.

A dynamic online workshop session showing participants in a virtual setting, actively involved in an interactive icebreaker exercise via Zoom. The image highlights their focused engagement and lively discussions, breaking down social barriers and fostering a comfortable environment for collaboration.

Icebreaker #3: 'Pointless Questions' that Matter

Despite the name, this icebreaker is far from pointless! It's excellent for priming participants for creative thought through informal, unrelated chatter.

How to Execute:
  1. Prepare a roster of light-hearted, universal questions beforehand.
  2. During the workshop, go around the room, allowing everyone to answer the selected questions.
Question Ideas:
  • If you could have dinner with any celebrity, who would it be and why?
  • What is the one thing you wish to have an unlimited supply of?

By keeping the questions inclusive and generic, you encourage everyone to participate freely.

What If You Run Out of Ideas? 

Don't worry if you find yourselves short on questions or ideas during any of these icebreakers. We've prepared a random question generator that can inject spontaneity and keep the engagement levels high throughout your workshop.


Icebreaker #4: 'Guess Who?' with a Twist

This icebreaker gets participants talking and fosters a sense of community, perfect for team-building sessions or new project kick-offs.

How to Execute:
  1. Before the workshop, ask each participant to send you an intriguing fact about themselves.
  2. At the workshop, read each fact aloud and let the group guess who it belongs to.

If time allows, go a step further and encourage the group to ask questions to the individual once they're identified, deepening the connections.

This icebreaker serves as a fantastic opener, helping people see shared interests or skills they might not have known about otherwise.

A hybrid meeting scene where participants, both in-person and remote, are involved in an icebreaker activity. The image showcases a mix of digital and physical interactions, illustrating how icebreakers help in relieving awkwardness and setting a relaxed tone for collaborative and creative sessions.

Icebreaker #5: Pictionary, the Workshop Edition

Visual thinking is vital in any creative endeavor, and this icebreaker plays directly into that aspect.

How to Execute:
  1. Generate a list of concepts or objects related to your workshop theme.
  2. Divide the group into teams and provide drawing materials (whiteboards for in-person, digital drawing boards for remote).
  3. Teams take turns drawing while others guess the concept.

By requiring participants to think visually, you’re inviting them to tap into their creative processes right from the get-go.

Icebreaker #6: 'Four Quadrants'—A Closer Look at Priorities

This icebreaker is for workshops that aim to address complex issues or strategies. It requires participants to examine their priorities.

How to Execute:
  1. Create a 2x2 grid and label each quadrant with a category (e.g., Urgent, Not Urgent, Important, Not Important).
  2. Ask participants to write down tasks or goals on sticky notes.
  3. Each person places their sticky notes in the quadrant where they think it belongs.

The 'Four Quadrants' method provides a snapshot of where everyone’s focus lies, invaluable for workshops aimed at alignment and strategy.


A Final Few Tips for Effective Icebreaking

While choosing the right icebreaker is crucial, executing it effectively is equally essential. Here are some tips to ensure your chosen icebreaker serves its purpose:

  1. Timeliness: Always start with the icebreaker. It sets the stage and gets people into the right frame of mind.
  2. Inclusivity: Ensure the activity can engage everyone, regardless of their role, seniority, or familiarity with the group.
  3. Relevance: Opt for an icebreaker that ties back to the workshop's objective when possible.

Tracking how well your icebreakers perform is a great idea. You can ask for feedback during the workshop wrap-up or in post-workshop surveys. By doing this, you can refine your approach for future workshops, ensuring you consistently deliver high-impact, engaging sessions.


There you have it—six high-impact icebreakers that work brilliantly in a variety of settings, be it in-person, remote, or hybrid workshops. Whether you're facilitating a strategy session, a creative brainstorming meeting, or a team-building exercise, these icebreakers are your ticket to an engaged and energetic room.

Remember, the perfect icebreaker not only warms up the room but also prepares everyone's mindset for an engaging, productive workshop ahead.

To further master the art of workshops, don't miss our upcoming guides on facilitating high-impact sessions and leveraging digital tools for collaborative success.


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