The 10 Most Effective Ice Breakers – According To Science!

The 10 Most Effective Ice Breakers – According To Science!

If you struggle a bit with the ‘traditional’ conversation starters at networking events, then this post is for you.

Walking into a room full of strangers can be really intimidating, especially if you don’t really know what to say. And there’s only so many times you can talk about the weather before it gets tedious. But at some point, conversations have to be had, and however reluctantly, you may have realised that you need to break the ice. But how do you start a conversation without trotting out the same tired old cliches that everyone is bored of answering?


Thankfully, this is a very common problem, and some organisations have put a lot of time and energy into researching the best ways to ‘break the ice’ with new people. In fact, Know Your Company spent 4 years researching and fine tuning the art of getting-to-know-you ice breaking conversation starters, helping nervous business owners everywhere start meaningful discussions at work and at networking events.

So without further ado, here are the 10 most effective icebreakers, as proven by science!


  • ‘What was your first job?’


This question promoted the most interesting responses over the 4 year research period, without fail. Everyone has had that embarrassing or unexpected first job story. And the people around you will always find it hilarious if that high flying salesman’s first job was as a pool boy, or someone else worked in their parent’s dentists office. While it might sound like an unassuming question, it always elicits positive responses and leads to sharing nostalgic stories.


  • ‘Have you ever met anyone famous?’


The question is always a fun one, and helps you tap into the people your network really admire. It’s very easy to bond with strangers over a mutual love for Jude Law, or share a laugh when someone admits to meeting LeBron James in line at the supermarket.


  • ‘What are you reading right now?’


Most people are always looking for something new to read – and so swapping book recommendations is a great way for you to get to know someone. It also provides a useful insight into the other person’s interests, opening the door for further conversations.


  • ‘If you could pick up a new skill in an instant, what would it be?’


With this question, you can learn how your new acquaintance wants to grow and what they truly aspire to do. It’s much easier for people to talk about their true passions in life (which isn;t always their job), so it’s a great way to break that tension and start a meaningful conversation.


  • ‘Who’s someone you really admire?’


Understanding who someone looks up to can reveal a significant amount about them, that person influences, preferences and their whole outlook on life. This makes it a great question to ask to get a sense of what a person values, and how that aligns with you own values.


  • ‘Seen any good films lately that you would recommend?’


You might have asked this question before, but it’s important not to overlook it. Films are a great shared conversation topic, and it never fails to be one to spark conversation in one direction or another. Often, you will see people talking about those same films when they meet again, discussing them and rekindling the bond.


  • ‘Got any favourite quotes?’


Personally, i’m a sucker for a good quote, and BNI chapter presidents in particular adore them. They are a great way to capture a world view in a few sentences, and it’s a unique way to break the ice and get to know someone better.


  • ‘Been pleasantly surprised by anything lately?’


While this question might seem a bit vague, bear with me here. When you ask this question, all sorts of positive things come out, leaving everyone involved feeling happier and more open. Someone might share a great customer service experience that surpassed their expectations, or share a story about them really liking cabbage cake despite their initial reactions. This is an especially great question to ask in a group of people who vaguely know each other already, so they develop a deeper connection.


  • ‘What was your favourite band 10 years ago?’


This question always elicits a chuckle or two. You’ll find out who shared an embarrassing favourite band from years ago, and you will also open up discussion of the generational difference between other networkers, musical tastes and even bad fashion taste (for gig nights, obviously).


  • ‘What’s your earliest memory?’


This is typically something that doesn’t get asked a lot, even between close friends. And while it can feel a bit odd at first, something about it helps create a special connection between people. Hearing about someone’s early life can give you a really good sense of who they are.


Remember, if you’re going to ask these question, you need to be willing to answer them too. The whole philosophy behind networking in general (and BNI in particular) is givers gain, and this goes beyond just business. If you’re willing to do something different and think outside the box with your ice breakers, you will have a room full of networkers who are eager to hear what you have to say and engage with you. If you want to try out your new icebreakers, why not come along to one of our meetings and get to know our wonderful members? We meet every Friday morning at 6.30am and a full breakfast is included. Just remember to bring plenty of business cards! To book your place, just click here. We hope to see you soon!