How to break the ice

Starting a conversation can be tricky if you don’t know how. With our top 18 icebreakers, you’ll be ready to tackle any awkward situation, from a date or meeting new friends to starting a new job or using a dating app. You can even use our top tips on how to put these icebreakers to best use.

 - 11 Min Read
Last updated and fact checked:
How to break the ice
  • Get some inspiration for conversation starters to help you meet new people
  • Try out our top 18 icebreakers, which can help break the ice and get rid of awkward silences
  • With some interesting questions and fun games, you’ll be able to keep the conversation going
  • Follow our top tips on using icebreakers to create natural and fun conversation

How to break the ice: FAQs

  • How do you break the ice with someone you just met?

    Conversation starters are a great way to break the ice. They open the conversation and help you navigate first dates and meetings. You can try icebreaker questions like ‘What’s your favourite movie?’ or fun activities like ‘20 questions’. Questions like this give conversations direction and help them flow more easily.

  • What are the top 3 icebreakers?

    There are plenty of great icebreakers in our top 18. The best icebreakers are the ones that create the most follow-up questions. For that, these would be ‘What place would you love to visit most?’, ‘Tell me something you’d like to experience in the next year’, and ‘Is there anything on Netflix you’d recommend for me?’.

  • What is the easiest way to break the ice?

    The easiest way to break the ice is to start with introductions. You need to give the other person your basic information before you can start with icebreakers. However, there are plenty of fun ways to do this. Once that’s done, icebreakers are a fantastic way to keep the conversation flowing and have a little fun.

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Nowadays, there are countless situations where you may need to break the ice. You might have just started a new job, joined a book club, got a first date, or want to make some new friends. No one enjoys awkward silence, and having some icebreakers ready will come in handy. You deserve to date and meet people as much as anyone else, especially if it’s your first time in a long time.

Icebreakers give you the confidence to strike up a conversation as you need instead of brainstorming quickly in the moment. As we all know, the most unfamiliar situations are within dating, which is why these icebreakers are perfect as you explore the dating world, whether on a dating app or in real life

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Our top 18 icebreakers

An effective icebreaker gets the conversation going. It helps it to flow naturally, you get to know each other, and maybe even have a little fun during it. From asking icebreaker questions to playing some icebreaker activities, there are plenty of fun ways to start a conversation with someone new. 

1. Introduce yourself

It sounds simple, but you wouldn’t believe how many people go into a conversation with a one-liner or cheesy joke. Introducing yourself is an ideal icebreaker for any scenario. You can even customise it to you. Don’t just go for ‘Hi, my name is Greg’. Use your imagination. Try, ‘Hello there, I’m Greg, and I have a gorgeous cockapoo named Rolo’. The conversation will flow pretty quickly from there.

2. What brings you here?

It's a super open question that can truly lead anywhere. You can use it best with new people you haven’t spoken to before. You might talk about the event you’re at, the restaurant you’re in, or the friends you’re with. The person’s answer could even tell you if it’s worth pursuing with more questions. If their response is short and cold, they might not be interested. You can learn a lot from this simple and short question.

3. I can’t believe the weather today, can you?

You may think this is a bit of a cliche, and while you are right, this icebreaker still works. It is almost guaranteed to launch into a conversation about how the recent weather has either made or ruined their lives lately. It’s a great way to start a conversation if you’re feeling a little nervous and can’t remember anything more complex.

4. I’ve been getting the same drink order forever. What would you recommend?

For this line, you ideally need to be in a cafe, pub or restaurant to carry it off. Not only does this icebreaker show that you’re open to new things, but it also encourages them to share their likes and dislikes. You can change the focus of this line from drink to meal, snack, coffee, or more. There are many ways to make it your own and start the conversation.

5. Tell a joke!

While everyone thinks they’re hilarious, truthfully, not everyone is. This icebreaker is best for those who know they get a laugh from their friends and loved ones. You can hit them with a prepared joke or be spontaneous, let your surroundings influence you. But be warned, this one comes with the risk your partner might not like it.

6. I’m going to grab a drink, would you like to join me?

This is a smooth way to get some one-on-one time with someone you’ve just met, especially in a group. With this line, you’re inviting this new person in, showing you’re interested in getting to know them without giving too much away. Plus, once they say yes, you can start chatting about drinks, maybe even ask what brings them there, and the conversation will go from there.

7. I love films about romance. What about you?

Icebreakers like this are great because they manage a perfect balance of talking about you and the other person in one. You can customise this conversation starter however you like, whether you talk about music, sports, or food. Even if they don’t like the same thing as you, you might find out about something else they like instead.

8. Play 20 questions

It's an easy game, even if you’re not familiar. Think of a person, place, or thing. The other person can ask 20 questions in an attempt to guess the answer. It’s a fun way to pass the time and naturally find some conversation. If you’re coming up with the topic, you can pick something specific, like Mexico, if you want to talk about your recent trip there. This one even works if you’re with a group of people.

9. Tell me something you'd like to experience in the next year

Open conversation starters like this work well for someone you’ve known for 10 minutes or ten weeks, as it can open up a deep conversation. There’s a lot of opportunity for follow-ups with this line, so you’ll be busy for a while. It’s particularly great if you want an icebreaker that goes beyond the surface. You’ll delve into a person’s hopes and dreams and get to know them more intimately.

10. Would you like to see a picture of my dog?

Considering most people have a dog, this is an easy opener to deliver to anyone. They will likely find them pretty cute, even if they don’t have a dog. This line is super flexible and can work with most things, from cats and dogs to kids and grandkids. It might even encourage the other person to show you some of their own family, furry or not.

11. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose? 

It's a great conversation starter that you can use with anyone. It’s a fun way to get to know someone. With this one, you’ll learn about what the other person values, whether that be flying or invisibility. From here, you can go into several different topics, even imaginary scenarios where one might use their powers. The possibilities are endless.

12. Is there anything on Netflix you’d recommend for me to watch? I’m looking for suggestions

In the modern world, everyone either has Netflix or is stealing it from someone else, making this a solid icebreaker. You can chat about suggestions, favourite TV shows, and potential watches. You might even find some common ground or decide to watch a show together as a second date. You can’t really go wrong with this one. 

13. Truth or dare

This icebreaker works best if you think the individual will be up for some fun and games, so maybe save it for a couple of dates in. Truth or dare can be reasonably responsible depending on the dare, but with some people, it can get a little crazy. If you’re willing to take the risk, you’ll stand to learn a lot about how spontaneous and silly your date is.

14. What place would you love to visit most?

You’ll find very few people in the world who haven’t travelled anywhere and have no desire to. It doesn’t even have to be abroad! You’re likely to strike gold with this conversation starter, as you can take so many routes. From places you may have visited before to one-of-a-kind experiences you want to do, you’ll be chatting for ages with this icebreaker.

15. What does your perfect Sunday morning look like?

It's a particularly good icebreaker for later in the conversation when you’ve gotten to know your date a little better. You’ll find out if they’re a late riser or a morning 5k person. It’s a lovely way to start a conversation about how you spend your weekends and free time, which is an important part of dating.

16. Two truths and a lie

Two truths and a lie is a fun way to get to know someone in a different way, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It creates a natural flow to the conversation. A great example is, "I can do a great imitation of Boris Johnson, I have perfected my handstands, and I have a parrot who swears." There are endless topics to choose from and many opportunities to put your own spin on this.

17. If you could go back to any time and place in history for 24 hours, where would you go? 

A very fun and unique icebreaker that will get the other person thinking. Not only will you challenge their knowledge of history, but you’ll also make them completely question themselves. You’ll also learn a lot about their personality with one quirky question. Make sure you prepare your answer before you ask it because it’s harder to answer than you think.

18. Give them a compliment

There are lots of ways for you to customise this to the other person. You can highlight something special you’ve noticed about them, a part of their personality, or even something about their appearance. It will open up a person like you wouldn’t believe. Now remember, pickup lines are not compliments. You will not get the same response to a cheesy pickup line as a genuine compliment.

Tips on how to use icebreakers

Now you know the best icebreakers to use, you need to know how to use them. It’s no good having the tools but no instruction kit. So, here are some quick tips on how to make our top 18 icebreakers as successful as possible:

  1. Ask follow-up questions.
  2. Keep your icebreakers relevant. 
  3. Pay attention to what they say. 
  4. Ask some open-ended questions. 

Let’s look at these in a little more detail. 

1. Ask follow-up questions

It’s no use trying out these great icebreakers if it doesn’t get the conversation going. The point of conversation starters is to help you get started, so make sure to follow up with more questions. If you ask someone where they’ve travelled, ask if they have any travel plans going forward. After the first follow-up question, it should start to feel pretty natural.

2. Keep your icebreakers relevant

Not every icebreaker will work for every situation, so be conscious of which ones you are using. If you’re at a fancy restaurant, maybe avoid playing any of the suggested games, as it could get loud. If you’re on your first date after meeting via online dating, keep it relatively PG. Make sure the mood is right for what you’re about to say.

3. Pay attention to what they say

A lot of these icebreakers encourage your partner to answer and expand on themselves and their interests. They’re giving you a real chance to get to know them, so pay attention. What they tell you could encourage future conversations and help keep it flowing. Plus, you don’t want to accidentally ask them the same question twice.

4. Ask some open-ended questions

Open-ended questions are a fantastic way to keep the conversation moving and interesting. They encourage answers beyond yes or no and give you a chance to get to know the other person. Many of the suggested icebreakers are open-ended questions but try coming up with your own. Personalise them to the other person as much as you can.

Let’s start breaking the ice

You’re all set now with our top 18 icebreakers and tips on putting them to best use. With our various icebreaker questions and games, you’ll be ready for any awkward situation—no more small talk for you. You can cater the icebreakers you choose to use according to the person.

Play truth or dare with your fun and outgoing date. Ask about travelling and Netflix if you want to get to know a new person in any capacity. There is an icebreaker ready for any situation, but for best practice, follow our tips. Pay attention to them and ask plenty of follow-up questions to keep the conversation as natural as possible.

Image Credit: rdlaw at Pixabay

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