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Rob Boone

Poll Everywhere

Communications Consultant

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Sparking Creativity with Icebreakers


“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” ~ George Patton

Osho once said that “creativity is the greatest form of rebellion.” Occasionally, you just need to rebel against mediocrity. Creativity is about connecting things that aren’t obviously connected, so an exercise that gets that often-dormant part of the brain going can build some serious creative momentum.


Icebreakers have exploded in popularity lately, but they’re often deployed simply to get everyone loosened up. That’s a great use of the icebreaker question, but it can do so much more.


Icebreakers are way of accelerating the relationship-building process. When relationships are formed between group members, they tend to loosen up, which allows a mediator (that’s you) to get everyone focused on the task at hand.

In this case, that means divergent thinking. The University of Washington faculty puts it this way:

“Divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that the ideas are generated in a random, unorganized fashion.”

So that’s the goal: free-flowing ideas. If that’s your game, these icebreakers are perfect- they’re specifically designed to boost divergent thinking. They’re also easily adapted to your needs, so if you have something to add, by all means let us know.

We’re going to make things a bit easier and more efficient to implement using technology- specially, live polling. Each of these icebreakers can be implemented using a live polling app- saving paper, time, and headaches.

With live polling, you can create a template icebreaker questions, then have learners respond with their phones, either in-app or via text. As the results come in, you can then view them in real-time, either on the web or embedded in a Google Slides, PowerPoint, or KeyNote presentation.

Word association: Generate a list of words related to your topic, then ask the audience what words of phrases come to mind when they see the original words. (Protip: this is a great application for online polling. A word cloud generator displaying the final results can serve as a sort of informal sentiment analysis.) Try not to get too rigid with word association; it can be a terribly funny icebreaker game, and the more loose everyone is, the better.

Q&A interviews: If your event includes a question-and-answer session with panelists or speakers, this is a great way to ensure productive Q&A questions. Break everyone off into groups of two or three to discuss the topic, then ask each group to come up with a single question to ask your speakers later.

Brainstorming: We often get so stuck in problem-solving mode that we fall into a linear mode of thinking. Liven it up by asking your group to create problems instead of solving them. That creativity will carry some momentum into the problem-solving phase. Since brainstorming is such a common meeting activity, creating an icebreaker game of it makes this one of the more easily adapted icebreakers for meetings.

The brick: Have each participant list as many possible uses as they can for a standard red brick. Once they exhaust the easy options, they’ll have to think outside the box a bit (a pretty textbook example of divergent thinking in action).


Creativity-sparking icebreakers are a great way to invert stale modes of thinking. If you’re planning to introduce (or extracting) new ideas during an event or a meeting, these icebreakers will get everyone’s brain cells firing on all cylinders.

Author Profile Picture
Rob Boone

Communications Consultant

Read more from Rob Boone

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