Opening questions for team meetings

Opening questions for team meetings

Updated May 2020

Not everyone loves meetings. They can be made more engaging by preparing an opening question. It can be an ice breaker for newly formed groups or something to warm up the individuals in the group. It can help the quieter members of a group get more used to speaking up. Good questions are a way of bringing everyone’s attention to the present moment and to the group. It can also be a way of mining for issues that might be obscured by the normal functioning of the group.

No matter what the reason for opening a meeting with a question, the sharing and discussion that follows will contribute to better relationships and better understanding among the team members.

Questions for teams newly working from home

  • What are you grateful for today?
  • What is your favorite desk stretch or at-home exercise?
  • Show us something in your home you find beautiful.
  • What has surprised you about the way you have responded to this crisis?
  • How have you altered your communication style for this situation?
  • Who are your heroes right now?
  • How do you feel about your current work/life balance?
  • What is your neighborhood like right now and how is it different from before?
  • What is something you’ve read, watched, or listened to lately that you’d recommend?
  • What is something that made you laugh this week?
  • What is motivating you right now? Is it different from what it was before?
  • How have you altered your communication style for this situation?

Questions for newly forming groups

It’s pretty easy to find ice breaker questions online so I’ll share only a few here.

  • What were you really into when you were a kid?
  • What is a fashion trend you are really glad went away?
  • What has been the highlight of your week so far?
  • What pet(s) did you have as a kid or want to have?
  • Do you like your first name? Do you know who named you or what your name means?
  • What’s the most beautiful place near where you live?

Questions to get to know each other better professionally

  • Where would you like to see your career go? What are your ambitions?
  • What inspires you at work and in your personal life?
  • What do you want to be known for professionally?
  • What would you be doing if you didn’t have this job?
  • What are you wanting from your career?
  • What about your job drains your energy?
  • How do you recharge?
  • What quality in you would you hate to see emulated by your fellow team members?
  • What talent do you have that you’re not able to use much on this team?
  • How do you behave when you’re stressed out or burnt out?
  • If you opened a business, what kind of business would it be?

Questions to mine for issues or potential problems

  • What are your fears about our current project?
  • What is holding us back as a team?
  • If our team were to lose all funding in six months or a year, what would you want us to accomplish before then?
  • If you were to build our organization from scratch, what three values would you try to instill into the culture?
  • What do you wish our team had the opportunity to work on?
  • What do others think about our team but don’t say out loud?
  • What impact do you think our team has had on the organization in the last six months?
  • How should our success be measured?
  • What do you think this team fears most?

Questions to warm up creativity

  • Share an embarrassing moment from the past six months
  • What super power would you like to have and why?
  • What’s your favorite joke, pun, funny video or other thing that makes you laugh?
  • What would a perfect day look like for you when you’re 90?
  • If you could choose an imaginary friend to be with you today, who or what would you choose?
  • If you had to live underground for a month, how would you prepare?
  • If you could change the name of one of the planets which would you choose and what name would you use instead?
  • If you were a candy bar, what candy bar would you be?
  • If you had intro music, what would it be?
  • What do you fear might be hiding in that cabinet, behind that door, in the dark?
  • What feature do you wish your phone had?

Research by Leigh Thompson shows that asking people to share an embarrassing moment can make the team more creative. See Can a Little Embarrassment Make Your Team More Creative?  This would also help the team build vulnerability-based trust (one of five behaviors of a cohesive team.)

Questions to help celebrate the team

  • What are our team’s greatest strengths?
  • What should our theme song be?
  • If you could send us all on a trip somewhere, where would it be?
  • What makes us successful?
  • If the organization was going to hold a comedic roast in our honor, what would the jokes be about?
  • What could other teams learn from ours?
  • What have you learned from working on this team that you will take to the next team you work on?
  • If a filmmaker was making a short documentary about our team, what would be the highlights?
  • What else could our team take on? What new challenge should we face?
  • If we could have a team mascot, what should it be?

Questions to support or celebrate individuals on the team

  • Is there additional training, education, or mentoring that would help you with this new situation?
  • Is there something you’ve wanted to discuss or something you’re unclear about but haven’t wanted to “waste the team’s time?” Or something you need help with that you’ve been reluctant to bring up?
  • What’s something you did for work this week that you’re proud of?
  • How about something you did outside of work that you’re proud of?
  • What is your favorite part of your job right now? Why?
  • What do you wish you had more time for?
  • Is there someone on the team who has gone above and beyond lately that you’d like to shout out?

by Kristeen Bullwinkle, originally posted on TalentGear.com. Updated May 2020 with additions contributed by Jessica Franken.

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