Audience Energizers

80+ Creative Icebreakers for Brainstorming

Image of Olivia Hanifan
Olivia Hanifan2022-06-27

Getting your creative juices flowing can be particularly difficult. Nowadays, we have been trained to follow rules, protocols, and strict boundaries that foster a more logical approach. So what can you do to help the group think outside the box and get really creative and innovative?

Icebreaker Word Cloud

Brainstorming can be a great way to bring together some creative, innovative, and disruptive ideas from each and every member of your team. However, our brains oftentimes need a warm-up or a way to get us in a creative thinking mode. So to help combat this we can use some icebreakers.

What is a good icebreaker?

Icebreakers aren’t just a way to break the tension or relieve the awkwardness we often encounter at ht beginning of meetings, brainstorming sessions, and presentations. They can be a great way to initiate discussions, kickstart debates, and even help to think creatively.

The key to a good icebreaker is to define the essence of the task and decide what you want to achieve during that exercise. The icebreaker should then encourage or build upon that core focus. For example, if your main task is to stimulate creative thinking, your icebreakers should inspire that thinking.

The thought of an icebreaker often makes people nervous. It usually involves opening up about yourself or sharing a random bit of personal information. But, to get brainstorming and imaginative these icebreakers are great to warm up the participants and stimulate a creative mindset.

What is creative thinking?

Thinking creatively is more than just being inventive and thinking outside of the box. It is about being open-minded, thinking critically, daring in ideation, and problem-solving. 

Creative thinking can often be conflated with something like artistic talent or some sort of natural flair, but creativity can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. As mentioned above, problem-solving and critical thinking are also expressions of creative thinking that we may not necessarily always consider to be such. We can all think creatively, just in a way that plays to our own strengths. 

How to use these icebreakers

These icebreakers are designed to initiate conversation and some back and forth. They are not designed to be answered and left alone. The primary goal of a brainstorming session or a workshop is to get buy-in from everyone and make them feel involved. These icebreakers are the perfect way to initiate discussions from the get-go and promote a sense of creative thinking; two birds and one stone. 

If you need icebreakers for your students then you're also in luck!

So that being said, let’s look at some icebreakers we can all use to help the thinking and thought development process. We also have some templates you can use right away without any extra effort or planning!

  1. Word Association 
  2. Round Table Story
  3. The Brick
  4. Hammer or Nail
  5. Reverse Brainstorming
  6. Brainteasers 
  7. Guessing Games
  8. Rankings
  9. This or That
  10. Categorize

1. Word Association

Think of a particular topic and create a list of words related to it. Then, ask the audience what words come to mind when they think of this topic. A great tip is to use the Word Cloud feature on Mentimeter so that everyone can see people’s thoughts in real-time and on the big screen.

Word Association - Holiday

Word Association - Holiday

  1. What do you think of when you hear the word holiday?
  2. What word do you associate with 
  3. Give me a synonym for 
  4. Give me an antonym for 
  5. What comes to mind when you read the word 
  6. Provide a word related to 
  7. List a word that goes well with 
  8. Complete this sentence: 
  9. Start this sentence: 
  10. What word goes best with the following: 

2. Round Table Story

This type of icebreaker can take many different forms which makes it a great way to use again and again. Don’t worry your group won’t need to write a full novel or even the plot of a short story. Encourage them to write one maybe two sentences. Let them come up with whatever strikes their fancy. 

Round Table Story - The Cyclist

Round Table Story - The Cyclist

  1. The man was cycling when suddenly . . .
  2. . . . and then they strolled home. 
  3. . . . but the funny thing was that . . .
  4. Somewhere far along this road . . . 
  5. . . . when finally they came to the end of the path. 

3. The Brick

Have the group think of as many different and unusual uses for a standard red brick. Once the most obvious ideas have gone it will be fun to see some of the unusual ideas that people can come up with. Sometimes referred to as the paper clip game, this can be used with any product or thing. So feel free to reuse it when needed. 

The Brick

The Brick

  1. A brick 
  2. Paper clip
  3. Spade 
  4. Glass jar 
  5. Yoga mat

4. Hammer or Nail

This is a fun-go around the room activity. Choose two random objects or things, for example, a tree or the wind, and ask everyone to pick which one best describes them and why.

Hammer or Nail

Hammer or Nail

  1. A Hammer or A Nail 
  2. Fire or Water
  3. Paint or A Paintbrush
  4. Tree or The Wind
  5. Apple or Banana
  6. Fruit or Vegetable
  7. Music or Podcast
  8. Pen or Paper
  9. Train or Plane
  10. Sunshine or Snow

5. The Reverse Brainstorm

This icebreaker will help to stimulate new creative paths. Create a list of made-up brand names and get participants to think of as many products or businesses that the name could stand for. Try and encourage people to be as descriptive and expressive as possible.

Reverse Brainstorm - Excelsior

Reverse Brainstorm - Excelsior

  1. Excelsior 
  2. Eureka 
  3. Gran Fondo
  4. LogicallyCreative
  5. Italicized

6. Brainteasers 

Love them or hate them, you cannot deny that brain-twisters and riddles are a great way to kick those critical and creative parts into overdrive. Some answers will require plenty of logic to solve while others demand some real outside-of-the-box thinking. 

Timepiece Brainteaser

Timepiece Brainteaser

  1. A sundial has the fewest moving parts of any timepiece. Which has the most? Hourglass
  2. During which month of the year do we all sleep the least? February
  3. You have a candle, a wood stove, and a gas lamp with you in a dark room. You only have one match, so what do you light first? The match
  4. A man shaves several times a day but still has a long beard. How? He’s a barber
  5. Which tire doesn’t move when a car turns right? The spare
  6. In 1850, a woman is 15 years old. But in 1855, she was only 10 years old. How? She was born in 1865 B.C.
  7. What begins with the letter T is filled with T and ends with T? A teapot
  8. A cowboy arrives in town on Friday, stays for only 3 nights, and then leaves on Friday. How? His horse is named Friday.
  9. What can you hold without using your hands? Your breath 
  10. I speak without a mouth and hear without ears. I have no body, but I come alive with the wind. What am I? An echo

7. Guessing Games

So let’s take away the random elements of a kid's guessing game and bring some assumptions, hunches, and educated guesses to the table. What better way to stimulate creative thinking than encouraging your audience to logically think through everything and come to their own conclusions. 

How many trees would it take to make 1 ton of paper?

How many trees would it take to make 1 ton of paper?

  1. How many trees would it take to make 1 ton of paper? 24
  2. Which country has the most bicycles per capita? The Netherlands
  3. Which language has the most words? English
  4. What is the only mammal that cannot jump? The elephant
  5. How many countries in the world speak Spanish as a first language? Spanish
  6. What color is least popular in national flags? Purple - It’s only used in 2
  7. Which countries have won the most military battles? France
  8. Which European country is the most expensive to live in? Monaco
  9. How many countries are there in the world? 195
  10. What is the strongest muscle in the human body? The jaw

8. Rankings

Rankings are a great way to get people thinking, prioritizing, weighing their options, and carefully considering their own preferences and views. All in all, rankings icebreakers can be a great way to kickstart those creative motors. For further discussion points, why not ask people why they chose their rankings?

What would you prioritize in a marketing campaign?

What would you prioritize in a marketing campaign?

  1. What would you prioritize in a marketing campaign? Social Media, Paid Media, Organic/SEO traffic?
  2. Which animals do you think are the smartest? Cats, Dogs, Birds
  3. What day is the most enjoyable? Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  4. Which is you’re preferred way of working? In the office, Remotely, A bit of both
  5. Which streaming service do you favor? Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max

9. This or That

This or That questions can be a great way to understand your group better but they can also be a way of sparking some creative thinking, especially if you ask some good inventive questions with some interesting choices.

Team Lead or Expert

Team Lead or Expert

  1. Team Lead or Expert 
  2. Desk Job or Outside Job
  3. Present or Listen 
  4. Dress up or Dress down
  5. Cash or Card
  6. 1 long holiday or Numerous small holidays
  7. Spend or Save
  8. Hot or Cold 
  9. 9-5 or Flexi-time
  10. Coffee or Tea

10. Categorize

This is a great way to get people thinking creatively and outside of the box. Simply give your audience a category and ask them to submit a few things related to it. You can also add in a competitive element by awarding points for unique answers! 

Categorize - What Lives in the Forest?

Categorize - What Lives in the Forest?

  1. Name 5 things that live in the forest
  2. List 5 things that fly 
  3. Think of 6 Italian cities 
  4. Name 3 varieties of wine
  5. List 4 Ancient Greek or Roman Gods 
  6. Name 5 car manufacturers 
  7. Give me 4 British authors 
  8. Name 4 sports played without a ball
  9. List 6 US States
  10. Give 4 types of pasta

Bonus Section - 100 points game thing

So this is a game that is specific to Mentimeter so it really is unique. Not only will your audience be asked to really consider their available options, but they will also have to consider just how much they may value something. 

100 Points Lottery Icebreaker

100 Points Lottery Icebreaker

Plenty of ways to start the creative thinking process!

So there you have it! You can ask plenty of different questions right at the beginning of your presentation to spark some really innovative and inventive ideas. Never be stuck for good ideas again and get your audience engaged and ready to go.