On January 23, 2018 at Signal v. Noise there was an article by Claire Lew titled The 25 most popular icebreaker questions based on four years of data. She described them as get-to-know-you questions for team building. But these also will serve for the impromptu speaking section of a Toastmasters club meeting known as Table Topics. Her questions are:
1. What was your first job?
2. Have you ever met anyone famous?
3. What are you reading right now?
4. If you could pick up a new skill in an instant what would it be?
5. Who’s someone you really admire?
6. Seen any good movies lately you’d recommend?
7. Got any favorite quotes?
8. Been pleasantly surprised by anything lately?
9. What was your favorite band 10 years ago?
10. What’s your earliest memory?
11. Been anywhere recently for the first time?
12. What’s your favorite family tradition?
13. Who had the most influence on you growing up?
14. What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
15. What’s something you want to do in the next year that you’ve never done before?
16. Seen anything lately that made you smile?
17. What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited?
18. Have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet?
19. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
20. How do you like your eggs?
21. Do you have a favorite charity you wish more people knew about?
22. Got any phobias you’d like to break?
23. Have you returned anything you’ve purchased lately? Why?
24. Do you collect anything?
25. What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?
If you need more, then you can flip them over – from first to last, favorite to least favorite, best to worst, etc. Here are my examples for opening the answers to three of them. For #2, I took a psychology class from Herbert A. Simon, who later won the Nobel Prize in economics. He was color blind. Herb coined the word satisfice. For #23, I returned a motion-sensing nightlight misdesigned to block both sockets to a wall outlet. For #25, my boring real answer is oatmeal to lower my cholesterol. A much funnier one comes from Bill Watterson’s comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, where the little boy Calvin just loves Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs.