Think of the last time you started a meeting with more than five people. Now think specifically about the conversation that started the meeting. Did you get right to an agenda or business, or was there room for small talk at the beginning?

At Corporate Path Leadership, we find that many times meetings do start with small talk. Perhaps it is the few minutes before everyone has completely joined the call. Or it is the first few minutes when everyone is settling in. During these transition times, we hear much of the same initial conversation topics, such as:

  • How are things in <INSERT LOCATION HERE>?
  • What’s the weather like right now for you?
  • Are you having a good day so far?
  • Did you have a good weekend?

The common denominator for most of these questions is the ability for anyone to respond with a one/two-word answer like “Fine”, “Pretty Good”, “Nice”, “Yes”, etc. Once the answer is given, the energy is gone and naturally the conversation moves to business topics.

But what if those first few minutes were spent in a surprising way?

Instead of asking anticipated, traditional questions, you might start off the meeting with a more thought-provoking question. Nothing scary. Nothing that will make your attendees feel vulnerable or nervous to answer. But something that causes them to actually pause, think, and share information that opens up a little bit more about them, and helps build relationships with the team?

Here is a sample list of ten questions that you can use as conversation starters for your next team meeting — or simply use them as starting points to come up with your own questions.


Here Are Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of Your Next Meeting:

  1. What is something you remember as a child that still sticks with you today?
  2. What is something that you learned in school that you still apply or use in your life now?
  3. Who was a teacher or coach from your past that had a big impact on you, and why?
  4. What was your favorite TV show growing up, and why?
  5. If you could be any superhero, who would it be, or what would your superpower be, and why?
  6. Describe your perfect weekend getaway.
  7. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?
  8. What skill (doesn’t have to apply to your current job) would you like to learn, and why?
  9. What are your top-three movies of all time, and why?
  10. Describe the last time you remember finding inspiration. What caused that?
The key for any question is to make sure that it is:
  1. Open-Ended and Encourages Elaboration
  2. Unexpected (Out of the Ordinary)
  3. Helps Attendees Share Something Positive
  4. Helps Share More Personal Traits About Team Members
  • LinkedIn

We encourage you to carve out five minutes for your next meeting, and start off that meeting by saying something like, “I thought I’d break up the routine of our team meetings today. I’ll start by asking all of you to answer the following question: <INSERT QUESTION HERE>. I’ll give you a few seconds to think about your answer, but I want to take the next few minutes to share a little bit more about ourselves before we get to the topic of the day.”

This is a simple — but powerful — exercise to help continue building your team relationships. Try it in your next meeting and let us know your results!

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