Virtual Icebreakers: A Quick and Useful Guide
A video guide on how to do good virtual icebreakers for remote teams. These tips and activities can help online groups warm up, get comfortable, and build better working relationships, leading to improved company culture and increased cooperation in online offices.
- Why Your Team Should Do Virtual Icebreakers20
- Tip #1: Buffer Time is Not Icebreaker Time37
- Tip #2: Check the Chat108
- Tip #3: Think Outside the Screen140
- Tip #4: Make Breakout Rooms for Big Groups225
- Activity #1: Icebreaker Questions254
- Activity #2: Show and Tell324
- Activity #3: This or That357
- Final Thoughts & Bonus Resources432
Welcome to Teambuilding.com’s guide to virtual icebreakers.
In this video, you’ll learn 4 tips and 3 activities to help remote team members connect in Zoom meetings. Plus, stick around toward the end of the video for a downloadable cheat sheet.
But first, why should your team be doing virtual icebreakers?
Because these ideas will warm up your group and get the conversation flowing, making virtual meetings way more fun and productive.
And you will build a much stronger remote work culture while you’re at it.
Now, let’s get to it!
First, some virtual icebreaker tips.
Tip #1: Buffer time is NOT icebreaker time
You know those five minutes when you’re waiting for folks to show up to the meeting, and you’re chatting about your weekend or cooing over your coworker’s baby? Yeah, that’s banter, not an icebreaker. You can include icebreaker games or questions in the buffer time, but don’t stop there. Otherwise, the latecomers don’t get a chance to connect with their peers. Plus, some folks may not be paying attention yet, so it’s better to make activities part of the actual meeting.
Tip #2: Check the chat
Imagine if you asked an icebreaker question in a conference room, and everyone shouted out their answer at once. That would be pretty crazy, right? No problem whatsoever in virtual meetings– everyone can answer at once, thanks to the chat!
You can ask the group a question and tell teammates to type their answers. This tactic can help more folks participate and can coax quieter employees to respond. As host, you can call out some of the answers and prompt further conversation.
Tip #3: Think outside the screen
Your remote employees may only know each other as floating heads on computer screens that talk about work. When planning your icebreaker, think of interesting questions or activities that reveal personal facts about participants.
For example, ask folks to change their display names to their childhood nickname. Or, use Teambuilding.com hosts’ favorite trick– ask employees to show you their pets! Everyone knows that animals are the best part of working from home, and employees are gonna be watching for a furry friend cameo all meeting anyway.
Feel free to ask participants to get up and move during these activities. This can be a great way to energize your remote employees at the top of meetings.
Tip #4: Make breakout rooms for big groups
The bigger your group, the less likely everyone will have a chance to talk during icebreakers. As a rule of thumb, if you have 10 or more attendees, divide into breakout rooms for icebreakers. This gives participants more opportunities to share. Plus, the small group setting makes it easier for introverts and more passive employees to speak.
Feeling ready to dive in? Here are a few virtual icebreaker activities you can do with remote teams.
Activity #1: Icebreaker questions
Ah, an oldie but a goodie! Questions are the easiest virtual meeting icebreaker. Simply ask the group a question, and let folks shout out answers or type them in the chat.
Tell us about your worst haircut ever.
What reality show would you want to be on?
These prompts can lead to some pretty surprising and amusing stories. Google “teambuilding.com icebreaker questions” for a full list of options.
Activity # 2: Show and Tell
This idea is a great way to introduce movement to your meetings and help employees get to know each other. The exercise does not have to be pre-planned.
You can say something like, “grab the object closest to your left hand. This is your weapon in the zombie apocalypse. How will you survive?” Cue outrageous explanations.
Or, go more personal with, “show us something in your home office that makes you happy.”
Make sure everyone has a chance to share.
Activity # 3: This or That
Ketchup or ranch?
Win the lottery or land your dream job?
Toilet paper over or under?
A few of life’s great questions.
This activity is a great large group virtual icebreaker because there are only two possible answers. You can use the polling tool to preload the answers and then instantly show the results.
This game can uncover common ground or spark some pretty lively debates.
Check Google for “this or that questions by teambuilding.com” for a list of our favorites.
There you have it. Now, you know how to run engaging virtual icebreakers that bring your remote team closer and make online meetings better. If you want this info in a handy, to-go version, here is a link to a downloadable cheat sheet.
Want more activity inspiration? Google “teambuilding.com virtual icebreakers” for our master list.
If you think more teams should be doing virtual icebreakers, then hit “like” and “share” to help them find this video. Then “subscribe” to get notified when we post our next one!
A question for the comments – what is something you remember from an icebreaker?
See you next time!