Are you planning for a virtual icebreaker for your team? Want to know how to plan one? Need help with some of the best software tools to make it effective? Here’s the right page for you – read on!
Working remotely necessitates positivity in enhancing productivity, trust, confidence, and efficiency of both the remote professionals as well as the companies hiring them. Besides the professional bonding with the remote team, it is also essential to strengthen the emotional bonding too.
One of the mantras of a successful team is to boost both the physical and mental strength of the members. But the question is how to achieve this bonding with the remote team members present at different time zones of the world. The answer is virtual icebreakers, powerful tools to get acquainted with each other and build up a strong rapport.
The article will assist you to understand the definition of virtual icebreakers, the need for a virtual icebreaker along with its benefits in remote team building, and various virtual icebreaker games and activities.
Virtual icebreaker or online icebreakers
Virtual icebreakers can be games or activities that enable interactions between the remote team members in an informal mode. They ensure seamless conversations between individuals and build up strong interpersonal relationships among team members.
They can even be simple questions being interchanged with each other. The members feel relaxed and comfortable and a sense of belonging to the team. The virtual icebreakers are essentially leveraged during online video conference calls and web meetings while the members are placed in different time zones.
Important Tips: You need to understand when to use virtual team icebreakers and when to use not. There are situations when the icebreakers might not be correct to use. Hence it is essential to be aware of the appropriateness of their usage.
Types of virtual icebreakers
Below is a summary of various types of virtual icebreakers,
1. Meeting Icebreakers
Icebreakers are the best way to encourage connections and bonding in a team. Team meeting ice breakers can strengthen ties and help stimulate better brainstorming and foster an atmosphere of inclusion. Some ice breakers for team meeting are,
- One Word Game = Divide the team into smaller groups. Ask them to find one word to describe their group.
- Birth map – Hang a map of the country or world on your bulletin board or share one during your online call. Ask people to place a pin where they were born or raised. These team introduction ideas can help highlight the diversity in the group.
- Would You Rather – “Would you rather”, is a great opening activity for the meeting. Some common virtual questions are:-“Would you rather questions have only summer or winter in your life”? “Would you rather hike or watch a movie”?
2. Fun Icebreakers
According to a report published in 2017, only 24% of workers feel connected to their peers. This figure will be much higher where employees work in remote settings. The survey showed a large majority of employees feel isolated. Fun icebreakers may fuel feelings of camaraderie. It is an effective technique to build tighter bonds and learn more about their colleagues. Some fun ice breakers are,
- Charades – This is a classic game is one of the best icebreaker games. You can play whether you have a large team or a small team. The goal is to describe an object, book, or movie using your acting skills.
- Find 10 things in common – This game can be great ice breakers for a meeting, especially for large organizations. These can be virtual icebreakers over Zoom. You divide people into separate groups (usually department members). The task is to find 10 things that all share.
- Human Rock-Paper-Scissor – Most of us have played rock paper scissors as children. The staff is sub-divided into teams. Each team comes up with a particular body signal for Rock-paper-scissor. Teams can then have faceoffs with a best of five series.
3. Team Icebreakers
Team icebreakers are designed to lower people’s guards in a social setting. Team icebreakers help to fast track familiarity and ease the socializing process. HR professionals are always looking for how to get a new icebreaker? Some team icebreaker are,
- Baby Photos – These icebreakers for virtual team meetings activity require a bit of preparation. Send a request for a baby photo from each team member. Place the photos on the digital board with a number for each photo. People guess which photo belongs to which team member by writing a name beside each corresponding number.
- Turning over new leaf – this involves the team physically meeting. The team is divided into groups of 3 to 4 members. The members stand on a blanket. The goal of the exercise is to flip the blanket without members leaving the blanket. If one person steps off the blanket, they need to restart the whole exercise.
- This is better than that – Team members choose random items from their office or home. The team members select one of the objects they would take to a deserted island.
4. Work Icebreakers
Encourage your employees to participate in a work meeting ice breakers to improve team speakers.
- Your favorite – This works for both offline and online icebreakers participants to discuss their favorite food, drink, etc.
- Speed meeting icebreaker – the goal of this meet and greet game is to meet their colleagues similar to the speed dating concept. The activity is a great way to find common ground.
- First Job – In this ice breaker game online, the participant describes their first job and what they learned.
5. Professional Icebreakers
Research shows that colleagues who are closer perform better. Here are some professional ice breakers you can use for your organization.
- Live-poll is a great way to make meeting ice breakers lively. Several tools like Slido lets audiences or team members participate anonymously. The tools are interactive and easy to use. You can ask a mix of fun and relevant topics. These icebreaker tools are free.
- Virtual happy hour – Virtual happy hour has emerged as innovative ice breakers in the recent lockdown. It is a fun time where people can drink and be themselves. Happy hour is one of the many virtual icebreaker activities you can do with your team.
- Employee spotlight – Every meeting can feature one coworker before the normal agenda starts. The person in question gives a short participant can share pictures of their family, present a song, etc. These virtual team icebreakers help the team to learn more about one another.
6. Presentation Icebreakers
Even if you have an informative presentation, you may find presentation icebreakers help your audiences get actively informed in your presentation. The audiences may be more receptive to the message.
- Introduction with a twist – Presentation ice breaker often starts with the presenter introducing themselves before the presentation, this is similar but with a twist. Here the participants are asked to introduce themselves and state something unusual. Later the presenters ask questions from the introductions. The participant who remembers maximum detail wins.
- String together a story – Storytelling is a powerful ice breaker for presentations for meetings. You can start with the first sentence and ask the first participant to continue. Each person gets to decide which direction the story will take.
- Problem-solution icebreaker – Another ice breakers for presentations are to present a real and hypothetical problem and ask people to give their solutions.
7. Conference Call Icebreakers
As working from home or working from remote locations has become the norm, more businesses use conference calls to encourage/ remote working teams to connect and bond. Here is a list of conference call ice breakers you could use,
- Play a game of Pairs – This is one of the popular conference call icebreakers. The participants select a player who is also attending the call. They describe or show the other participants their footwear. The participants select another player to show their footwear. If they match the participants try again.
- What’s out of your window – ask people to reveal their view outside their windows. Does their window overlook a garden or a bustling street? This is a great excuse to view the participant’s home office or get them to walk around their room.
- Take part in a poll – Another popular ice breaker for conference calls ice breakers are asking call participants to take part in a poll. Some popular poll questions are:- Do you enjoy working from home? Tea or Coffee?
8. Drawing Icebreakers
Drawing lets people tap into their creativity. We have listed some drawing icebreakers are,
- Squiggle Birds – In this activity, a team member will have 5 minutes to convey their ideas by drawing.
- Collaborative face drawing – this is popular ice breaker activity for work. You divide teams into smaller groups. Each member draws a feature of a person. Pass the paper around till everyone has drawn a feature.
- Iterative team drawing – the objective of the game is to draw the best reproduction of a toy/statue within certain constraints.
9. Motivation Icebreakers
- The 5 of anything icebreaker – this is an ideal way to begin a motivation ice breaker session. The participants can share 5 things that motivate them. To make the activity fun you can ask participants for their 5 favorite novels, 5 favorite scary movies, etc.
- Name the throwback – Create a playlist of songs that were popular during a certain period. You should try to cater to the average age group of the team. Split your team into smaller groups. Play a snippet of the song and ask the team to guess the song. These are some fun break the ice games you could try.
- Choose your favorite – pose virtual meeting ice breaker questions like which talent would you like? what is best to eat pizza? You can have color-coded options for each answer. Asking fun questions can serve as ice breakers.
10. Zoom Icebreakers
Zoom has become a great medium for communication for remote teams. With social distancing norms in place, several regular social gatherings are now happening online. Here are some Zoom icebreakers you could use,
- Social distance Bingo:- You don’t need a bingo board instead assess what activities were done by having people raise their hands. Some of the sample questions you can ask: Who slept through noon? Who enjoys baking? Who Binged watched Stranger things?
- I Spy – You can use the Gallery view on Zoom that allows you to see everyone. You use someone painting on the background or hat to play the “I Spy” game. Other people guess where the object is hidden. The game ensures everyone participates.
- Netflix Series you are currently binging – Being prolonged lockdown binge-watching Netflix series seems to have become the norm. Everyone on the Zoom call takes turns to reveal the series the Netflix series they are watching. People with similar tastes can connect, and people will get suggestions on what to watch next.
11. Social Media Icebreakers
- Group chats:- Social media icebreakers are fun and let people interact.
- Video players – icebreaker videos for meeting allows people to have fun and can keep them occupied before the meeting starts.
12. Faculty Meeting Icebreakers
There are various icebreaker online games and activities you can do to improve interaction during a staff meeting. It is an excellent way to start faculty or parent-teacher meetings.
- Animal imitation – in this ice breakers game online the teachers are sent random animal names using a randomizer. The staff member enacts the movement and sounds associated with the animal.
- Famous Faces – this is a fun interactive game and popular faculty meeting ice breakers. The staff member selects a celebrity name that other members can see. They guess the celebrity identity by asking virtual ice breaker questions to their colleagues.
- A penny for your memories – These can be ice breakers for parent meetings. The members take out a penny from their purses or wallets. Each member reads the year on the penny and narrates a memory from that year.
13. Facebook Icebreaker
Facebook is a social media tool that can be used how to break the ice online.
- Say Hello – Saying hello is one of the best social media icebreakers.
- Personal comment – Post a comment when you find you have something common with your new friends.
- Holiday post – Sharing a post of holidays even if you don’t celebrate is a great Facebook icebreaker.
- Comment on the content – Comment on the content on Facebook posts. You could always ask follow-up questions.
14. Collaboration Icebreakers
Collaboration icebreakers go a long way for the remote roups and feel more comfortable working together while collaborating.
- Pick a song – Ask each team member to pick a work-appropriate walk-up song. Play it and ask the rest of the team members to guess whose song it is. These collaboration icebreakers energize the employee when they hear their song. They learn something about your teammates.
- Breaking the stereotype – this is a great icebreaker game online or offline, where teammates start with a single statement “I [true description] but I [negate a stereotype related to the description]. This is a quick activity suitable for a virtual platform.
- Mrs. and Mr. Wright have emerged as popular icebreaker video games. You tell a fun story. Invite your team member to stand in front of their cameras and perform your certain move every time you say a word.
Ice breakers game online
Below is a summary of some of the famous virtual icebreaker games and activities,
1. Icebreaker Shoes
This activity is one of the most popular icebreakers for virtual team meetings. You can ask the participants to take a picture of the shoes they will be wearing during the meeting and share it with everyone. The pictures must be uploaded before the start of the meeting.
Once the meeting initiates, you can ask each of the participants to elaborate on their shoe selection and the reason behind the selection. An interesting aspect of discussing shoes is the participants may even mention their hobbies or interests, for example, running shoes would elaborate on an individual’s desire to run marathons.
You can even ask the participants to take a picture of some important objects placed on their work desk. It may be a memento, a gift, a photo stand, etc. The participants can discuss the significance of the object in both their professional and personal life. You can learn about the character traits of a person through this conversation.
2. Two Lies and a Truth or Two Truths and a Lie
This game is generally conducted in small groups since the participants require some time to think and answer. The participants are either asked to note down two truths about themselves and a lie or vice versa.
The host or the meeting coordinator receives the information from everyone and then distributes them among the participants. Each one needs to guess whether the facts mentioned by others are correct or not. It proves the intuitive and reasoning power of the individuals and a great way to understand the team.
3. Time Machine
Time Machine is a very common game followed even in schools and colleges to reenergize the thinking and innovative power of students. The game is also very effective in the professional world, acting as one of the creative virtual icebreakers for remote teams.
The host or the meeting coordinator asks the participants to think of a time in the future or past where they want to travel if they were mounted inside a time machine. Once they guess the time, they need to share the place where they want to visit and whom they want to meet. For each of their answer, they need to share the reason behind their choice.
4. Culinary Interests
Sharing culinary interests is a fun game to play as an icebreaker for remote teams. Each participant needs to share their favorite dish either by cooking themselves or a picture. They can share the recipe or ask others to guess the recipe.
If you have a team located in different parts of the world, the culinary game is an excellent method to be acquainted with the food habits and authentic cuisines of a place.
5. Location Mapping
With remote team members being present in various parts of the world, you can perform a simple exercise of location mapping. Point the location of each participant in a world map and place it in front of everyone on a shared screen or online web meeting at the start of the conversation.
The participants can visualize the location of others and may start interacting promptly on some trending news about a place and so on. You can even put forward some questions regarding the location of each participant and any particular significant and prominent aspect of the place.
Icebreaker questions for virtual meetings
Virtual icebreaker questions can be fun or deep. The answers can help reveal facets of a person’s personality. They give insights into working styles and how they collaborate. We have listed some common ice breaker questions for virtual meetings for you,
Virtual ice breaker questions
Question 1: Where are you from?
This is an excellent icebreaker. It gives you some background knowledge about your coworker and allows them to connect with others through common geography.
Question2: What is one item that you cannot live without?
This question helps to show what the participant values. It allows you to discuss to use and design of the product.
Question 3: What is your favorite childhood movie?
You can follow this question by asking what were their thoughts while watching the movie and what did they feel? It can give you an understanding of the experiences that are memorable to the participant.
Question 4: If you were an animal, what would you be?
The animal chosen can be revealing on what traits the participant finds desirable and Why?
Question 5: If you could have dinner with anybody in history, dead or alive. Who would it be and why?
The participant can choose a historical, literary, artistic, political, sports, or entertainment figure. The question can help reveal why the candidate gets inspired by the candidate.
Question 6: If you can travel to any country in the world, where would you go?
The answer can show the previous travel experiences. It can show their openness to new cultures and experiences.
Question 7: What is your guilty pleasure?
The answer can show their values and how comfortable they are about sharing their weaknesses.
Question 8: What is your unusual talent?
It is an opportunity to learn more about a person. It can show you how the person views themselves and understand their strengths.
Question 9: What unusual or quirky thing do you do regularly?
The answer can disclose shows self-confidence in revealing vulnerabilities. These traits may help you solve workplace problems.
Question 10: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what band or music would you want?
Do they like music? The answer can show their hobbies and tastes outside work.
Virtual meeting ice breaker questions
- What was your previous role?
- What do you like most about the company?
- Do you enjoy working in your current role and why?
- How was your first experience at work?
- Can you share some funny incidents with your supervisor?
- Which incident at your workplace imbibes a feeling of pride within you?
- What contribution of yours resulted in a significant change in your team’s goals and objectives?
- What are your suggestions for improvement in the current program?
- Example of any good team activity a person has conducted in the past
Do’s and Don’ts of using Virtual Icebreakers
Although virtual team icebreakers are effective in building up a strong team bonding and culture, yet they need to be leveraged at appropriate situations and moments. Only then you can realize their benefits in team building. Enlisted below are the situations when leveraging virtual icebreakers will turn out to be advantageous,
- Team members operating remotely at different time zones with negligible chances of being engaged in a face to face conversations, discussions or meetings.
- Introducing the remote team with each other in a web meeting or a video conference call
- Scheduling meetings and discussions between culturally different people with varied skills and experience
- Cross Team collaborations involving teams from different departments or divisions
- Hackathons or workshops which generally extend for long durations, attended by people placed at different hierarchical levels
Now let us discuss the situations when it is not advisable to use virtual icebreakers. The scenarios are enlisted below,
- Interactions between team members already sharing a good rapport, not mandating the need of introducing virtual icebreaker activities
- Meetings and business discussions with customers who consider informal conversations as unprofessional
- Analyze the complexity of a meeting wherein virtual icebreakers may consume a valuable amount of time instead of being a boon
Few Golden Rules for selecting Virtual Icebreakers
Before selecting or deciding on the virtual icebreaker activities to imbibe a feeling of strong team culture, you need to remember a few golden rules as enlisted in this section,
- Decide the purpose and the need for icebreaking exercise. It helps you to plan the sessions, activities, and games effectively. The icebreaker sessions need to be productive to ensure the members trust each other and collaboratively solve issues or problems.
- Finalize the time to be invested in the icebreaker activities, normally to occur for no more than a duration of 5 minutes. The objective must not be to hijack the meeting time but only to ease the comfort level of the members.
- Gather information on from which place your remote team members operate. They may be working from home or in a coworking space. Sometimes they may be attending the meeting while on move in an airport lounge or a café. The information is needed to ensure they are focused and cooperative to mingle with their teammates.
- Decide the mode of communication, a video conference call or an audio call. You need to analyze the interest and comfort level of the team members while selecting the media. Some may not like being visible in a video for the introductory meeting.
- Think of providing basic information about the participants to all the team members in advance. In the case of customer meetings, it is better to share customer roles and critical behavioral activities with the participants. This action facilitates the icebreakers for virtual team meetings.
Suggested Read: Managing Remote Teams: 13 tips that will come handy
Benefits of virtual icebreakers for remote teams
Icebreakers have proved to be very beneficial for remote meetings as they not only help to churn the human brain but also help in developing a strong bonding between the team. The members are easily introduced to each other, which paves the way for a smooth and seamless work culture in the near future.
The games and activities create a relaxed and stress-free atmosphere, encouraging all to participate and communicate with each other. The brainstorming exercises encourage active interaction between each other, developing a sense of togetherness and unity. It will eventually result in working collaboratively in achieving the company’s goals and objectives.
Icebreakers induce the creative minds of individuals to nurture their brains and actively engage in games and fun activities. The team members inculcate a feeling of trust and confidence. They feel motivated and comfortable working in the future.
Suggested read: Best Remote Working Tools That Make Life Easy
Icebreaker apps and best icebreaker tools
There various icebreaker online games, tools, and apps that can be used as an icebreaker for virtual meetings,
- unremot – unremot.com is a fantastic platform where you can meet virtually using unremot virtual watercooler joints and cafeterias. This has proved to be a boon for remote collaborations. You can have ice breaker activities like play ice breaker games online before the remote colleagues start to collaborate.
- Drawful 2: Research shows there are several benefits of doodling such as helping concentration, spur creative insight, alleviate stress, and improves the memory of the meeting. Drawful 2 is an interactive software allowing participants to virtual doodle through a room code.
- Pop Quiz: Pop quizzes are a great way to get the competitive spirit before a virtual meeting. The pop quiz allows everyone to participate. Some online games online provide pop quizzes like AhaSlide. The virtual meeting games are perfectly suited for remote teams. There are icebreaker apps such as Trivia Crack and Quiz app. Trivia Crack allows participants to spin a wheel and select questions from multiple categories.
- You Nailed It: You Nailed It is a wholesome activity done together. It is a simple activity where team members appreciate the member who has worked very hard and performed well. You do not have to get into specifics. It gives a boost of confidence to the team member who has been putting in the extra effort.
- Wealthy Walrus:- Wealthy Walrus is fun icebreakers for meetings. The app starts on the principle that the Walrus begins with $14 billion to distribute, the catch being you have to perform ridiculous acts. The participants have the option of selecting yes or no. The results of all the participants are tabulated.
Suggested Read: Synchronous & Asynchronous Communication For Remote Work
Tips on how to plan virtual icebreaker activities
Some important tips which you must remember before structuring the virtual icebreaker activities
- The recommendation is to limit the duration of icebreaker activities to 5 or a maximum of 10 minutes
- Analyze or scrutinize the background of the participants, their cultural background, and their location before deciding on the ideas for icebreakers
- Do not force a person to be part of the icebreaker sessions, even allowing them to opt-out if they feel insecure or uncomfortable
- Select your questions cautiously as you may deal with members from different communities or cultures where there may be polar differences on any topic
- Encourage all the participants to speak out their ideas and feelings, the recommendation is to call out names so that no one feels left out
- Ensure there are no conflicts between participants while the games are being conducted