With everything going online, your dependence on digital platforms for work, meetings, and conversation have increased. But wouldn’t you enjoy these meetings more if they included a few virtual team icebreakers?
Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work survey stated that nearly 52% of the respondents reported being in more meetings as a result of the shift to remote work. Virtual icebreakers are key to reducing meeting fatigue stemming from back-to-back discussions. It brings back the pre-covid team collaboration and also improves employee engagement.
This blog will discuss how virtual team icebreakers can enliven every remote meeting.
1. What are Virtual Team Icebreakers?
Virtual team icebreakers are interactive activities that help remote teams connect on a personal level. They’re useful in situations where people are unsure of how to start. Take virtual inductions and remote onboarding, for example.
Everyone knows first days can be awkward. That’s why you need to call an all hands meeting so that everyone gets to introduce themselves to the new hire, and vice versa. Virtual team icebreakers can calm nerves and enable everyone to relax. It lightens up the mood, making the team feel equally comfortable.
Breaking the ice with casual conversations and a group game can help the meeting attendees loosen up. More importantly, it enables the rest of the discussion to flow more naturally, thereby helping teams bond.
2. Importance of Virtual Team-Building
Virtual team building activities weave collaboration into the very seams of a company’s remote work culture. It comprises activities such as virtual team icebreakers to bring everybody together, thereby bettering engagement.
According to research by HBR, about one-third of remote workers don’t indulge in any face-to-face interaction with their teams. This lack of connection hampers employee engagement and disrupts team collaboration. The loneliness leads to depression as most employees feel like they don’t have anyone to share their thoughts with. Ultimately, it results in the employees giving sub-optimal productivity or, worse, quitting.
3. Top Virtual Team Icebreakers for Remote Meetings
3.1. Guess Who
‘Guess Who’ is a fun and straightforward game where members have to identify a person based on specific questions. These questions can be about one’s attributes, likes, dislikes etc. This is best played with small-sized teams. For larger groups, you’ll need to create multiple breakout teams and carry the game forward.
The meeting organizer has to send a survey or a poll consisting of questions such as:
- What is your favorite music genre?
- Where have you traveled to in the last 5 years?
- What was the last movie you saw?
During the meeting, you can post the questions alongside the answers provided in the survey. Based on that, members can guess who has responded to what.
3.2. Wheel Decide
The ‘Wheeldecide’ is a classic spin-the-wheel icebreaker. You can either use the wheel provided or modify your wheel. All you have to do is invite the meeting members and ask them to spin the wheel one by one.
3.3. The JAM Storytime
‘JAM or Just-A-Minute’ is a recitation game where a person has to talk about a given topic for one minute. First, you’ll have to divide the members into two teams. Following that, provide some topics to each group, or have them run suggestions by you. Announce prizes and gifts for the best performers.
Do what it takes to ensure that everyone takes part in this fun game. If there are too many members participating in the game, you can reduce the recitation time to make sure everyone gets a go.
3.4. Dream Destination
This is a game where members have to write about their dream destinations, the reasons for why they chose that destination, and how they want to travel there.
We played the game last week on a Friday catch up, and found it fun. The meeting organizer passed the team some travel books or holiday or holiday brochures. Following that, we selected the best destination and wrote a few lines about it. We also provided details about the traveling accommodations.
This activity sparked discussions and helped everyone get reacquainted with those they haven’t spoken to in a while.
3.5. Would you rather?
‘Would you rather?‘ is a classic game that helps the members get to know each other better before starting your meeting. In this interactive game, you need to develop 5 to 10 questions for them to answer. The questions can be as such:
- Would you rather have a car or a bike?
- Would you rather have a pet dog or a pet cat?
You can split the team into two groups to let them explain their responses. For instance, if there are ten members in the meeting, you can group them according to their responses and reshuffle each time there’s a majority of responses.
3.6. The TRUMAN Show
If you ever feel that your life is a movie, then this game will entertain you!
The meeting organizer will send emails to the participants, asking them to prepare a write-up comparing their lives to a movie. The members can choose any film, but they have to explain why they chose that particular movie.
During the meeting, you can select members one by one and ask them to compare their lives to a movie and explain the reason behind it.
3.7. Personal Baseball
This is a game for all the sports lovers out there. First, the organizer has to divide the members into two teams. Each member will take turns writing lesser-known facts about themselves. Then, when a team is up to bat, a member from the opposite team will read a point about a member. The batter has to guess who it belongs to. If someone gets it wrong, they will receive a strike.
If one gets three strikes, they are out. Whichever team has the most points at the end of the game wins.
3.8. Virtual Cookoff
This game will put your culinary ability to the test. The SIWOM team tried it out in July and we had a blast! We paired up at random and the organizer gave us recipes (all different!).
We cooked our respective dishes and displayed them on the screen. Though many of us do not cook that often, the cookoff was a true example of teamwork doing the dream work. We even nominated our own or someone else’s dish for the most tasteful presentation. It boosted our team spirit and gave us the memory to cherish.
3.9. Virtual Lunch
Virtual Lunch is a simple and fun way of interaction. All you have to do is invite everyone to a virtual lunch meeting. In that meeting, members can talk about their personal life, work-related topics, play games, or make simple small talk.
3.10. Virtual Dance Party
There’s no party like a dance party! The organizer has to send meeting invites and tell them to bring their “dancing shoes.”
You can create killer playlists and let everyone showcase their favorite moves. A dance party is an icebreaker that helps boost energy before a long company meeting.
3.11. Table Topics
You may think you know your team, but chances are that you only see the tip of the iceberg. For instance, you wouldn’t know who has a great singing voice, or can name all the 50 states of America in under 5 minutes! ‘Table topics’ is a game where members can ask one another personal questions that will help improve the bonding. Here are some examples of the questions that one may ask:
- What was the last song you searched for?
- What’s your favorite international dish?
- What is your biggest pet peeve?
3.12. Personality Tests
We all like personality tests. After all, most of us are guilty of taking the ‘Which bagel am I’ quiz, right? But, jokes apart, personality tests are a great way to improve collaboration and interaction.
All you have to do is send personality tests to the members and ask them to take the tests. Then, they can share their experience in the meeting, and everyone can share a laugh or two.
3.13. Where in the World?
If your company has members coming in from different locations globally, then this game is for you. You can start the meeting by asking everyone where they are from and the best thing about their place. This helps in connecting the employees better. It’ll feel like you’ve been transported to that place!
3.14. Two Truths and a Lie
This is a fun icebreaker for members who are not much acquainted with one another. It helps in improving collaboration and engagement among the team members.
We have our experience with this game as well. We played it after we had hired two content writers for our team. Let me share what we did.
I explained the game to everyone and told them that everyone has to tell two truths and one lie about themselves. The others have to guess the lie. I went first, and had the others guess the lie and only one of them got it right! We went on till everyone had a shot. Lastly, we declared the winner who guessed the most lies (that was me!).
3.15. Quick Questions
This game is a great warm-up exercise before any meeting. Additionally, it is one of the best ways for colleagues to interact casually by asking fun, personal questions.
All you have to do is prepare some funny questions and ask each member before the start of the meeting. Some of these may be:
- What was your childhood like?
- How do you generally spend your weekends?
- What was the last meal that you had?
This helps lighten the mood before the meeting and helps energize and motivate the employees. You can change the questions for each session.
3.16. Take a picture of…
In this game, ask members to take a picture of their room, pet, work desk, or anything else. Everyone can vote on their favorite picture and the one with maximum votes goes up on the team channel as its profile or gallery picture! This is one of the best virtual team icebreakers to keep the conversation going as members can discuss the subject of their photos and even find out if there’s an interest or hobby two or more members have in common.
3.17. Choose Your Favorite
Everyone has cravings. For me, it’s a pizza with extra cheese. I am sure all of you have something that is your favorite. Well, this game is based on what you like.
All you have to do is ask questions such as:
- Which skill would you love to have?
- What is the best pizza according to you?
- What music do you love?
Members will answer “what it is that they desire” (just referred to Lucifer, one of my favorite shows!), and even interact with other members about their choices.
3.18. Trivia Game
I don’t think I would be wrong to say that Fridays are the best for us. Hey! It’s the weekend. But what if you could amp up the fun? Say with a trivia game.
Trivia maker is one such game. You can play this game every Friday to take out the stress of the workweek. You may choose from premade games or create your own trivia questions.
First, you have to divide the members into sub-teams. Following that, you can write the trivia question and provide four possible answers (if needed). Finally, members can select the answer after discussing it over the team channel. The team with the maximum correct answers wins.
You can even take it up a notch by making rules such as every member has to answer or that a member with the wrong answer will be eliminated. Based on that, you can give prizes and rewards to the winning team.
3.19. Sell your Space
This is a fun and interactive game where you can test the sales skills of every member. This is quite simple. All they have to do is select a thing from their home and sell it to another member in the next 10-15 minutes. They can come with the product name, price, and features. The one with the most sales will be declared the winner.
3.20. The Emoji Song Game
In this game, you can split the members into two teams and ask them to select songs. Following that, a team will try to depict the theme through emojis, and the other team will figure out the song. The team with the most songs correctly identified wins!
3.21. Jungle Jumble
This game lets you understand how observant the other members are. First, all the members have to switch on their cameras. After that, everyone will get thirty seconds to take in each other’s room or workstation visually. Next, switch off the cameras and move any one item around the room to another location.
After about two minutes, everyone has to switch their cameras back on. The first person who finds the most items moved will win.
3.22. Word of the Day
This game also tests the observation skills of the members. In this game, the organizer will announce that they will use an unusual word in the conversation at the start of a meeting. Then, the members have to guess that word and where the host used it. The word can be anything, for instance, “radish” or “bug spray” or anything silly that comes to your mind.
To ease the process, you can give them a hint. Then, the person who guesses it right has to exclaim: ‘word of the day!’.
3.23. Trivia Hour
Virtual team-building activities aren’t complete without members knowing everything about them. As the organizer, you can create trivia questions from employee records, social media profiles, etc. Based on that, you can pose questions about their favorite bands, their creative talent, and so on.
Following that, you can upload the quiz link before the meeting and encourage everyone to answer the trivia questions about one another.
3.24. 100 Point Puzzle
The SorryonMute team had the chance to try out Dan Paech’s 100 Point Challenge, which features a Master puzzle that you can get to only after solving a series of riddles. Dan was our facilitator and he sent the two teams into breakout rooms to come up with team names and discuss strategy. We then clicked on the game link and worked out the riddles. Although we didn’t crack the master puzzle, we used the old divide and conquer strategy to work out the individual riddles.
The entire experience lasted 40 minutes. It was quite enjoyable, which is why the team and I recommend trying it before getting into your meeting! 100 Point has adapted to the current Covid situation and offers online experiences for hybrid and fully remote teams,so you’re sure to find something everyone will like! This is a game that will encourage your teams to work together and challenge their deductive reasoning and quick thinking skills!
Last but not least- ‘Pictionary.’ We have all played Pictionary at some stage, either with friends or family.
For the uninitiated, Pictionary is a simple game. The organizer will make two teams. One person will be given the word, and they have to draw it on a whiteboard. Since the team is virtual, you can do this on a digital collaborative platform such as Miro, Mural, or Stormboard. Then, the team members will guess the word with the help of the picture. The other team will do the same. Lastly, the team with the most guesses wins.
4.1. How do icebreakers actually work?
Icebreakers help attendees catch up and relax before the meeting begins. They help improve the efficiency of meetings by strengthening bonds between participants. In a nutshell, icebreakers help in improving team collaboration, team engagement, and employee communication.s.
4.2. How to liven every remote meeting?
A virtual team icebreaker or a fun activity will help liven the meeting. It makes the members more engaged and more interactive. An icebreaker at the beginning of a digital meeting freshens up the mood of the participants, thus, making them more active.
4.3. How to define good virtual icebreakers?
Good virtual icebreakers are the ones that make meetings something that participants look forward to attending. An icebreaker draws out attendees and engages them. It gives everyone equal opportunities to participate. They can even provide suggestions for activities and games to try at the next meeting, which deepen the interest.
4.4. How to select the best virtual icebreaker?
To select the best icebreaker, you must first understand the mindset of the participants. Moreover, you should also take the tone of the next meeting into account. Finally, as the organizer, you must know what you want to achieve with the icebreaker.
4.5. Are there any free icebreakers?
Yes, there are plenty of free icebreakers. Some of the notable ones from this list are:
- Two truths and a lie
- Table Topics
- Take a picture
- Where in the world