The shift to remote work, virtual interaction, teleconference, and the use of virtual coworking spaces has grown tremendously because of the advancement in video conferencing software. The statistics can confirm it – Zoom is currently among the top downloaded apps, with 52.2 million installs.
While this is excellent news for many businesses and workers, there is a disadvantage to every advantage. Remote work and online meetings limit interpersonal relationships, breed isolation, and are less dynamic. These pitfalls can make online meetings less effective.
The cost of unproductive meetings is damaging, first and foremost, to your company. Every misunderstanding can result in operational mistakes your business doesn’t need. Luckily, there are many ways to make online meetings lively and make remote teams more productive.
Enter virtual icebreakers – your number one tool to energize and engage your team during meetings and web conference calls.
Virtual icebreakers are team-building activities that come in various types. Their primary aim is to set the tone and mood of the meeting, allowing your team members to connect on a personal level while enjoying a fun time together.
If you have never tried a virtual icebreaker, you are in luck! This post will uncover various icebreakers to engage your team and make online meetings more effective.
Business-focused icebreakers can be used to make employees think and share dreams, aspirations, and opportunities. Your teams will share their vision of your brand’s future and what needs to be done for its success.
Here are a few examples.
1. Motivation booster
The goal of this activity is to learn what keeps your employees motivated and encourage them to share motivation tips and tricks with other team members.
You can do something as basic as a virtual call with your team, where every employee shares knowledge, wisdom, and expertise in achieving dreams, reaching goals, or overcoming obstacles. Make sure that everyone gets to participate equally.
2. Setting objectives
With objectives, you can ask the team about the goals they would like to achieve at the end of the session, program, or career. Give employees time to gather their ideas and share the objectives or goals with other members. In some instances, you can ask employees to work on group objectives. It’s a nice exercise to build up teamwork.
3. Success and challenges
Every person has faced some challenges in their career and also recorded success. Before the meeting starts, ask each employee to share their biggest hurdles and obstacles, either at work or in personal life. This activity helps build connections and build a rapport among employees.
Rewards promote meaningful relationships between employees and the business. This is your way to say thank you to your teams and boost their motivation by showing that you appreciate them.
For this icebreaker, ask your employees what they would do with a reward. It will give you an idea of the reward types your team will appreciate the most.
Group connection icebreakers/Group-based icebreakers
Group-based icebreakers mainly involve team activities aiming to enhance team effectiveness and work output. You can go around the groups with these types of icebreakers.
1. No smiling
A no-smiling is a simple game to energize your team. You can use it during management training, employee induction, or groups dealing with demanding work projects.
This activity is simple: during a call, pick a volunteer to crack a joke. The rest of the team should neither smile nor laugh. You can also have your team read a series of funny emails while trying to remain serious. Such activity can help lighten your team’s mood, especially if they have a difficult meeting ahead.
2. True or false
True or false icebreakers work well if you want your team members to get to know each other better. It’s also suitable if you have new employees joining the team.
The first step is to collect some information about team members. From this info, create a poll and make colleagues pick out the lies and truths about the employee from the survey. After this, share the result with the team and announce the employee with the correct answer. You may also encourage the employee to share the story behind the statement.
3. Share a photo
If you want to spice up a meeting, ask team members to share an embarrassing photo, which you can do easily if your team is utilizing video conferencing software. It can be a photo of their baby, pet, or themselves as toddlers. Encourage members to guess what the photo is all about. Such activities not only get a conversation started but also build connections and encourage bonding.
4. Guessing games
For small groups, a guessing game can work magic to help fight boredom. You can do several guessing games allowing your employees to form a bond and learn more about each other.
A guessing game can be as simple as surveying your employee and creating questions about them. Send out these questions to employees before the meeting to get responses. During your web conference call with the team, share the answers and discuss the stories behind them.
5. Bucket list
Another favorite activity encourages employees to share their life goals and objectives they would like to achieve.
This activity is pretty straightforward. Ask your employees to share their bucket list, and once you have it, offer employees with similar goals to meet and help one another achieve objectives. The goal here is to build a lasting relationship between employees.
Every person has a favorite activity, goal, chore, or treasure. These activities keep them motivated, boost their creativity and productivity.
With this type of icebreaker, send employees a list of questions regarding their favorites and collect the responses. It can be a movie, song, or dish. The aim of this icebreaker is to spark conversation about likes and dislikes and improve relationships among remote teams, especially with employees that have similar interests.
Icebreakers for building trust and deepen relationships
In every organization, employee trust is key to its success and growth. But this is only possible when employees know each other well.
The following icebreakers can be an excellent opportunity to build relationships based on trust.
1. Life stories
Many of us love listening to life stories, especially when they come from someone within our network. This ice breaker can also bring team leaders closer to other employees and help them manage the team better.
For this icebreaker, make each employee share a personal story with the entire team or break employees into small teams and let them take turns sharing their personal stories. The employee or team with the most captivating story wins. To prevent members from sharing intimate stories, ensure the story is related to work matters.
With this icebreaker, aim to find a team with a lot of commonalities. For starters, let the team form separate groups and ask them to make a list of things each group has in common. Give team members a fixed timeframe to compile the list and award the team with the longest list of commonalities. Don’t stop there but encourage teams with fewer commonalities to find out what can help them work together.
3. Personality test
Personality tests work wonders to help team members learn more about each other. These tests can also be handy for team leaders and HRs.
Using an online personality quiz generator, let everyone complete the personality assessment quiz and display the results on your dashboard. Later or after the meeting, members can discuss the things they have in common.
4. Where you come from
With this activity, create a map and let members pick the locations where they were born and got their education. This is an amazing opportunity for the team members to learn about each other and get a few topics to discuss during lunch and coffee breaks.
Icebreakers for getting unstuck
How often did you get stuck during a meeting? Probably a lot, especially if the subject of the meeting is quite challenging.
There are also other reasons why you can get a brain freeze during a meeting: irrelevant discussions, poor prioritization techniques, polarizing opinions. If you feel like you and your team got stuck resolving a certain problem, here are the activities that can help you.
1. Pop Quiz
You can use pop quizzes for team bonding or just for fun. Nonetheless, quizzes are a great way to refocus and recharge your mind. The quiz can be broad, like asking employees about the company founder or touch upon a completely different topic. But try to keep the quiz related to the topic of your meeting.
2. Coffee breaks
Coffee time and breaks are ideal when your team is at loggerheads and fails to reach a consensus on a topic. Even if you’re using a virtual coworking space, it’s still possible to set up coffee breaks.
Employees can spend quality time together during virtual happy hours and watercooler talks. These small catch-ups help divert employees’ attention to non-work matters so that they can get back to the meeting with fresh perspectives.
3. Work style
Getting stuck may also result from a poor work style or the organization’s strict work requirements. Thus, the best way to get unstuck in this situation is to understand the best work style for your employees.
So, let employees fill a report about their work style and show others how each person carries out their tasks. Aim to make employees understand a colleague’s work style as well.
4. Yoga or dance break
When your employees feel sleepy or are zoning out, their commitment to the agenda is below par. What they need is a short distraction like playing a song or letting team members dance to their favorite tunes for about 10 or 20 minutes.
Icebreakers for fun
Working in isolation breeds boredom, which may transfer into meetings. A morale booster or activity should help get your team starting the meeting on a more exciting note. Here are the activities you can do for fun.
1. Whose office is this
If you want your colleagues to know each other better, let them take a peek at the colleague’s workstation. Your task is to collect photos of members’ offices or workstations and create a poll on the dashboard. Make sure to provide options on the poll. Next, ask employees to guess whose office or workplace it is during the meeting. Such activity is ideal for starting a relatively slow weekday.
2. Guess my job
“Guess My Job” icebreaker is ideal for introducing a new employee, manager, or another employee dressed in different attire. As a manager, create a cartoon avatar of the employee using Bitmoji or another emoji meme maker, show it to your teammates and let them guess who it is and their job descriptions.
Guessing games encourage interactions among workers. Besides, there are so many options you can use to inspire your team.
3. Theme days
Theme days are meetings where you have already settled how members will be dressed for the meeting, beauty filters to use, or the background to set. The aim is to start conversations surrounding the theme and build relationships. You should send employees emails with a theme before the meeting. After the meeting, let employees vote for the best costume, background, performance, etc.
4. Virtual city tour
Virtual tours are fun activities you can do using a virtual reality headset or on Google Expedition. Alternatively, ask an employee to share a video of a past trip before the meeting day. Edit the video and share it with the team on the meeting day and let everyone enjoy the experience.
Icebreakers during training and online lessons
These types of icebreakers help you hone interpersonal and communication skills. Here are some of the activities you can use.
1. Introduction interviews
A great way to help your team know each other better during online collaborative learning is with introduction interviews.
For this activity, ask the participants to interview one another. After the interview, do another round of introduction but on this occasion, let the second party introduce the neighbor the same way a girlfriend would introduce her boyfriend to the parent. Introduction interviews improve the connection process and reduce the awkwardness common with introductions.
2. Meet and greet
For this type of icebreaker, let participants send high fives to each other. It can be virtual or simple introductory messages. Make sure you encourage employees to share contacts, reasons for joining the meeting, and what they plan to learn or bring on board.
3. Ball toss
Adding fun to remote employee training and seminars does not need to be expensive or complicated. A simple but interesting activity you can do with attendees involves tossing a ball with or without questions from one participant to another.
With this activity, the interviewer passes a ball to participants at random and asks them questions. Those who get the ball can answer the questions and may pass the ball to the next person or let the interviewer do it, and participants write their responses in the chat window. To succeed, ensure your questions are related to talents and skills and that every participant takes part in the activity. After that, you can encourage those with similar skills or talents to meet, interact, and chat their way forward.
4. Find a person
Most virtual event platforms have features that enable users to create name tags for easy entry and participation during the meeting. To build connections and increase engagement, exchange the name tags among the attendees. Next, ask the person holding a different name tag to match it to the right owner. Such activities help attendees meet new people and get to know them better.
Teamwork and problem-solving icebreakers
For these icebreakers, you would want to promote the different ways employees can solve problems or assess risks. While these ice breakers may be hard to execute, they bring immense benefits. Problem-solving icebreakers require that you divide participants into different pairs and make them do the following.
1. Letter hunt
Letter hunt involves giving each team member a task to find a letter of your choice. The letter can be related to the problem at hand or another task. Alternatively, provide a puzzle and let the team fill in the missing letters. For this icebreaker, make sure you encourage the team members to be creative when seeking solutions.
2. Simulate a problem
Another way to build teamwork is to simulate a problem. Here, simulate a scenario where your team is facing everyday problems. Then, ask members to develop solutions, plans, and strategies to execute the solution. Team members can use a collaborative whiteboard to share their ideas. This activity helps your team to develop problem-solving abilities, improves knowledge retention, and facilitates cooperation.
3. Visual brainstorming
When teams are shouting ideas at each other during brainstorming, it may be chaotic, and some team members may be discouraged from participating. Using visual collaboration tools, let your team members visualize their ideas and put their thoughts on display. This technique helps when you have a vague starting point on an idea or agenda during brainstorming. It helps you narrow down the problem and pinpoint the actual solution.
Over to you
In every online meeting, you need a productive team that can generate and share new ideas, find solutions to problems, and channel a course of action. But sometimes, this may not be possible every single time. There are moments when your team is disengaged and lacks focus.
With the above virtual icebreakers, you can improve the atmosphere of online meetings, workplace culture, ignite friendly online interactions, and develop strong bonds with your teammates to improve productivity and remove the feeling of isolation. Implement them and spice up your online meetings.