15 Virtual Icebreakers for Online Meetings
Remote work Meetings Guides for Businesses

15 Virtual Icebreakers for Online Meetings

Vibhanshu Dixit
Vibhanshu Dixit

Table of Contents

Waking up in the morning with a fresh cup of coffee and anticipating that you can work from your bed is a dream come true.

As soon as you open your laptop for a meeting, you realize there is a disconnect because everyone is at a loss for how to proceed.

Indeed, this is not a dream come true!

There are many benefits of remote work that have made it a preferred mode of working across the globe. But it comes bundled with several challenges we're not prepared to handle yet. One of them is engagement.

"Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people." - Steve Jobs

When teams work from home, communication and collaboration both are needed for smooth functioning.

An email or a text on Slack does the job of exchange of information, but running collaborative meetings with a free flow of ideas is a tad more difficult.

virtual icebreakers

Communication and collaboration are needed for smooth functioning when teams work from home.

An email or a text on Slack does the job of exchanging information, but running collaborative meetings with a free flow of ideas is a tad more difficult. 

Collaboration isn't just about talking to each other; it's a strategy that boosts a team's progress.

Collaboration has the power to impact the bottom line of an organization as it leads to:

  • Improved flexibility of employees: Flexibility leads to better handling of sudden changes in the business.
  • Increased engagement in employees: Only 33% of the employees in the USA say they feel engaged in their jobs. Icebreakers for virtual meetings are a great way to boost engagement.
  • Healthier employees: When employees feel integral to an organization, their wellness improves.
  • Improved Meeting Productivity: Collaboration reduces hindrances, thus decreasing the need for hour-long meetings.

There are no water cooler chats or time to connect informally with your colleagues in remote work.

This absence of workplace relatability can lead to reduced engagement over time. And managers might struggle to keep the team motivated and spark energy and creativity in the employees.

That's why you must break the ice during online meetings to find the hidden gem.

What is a virtual icebreaker?

what is a virtual icebreaker

In the simplest sense:

Icebreakers are activities that turn colleagues into friends, allowing you to connect, collaborate, and progress quickly.

When icebreakers are implemented in remote work online meetings, they are called virtual icebreakers.

A virtual icebreaker is your next chance to become friends with your co-workers. Making friends at the workplace is critical because it can boost employee satisfaction by 50%. In fact, people with best friends at work are found to be 7x more engaged in their job.

When to use Virtual icebreakers?

When to use virtual icebreakers

Surveys suggest that 52% of companies are not conducting any team-building activities with remote employees. That’s a lot of missed opportunities.

Something as simple as virtual meeting icebreakers can make your team more effective. But timing is crucial here.

  • Virtual icebreakers are most fruitful when used before every meeting. This is especially beneficial for the teams that operate from different locations and can't meet personally. Virtual icebreakers can help them build relationships and rapport.
  • Icebreakers for virtual meetings can develop trust and boost cooperation. Perhaps your company is going through a departmental mergerand you must bring the 'two sides' together.
  • Virtual icebreakers for remote teams are a lively way of introducing new people to the team/ group. New employees are hesitant and nervous about starting a conversation. Icebreakers can lighten the meeting mood so that the entire team can communicate in a fun way.

When so many employees work remotely, it’s crucial to foster a sense of community through team-building exercises. This can strengthen relationships and boost engagement by as much as 50%.

Now let’s dig into different icebreakers to foster team-building:

15 Virtual Icebreakers to Reconnect with Your Team

1. Zoom Background: A Fun Virtual Icebreaker

Virtual icebreaker

A warm smile is the universal language of kindness- William Arthur Ward

A smile can be a conversation icebreaker. Zoom's background challenge is all about filling moments with laughter. In town halls or team meetings, take the Zoom challenge and liven up the mood.

Set a theme and ask your teammates or attendees to pick a virtual background that best suits it. There are no limits on how creative you can get: disco, 90s movies, dream places, vacations, memes, and more.

Watching each other giggling about each other's background images will break the ice swiftly. The entire atmosphere will become lively because, psychologically, a smile is contagious. By the time you stop smiling, you'll have many topics to discuss.

What's more? Zoom background is not just about making things fun. Apart from breaking the ice and fostering conversation, it also accomplishes business objectives.

Here's a real-life story along the same lines:

After nearly two years as a sales development executive, Justin Reidt was excited to apply for a higher role at another company. He found out that he'd be interviewing a die-hard fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, and that's when it hit.

Reidt chose an image of Staples Center (Lakers play here) as his Zoom background before the interview.

"I'm really glad I did it because he instantly opened up," Reidt says.

"He was like, 'Ah, man, you got me! You know what you're doing here, right?'"

The hiring manager posted the screenshot of the interview and shared it on LinkedIn.

Reidt won the job.

Get creative with these zoom backgrounds from Canva library and Pocket-lint.

2. Treasure Hunt at Home

Virtual icebreakers - treasure hunt

Okay, this one requires physical activity that also improves your energy levels.

Hop in a meeting and ask your team to do any of the following:

  • You've 30 seconds to bring something spherical.
  • Grab an object that's blue within 10 seconds.
  • What's the weirdest thing in your room? Fetch it and show us.
  • Bring something that scares you at night.

This short virtual icebreaker is fun and engaging. People share interesting stories about the objects they fetch. It's a perfect icebreaker for remote teams that include freshers. This activity will reveal different facts about every teammate and build a healthy relationship.

3. Sketch and Doodle

Virtual icebreaker
Credits: Zoom

Let your creativity flow into a masterpiece.

Create some art together. It doesn't matter if you draw like Picasso or Tim, a kindergarten student. All that you need is paper, a pen or a pencil.

Give a theme or a subject to draw and set five minutes for everyone to finish. Then, ask everyone to show their doodles. You can take this further by opening the Zoom whiteboard and scribbling there. Ask your teammates to draw something that resembles their mood.

You can open the Zoom whiteboard in just three steps:

  • Click on the share screen, then choose whiteboard and click share.
  • Tell every member to click Annotate on the upper side of the screen.
  • Pick the desired annotation tool, text, pen, pencil, etc., and start scribbling.

4. Perform Body Gestures

Body gestures - virtual ice breakers

Psychology says body language can lead to a deeper conversation. In a meeting, use physical gestures to express yourself better. Create signals using your hands and show them to the camera.

For instance, show the clapping gesture with your hands if you're celebrating something. If you have a question, raise your hand to attract the speaker's attention.

Make a heart symbol with your hands to express love, support, or gratitude. The idea of this icebreaker for virtual meetings is to bring back physical gestures into the conversation.

5. Team Titans Quiz

A team quiz is a perfect way to know your colleagues better. Try this virtual icebreaker for remote teams and erase all the awkwardness. Collect facts about your teammates, like a favorite book or first job, and let others guess them in the meeting!

This activity is a perfect team-building exercise for workers who know each other a bit.

6. Let Emojis show your Emotions

Use emojis for virtual ice breaking

Asking everyone how they feel in a meeting takes a lot of time. A better way is to ask them to use emojis in a meeting. Ask members about their current moods to break the nervous ice at the start of the session.

Emojis rule the online world because they show emotions. Use icebreaker emojis in web chats, such as Slack, too.

You'll see that there is a difference when you drop a text with emoji and without it. Sending emojis in a group chat can ease even the shy ones too!

7. Best and Worst Moment of the Month

"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." - Phil Jackson

Collaboration is all about understanding and helping each other. In its basic sense, it's about humanity. Celebrating the best moments of your colleagues is a powerful way to uplift spirits.

At the start of your meeting, ask your teammates to share their best moments of the past month. You can also ask them about their top accomplishments in the past week.

It's not just about celebrating wins but also helping in loss. After asking about the best moments, tell everyone to share their 'I'm screwed' moments.

Encourage your team to share their failures and support them. This critical team bonding exercise signals that the team works as a cohesive unit.

8. Two Truths and One Lie

This short virtual icebreaker is pretty straightforward and takes a little time.

Ask your teammates to prepare a list of two facts and one lie about themselves. It could be anything, such as their favorite hobby, dream vacation, celebrity they've met, or biggest fear. For instance, I love to write, I once met Will Smith, and I have a pet eagle.

Then, let everyone guess which one is a lie. The one with the most correct votes wins'.

Alternatively, you can play two lies and a truth in which the most incorrect voter will win. It's okay to change the rules to suit the moment.

Remember to ask about the backstory behind every fact to start a fruitful conversation.

9. The Icebreaker Coffee

Studies conclude that coffee enhances mood and communication. If you don't have a topic, sit for a coffee together.

Soon, you'll realize that you're deep into an informal discussion with your colleagues. You can even sip a coffee with a recruit during a remote interview.

Even in a remote setup, coffee time is a great virtual icebreaker for quality time with the team. Include coffee time in your virtual hours and call it anything you like: virtual water cooler, happy hours, chatterbox, you name it!

Remote work can isolate workers; thus, remember to set up frequent coffee times with your team.

Talk about things unrelated to work, share their problems, help them in need, or relish the moments. According to the reports, more than 20% of remote workers suffer from loneliness, and this icebreaker starts the conversation and uplifts the spirit.

10. Questions of Curiosity

Ask questions in virtual icebreaking

Who’s ready for a round of interesting questions?

This virtual icebreaker is a fun way to ignite communication and even healthy debate. It is most suitable for teams with 5 to 10 members who have met once or twice. For bigger teams, you can create breakout groups and ask curious questions.

Here are a few light-hearted questions to get started:

  • What was your first job?
  • What's your favorite season and why?
  • What's your favorite food/drink?
  • If there was a movie made about your life, who would play you?
  • What's your biggest guilty pleasure?
  • What do your surroundings look like?
  • What's your favorite place to go on vacation?
  • What's your favorite movie or book?
  • What's your favorite smell?
  • What music do you like?
  • If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be?
  • When I dance, I look like ___ [fill in the blank].
  • Do you have any pets?
  • What's the best vacation you've had?
  • If you had a pet flamingo, what would you name it?
  • If you could visit anywhere, where would you go?
  • What's the last song you listened to?
  • What was your first job?

There's no end to the questions you can ask. In fact, if you ever run out of questions, use this question generator tool to keep the momentum going.

11. The Choice Game

This icebreaker is a hypothetical questionnaire that ignites creativity and discussion. Use this game to learn about the teammates' character, thoughts, and attitude or during the virtual onboarding of new employees.

Before joining a meeting, prepare a list of 5 to 10 random and fun questions. For instance:

  • What would you choose: a room with books but no internet or a room with no books but only the internet?
  • What would you choose: a day without your phone or a laptop?
  • What would you pet: an eagle or an elephant?

In meetings, you can play this game in two formats:

  • Create small teams with 2 to 3 members in them. This will foster healthy conversation between them and lead to lots of laughter.
  • If you're a larger team, you can conduct a poll and ask one or two colleagues to explain their responses.

12. Show Your Picture

virtual icebreaker: show your picture
Credits: Unsplash

Pictures speak a thousand words, and sharing one is the best way to start a conversation. For this icebreaker, ask your teammates to go to their phone's gallery and upload a picture on the chat.

Then, ask them the story behind it and why they clicked it. It's a sweet little activity that helps build better bonds between people.

PS: Tell the team only to share the pictures they're comfortable with.

13. Open Up About Your Workspace

Get to know your team by exploring the spaces where they work. Start by having each team member introduce themselves and share a significant workspace element.

Opt for a visual platform where members can share still images rather than live video, creating a comfortable space for everyone. This helps to understand each other's work environments and fosters empathy, sparking interesting conversations about different work styles and collaborative approaches.

14. Spill the Beans on Awkward Moments and What They Taught You

Woman waving hand
Credits: Unsplash

Strike a balance (set some rules, like keeping it work-friendly from the start), and encourage team members to share personal stories that give a peek into their experiences. This activity builds empathy and understanding in diverse groups, positively affecting team creativity.

When introducing themselves, ask folks to pick a quick 1 minute story from their past that might have been a bit embarrassing, and share the important lessons they learned from those experiences.

15. Connect for Insightful Conversations

This virtual icebreaker encourages deeper conversations among teammates. If you've used breakout rooms before, you'll find this one quite engaging.

Pose a thought-provoking question for everyone to ponder, then randomly pair them up using breakout rooms (if your video conferencing tool supports it).

Give each pair a few minutes to delve into the topic before bringing everyone back to the main room to share insights.

This activity offers a refreshing change from the typical 'turn to your neighbor' routine. It fosters interactive discussions and allows for more meaningful exchanges between participants. Plus, it provides a comfortable setting for introverts to open up, as sharing in pairs feels less daunting than addressing the entire team.

How Fireflies enhances your virtual icebreakers

Fireflies for virtual icebreakers
  • Automatically Record and Transcribe Your Online SessionsFireflies.ai effortlessly captures and transcribes virtual icebreakers, ensuring no valuable information or insights from team-building exercises are lost.
  • Effortless Integration: Seamlessly invite Fireflies Notetaker to your virtual icebreakers through your calendar or integrate it with popular apps like Google MeetZoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, Ringcentral, Aircall, and more.
  • AI-Powered Search: Find specific information from your sessions quickly with Fireflies' Smart Search feature, enabling you to review a one-hour meeting in just a few minutes.
  • Collaboration Made Easy: Facilitate effective collaboration with your team by adding comments, pins, and reactions to specific parts of conversations and effortlessly sharing notes on collaboration apps like SlackNotion, and Asana.
  • Insights with Conversation Intelligence: Analyze sessions comprehensively using conversation intelligence, tracking participant engagement, sentiment, key takeaways, and other valuable metrics to enhance team bonding and communication.
  • Streamlined Workflows: Automate workflows directly by letting Fireflies.ai organize key insights, action items, and memorable moments, creating tasks with voice commands in tools like Asana, ClickUp, Trello, and Monday.com, and instantly sharing recaps to collaboration apps.
  • Real-Time Knowledge Base: Create a knowledge base from all your sessions. Organize memorable moments into channels for easy accessibility and set custom privacy controls to ensure a positive and inclusive team-building experience.

Boasting advanced features and an intuitive interface, Fireflies is a smart tool that streamlines the meeting process, enhances collaboration, and safeguards against overlooking valuable information.

💡 Elevate Meeting Productivity with Fireflies

Make your virtual meetings more efficient with Fireflies – unlock seamless recording, transcription, summarization, and analysis for elevated productivity and efficient virtual interactions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Mash Up a delightful and speedy icebreaker?

In this activity, two volunteers stand up and, after counting to three, each spontaneously utters the first word that comes to mind. They then repeat the process to find a word that intersects between the two initial words. This helps participants get creative and decrease their inhibitions.

What is the premise of the five-finger game icebreaker?

The Five Finger Game icebreaker involves everyone raising one hand with five fingers. Starting with one person, participants take turns saying, "Never have I ever..." If someone has experienced that particular thing, they lower one finger. This process continues around the room or on the Zoom screen until one person puts all their fingers down.

Describe a team-building activity lasting 15 minutes.

15-minute team building activities are designed for swift and interactive engagement. Examples include Two Truths and a Lie, Playing Favorites, and Remote Viewing. These activities boost morale by offering enjoyable opportunities for team members to connect in a relatively short time frame.

What defines an energizer game and its role in group dynamics?

Particularly useful after a meal or during energy lulls, energizers can help maintain enthusiasm and motivation. They often overlap with icebreakers and team-building activities, serving as short breathers to keep groups engaged and invigorated. Rock paper scissors or take a pic of your shoes are some examples of energizers.

Bring Back The Human Touch

Humans are psychologically wired to feel connected and integrated with others. But remote work has made it difficult to interact with colleagues regularly.

When implementing virtual icebreakers in your online meetings, the innovative Fireflies emerges as a game-changer, seamlessly integrating with the collaborative spirit of these activities.

With its remarkable note-taking feature, Fireflies ensures you can fully immerse yourself in meetings, enjoying a hands-free experience. This unique capability enhances productivity and perfectly aligns with the essence of efficient and engaging virtual interactions.

Studies and Statistics sources: Gallup, HBR, UNC, Buffer, SHRM.

Read Next:

How to Make Virtual Meetings More Interactive
Virtual meetings are a great way to interact with colleagues. Here are some tips on how to make your meetings more interactive and engaging.

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