In this article, we'll explore the benefits of icebreakers for virtual meetings, creative and effective ideas and games.
Working from home is now a must, resulting in more virtual teams and meetings. Virtual communication has advantages but presents unique challenges, like making it harder to build team bonds.
Icebreakers are fun and engaging activities that can help overcome this challenge. They create a relaxed and comfortable environment that encourages team members to interact with each other.
In this article, we'll explore the benefits of icebreakers for virtual meetings. We also provide creative and effective ideas and games to help your team connect and communicate better.
Technology allows us to work remotely anywhere worldwide. These advances bring significant benefits, like increased engagement and commitment, a stronger sense of purpose, and higher empowerment.
On the other hand, the lack of face-to-face interactions has made employees feel less connected to their coworkers. JLL's Ben Hemley said it well: "The 'more hybrid' someone's work pattern is, the more they reported feeling overwhelmed. Both by a huge mental burden and isolated, lacking strong connections with colleagues."
Ice Breakers can help solve these challenges by allowing team members to connect beyond the work they have to do on a video call. This is key for companies to drive employee engagement, the level people feel committed to their job.
According to Microsoft data, only half of remote employees have strong relationships with their teams. And even fewer (42%) have good relationships with other teams. Humu found that most remote workers need help to get along with their coworkers, collaborate, and connect.
This is especially true during onboarding, when only 29% of new employees feel fully supported, often needing more connection to team members.
Ice Breakers create ways to connect during virtual meetings in a human way, helping people to bond. This forms the basis for better collaboration, increased productivity, and more.
There are many ways to do ice breakers for virtual meetings at work. The simplest way is to ask an ice breaker question during the morning meeting. As a manager or team leader, you want to start the meeting with something fun before diving into the work.
These ice breaker questions get everyone to pay attention right when the meeting starts. It also primes people to be empathetic as they hear others reply as human beings, not just as coworkers.
What are some examples of ice breaker questions as team-building activities? Here are a few that we found work well:
Two Truths and a Lie
Each person shares three statements about themselves - two true and one false - and the others must guess the lie. It's a simple game, but it can reveal many interesting things about your colleagues, like hobbies, favorite foods, and travel experiences.
Pop culture preferences
You select a topic or category, like movies, TV shows, or music, after which everyone names something from that category. If someone can't think of anything, they're out. The game continues until only one person is left standing.
Favorite movie or TV show
The meeting leader asks each person to share their favorite TV show and explain why they love it. It's a simple game but can reveal much about your coworkers' personalities and interests. It may spark some friendly debate or discussion about different shows.
You ask people to share their favorite food and why – perfect for foodies or anyone who loves cooking or eating. It's a great conversation starter and can lead to interesting discussions about different cuisines and cooking styles.
How to choose the right ice breaker question?
Choosing the right ice breaker question may be difficult, and the ground rule is not to overthink it. It may seem silly now, but anything that lets people share about themselves on video conferencing is a win for you and your team.
To ensure the question works, consider the context, like the meeting you're about to have and who's attending. Think also about what you've already tried and what worked, building on that.
Sometimes you want to do more than ask questions and hear people's replies on the fly. That's when Ice Breaker games come into play. Ice Breaker games have the same purpose as Ice Breaker questions, to connect coworkers as people beyond the work. But they have a bit more production value.
Ice Breaker games vary; the best ones take little preparation and can be done on the fly. Besides Virtual Scavenger Hunt, Two Truths and a Lie, and Guilty Pleasure, here are some Ice Breaker Games we love:
Remote team members must quickly get to know the person behind their screen names. Sharing a personal photo and its story is ideal for team members to become more familiar with each other. Find a free Photo Collage template here.
If you want to cultivate a positive and appreciative atmosphere in your team, consider a Kudo Wall for your next meeting. By expressing appreciation and gratitude through kudos, you can create a powerful motivator to help enhance team members' connections. Find a free Kudo Wall template here.
The Body Scan activity promotes emotional expression and fosters a more profound connection among team members. Add it to the beginning of your team meetings and establish a constructive and empathetic work atmosphere. It will help you prioritize well-being and strengthen team relationships. Find a free Body Scan template here.
Like Ice Breaker questions, think about it briefly; any game will be great to connect and play with your team. But if you need some guidance, here are some tips to help you choose the right ice breaker question:
Also, note that it's essential to let managers lead these activities. Managers have 2x much impact on employee engagement and culture change as anyone else in the organization. They can make or break the employee experience and how employees work together to achieve common goals and best positioned to drive these activities with their teams.
Running any activity can be challenging. How do you command people's attention? How do you engage them throughout? How to end the session well?
Below are a few tips for running these kinds of exercises hundreds of times.
On the day of the Ice Breaker, it's good to introduce the activity and share some ground rules properly. Sometimes the meeting starts in a few minutes, but everyone is focused on their work or chatting. How can you get their attention without feeling awkward?
Share that instead of looking at emails and spreadsheets, let's take a break and spend the next 10 minutes connecting as a team. However, before starting, you want to set some ground rules to ensure the session is productive.
Please respect everyone's ideas and opinions, avoid interrupting or dominating the conversation, and adhere to the time limit. It's important to remind them to keep an open mind, actively listen to each other, and ask clarifying questions. Finally, you can dive into the session and enjoy the activity.
Setting the tone this way will mean people know what to expect, provide clear instructions, and encourage participation.
Toward the end of the activity, you can recap and remind people that this was great. You can also summarize any specific learnings you've gained.
Icebreakers are fun activities that can help virtual teams connect and communicate better. This is especially important since only half of remote employees have strong relationships with their teams.
Icebreakers can drive employee engagement, making it easier for team members to connect beyond work. One easy way to do icebreakers for virtual meetings is to ask a question during the morning meeting. Icebreaker games are also effective but should take a short time to prepare.
As a manager or team leader, starting a virtual team meeting with an icebreaker question or game can create a relaxed and comfortable environment that encourages interaction. Anything that allows team members to share about themselves is beneficial. Try these icebreakers in your next virtual team meeting to help your team connect and engage.