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Engagement

17 Virtual Icebreakers for Hybrid and Remote Meetings

Explore 17 of the most fun virtual icebreakers for online meetings, creative and effective ideas and games to connect your team better.

Working from home is now the norm for most knowledge workers, resulting in more virtual teams and meetings. 

And while there are many benefits of remote work, like increased engagement and commitment, a stronger sense of purpose, and higher empowerment. So far, so good.

On the other hand, the lack of face-to-face interactions remote work brings can make employees feel less connected to their coworkers unless we take action: according to our research, 23% of hybrid and remote workers say their manager is not doing enough to help them connect with coworkers.

Icebreaker questions for work and other getting to know you activities are fun and engaging ways to overcome this challenge. They create a relaxed and comfortable environment that encourages team members to interact with each other.

As People Operations Lead, I love organizing these activities for our FlexOS team.

In this article, I’ll explore some of my favorite virtual icebreakers for your next meetings, including creative and impactful ideas and games to help your team connect and communicate better.

What are virtual icebreakers?

Virtual icebreakers are activities or questions designed to build connections and facilitate interactions among team members in virtual meeting and remote work settings. 

Virtual icebreakers take traditional 'getting to know each other (better)' to the online realm. 

They serve several important purposes, including:

  • Building Team Bonds: Virtual icebreakers create a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere that encourages team members to interact and get to know each other beyond work-related discussions.
  • Enhancing Engagement: These activities increase engagement and commitment among team members, fostering a stronger sense of purpose and empowerment.
  • Alleviating Isolation: In remote work, work from home loneliness can creep in. Icebreakers help mitigate this by promoting connections beyond work tasks.
  • Boosting Remote Collaboration: Building relationships through icebreakers forms the foundation for better collaboration, increased employee productivity, and overall team cohesion.

Engaging Virtual Workspaces for Remote Teams

Enhancing your remote team's engagement by setting up a tailored virtual workspace is a must. Explore our 5 picks.

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." – Ben Hemley, JLL

Icebreakers 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 at which people feel committed to their jobs.

Icebreakers for Remote Teams
Icebreakers for Remote Teams

1. Quick virtual icebreaker questions

If you have little time, a quick virtual icebreaker question will do the job. 

But take it from me: just because they're simple doesn't mean they need to be boring. Let's dive into a few activities that can go way beyond just icebreaker questions.

Virtual Meeting Platforms To Make Remote Work Effective & Engaging

Online meetings don't have to be dull or annoying. Explore the best virtual meeting platforms to boost your collaboration with fun.

There are many ways to do icebreakers for a virtual meeting at work. 

The simplest way is to ask icebreaker questions at the start of your meeting. As a manager or team leader, you want to start the session with something fun before diving into the work.

These icebreaker 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.

#1. Icebreaker Questions

Icebreaker Questions for Work
Icebreaker Questions for Work

You may experience awkward silence on Zoom or other virtual meeting platforms; team members turn off the camera, waiting until the right time to take turns and speak up. 

Icebreaker questions are the simplest way to break the quiet, shake things up, and kick off engaging conversations before your meetings.

Forget boring and stale icebreaker questions – enter the AI Icebreaker Questions Generator.

Simply type in who's participating, how long the icebreaker should last, and what the purpose of your session is (if any.) 

The tool will deliver a set of personalized questions to spark your team's enjoyable conversations.

How to use the AI Icebreaker Questions Generator:

  1. Click on the image above
  2. Click on AI Mode
  3. Share your icebreaker session topic or purpose. Example: Fun Christmas.
  4. Select the length of your session - 5, 15, or 30 minutes.
  5. Input your team member names and enjoy the icebreaker question session with the team.

#2. Mood Check-in  

It's hard to capture your team's mood by asking classic questions like "How are you?"  Those simple questions often just get an "I'm good" answer. 

The mood check-in is a great way to understand how your team authentically feels through an upgraded and fun version: mood polls or emojis. 

This creates space for deeper sharing and connecting.

mood-checkin-icebreaker
Mood Poll Check-in by Slido
Mood Emojis Check-in by FlexOS Template. Download it here

How to play Mood Check-in:

Mood Poll:

1. Create an account, choose a rating poll template.

2. Send links or share a QR code with your team through screenshare.

3. Have your team respond and share.

Mood Emoji

1. Create a copy of the Favourite Emojis Icebreaker template.

2. Share an editable link with your team and wait 5 minutes for their input.

3. Open the discussion by asking your team: “Why did they pick that emoji?”

#3. Would You Rather Questions

Imagine you're at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and you can only load up your plate with one delicious food between two options: Pizza or Tacos; which one would you go for?

"Would You Rather Questions" or "This or That" are your one choice between two.

This game can ignite a discussion and be a lighthearted way to bond with your team. Ask intriguing and fun question pairs like:

  • Read minds or see the future?
  • Unlimited money or unlimited free time?
  • Fancy dinner or a cozy picnic?
  • Face your biggest fear or spend a week with the person you dislike the most.

Make it easy to play, check out, or create your own with our Would You Rather questions AI Generator.

Would You Rather
Try our would you rather questions generator here

How to play Would You Rather:

1. Select your fun level.

2. Share your Would You Rather session topic or purpose, for example, Hobby and Interest.

3. Select your difficulty level from Icebreaker, Mix-it-up, to Secrets.

4. Screenshare Would You Rather with your team and enjoy the game.

2. Short virtual icebreaker activities

#4. Two Truths and a Lie

Want to discover surprising facts about each member? Get your detective hats on and guess one lie in three statements from chosen members.

As its name suggests, Two Truths One Lie is a bonding game to get to know your people (works best for newbies joining your team).

The game can reveal many interesting things about teammates you may not otherwise hear, like hobbies, favorite foods, childhood or travel experiences, etc.

How to play Two Truths and a Lie:

1. Each person shares two factual statements and one lie about themselves.

2. Your team guesses which statement is the false one.

3. Continue until everyone has had a turn.

#5. Favorite movie or TV show

Each person has different fashion tastes, similar to movie genres. 

Learning about the movie tastes of each person in your group is also a way to understand your coworker's personalities and interests and find common ground. 

Try your Favorite Movie or TV Show; it may spark a friendly debate or discussion about different movies and fun shows. 

How to play Favorite movie and TV show:

1. Before your virtual meeting, start the game with a simple question: “What is your favorite movie recently?”

2. Let your team type on the chat, or each member take turns sharing their all-time favorite movie.

3. After each person shares, let your team discuss and engage in a fun and interactive way about different movies and shows.

#6. Scattergories

Scattergories Online

Are you looking for a brain-hacking game that challenges your team's memory and quick-thinking skills? Scattergories is the name.

For example: Listing popular pop songs in the 1990s or capitals worldwide.

In this game, each member has a short time limit, say within 10 seconds, to name something that fits the category. If someone can't name something in time, they’re out. 

The game goes on until only one person remains standing as the winner. We found an online version of Scattergories you can try with your team.

How to play Scattergories:

1. Select a category topic and determine the turn order.

2. Set a short time limit for answers, typically 10 seconds.

3. Start the game and have fun. 

4. Continue rounds with new categories until there is a winner.

#7. Favorite foods

Food is something that connects us all. Allow each team member to open their unique culinary door for others to enter. 

It can lead to mouthwatering conversations and discovering shared food interests within your team. 

Not only sharing about the dish but maybe even the thrilling stories behind them. 

How to play Favorite foods:

1. Begin with a warm-up question: “What is your all-time favorite food?”

2. Go around your virtual room with each person, describing their favorite food and why they love it.

3. Encourage your team to show a picture of their favorite food to liven it up!

4. After each share, discuss shared experiences and food interests together.

#8. Never Have I Ever

Never Have I Ever is one of the best games to reveal unexpected facts about each other.

Usually, it is a drinking game, but you don’t have to wait until you can meet in person with your distributed team to play. 

This game can be adapted creatively to online settings using hands (without needing beers or whiskey unless you want to and have some lying around.)

The game will bring a new level of fun and laughter to your next meeting. (You may have some changes in how you perceive someone after this game.)

How to play Never Have I Ever:

1. Explain the basic rules.

2. Start the game: each team member shares a statement starting with, "Never have I ever..."  about something they haven't done. Example Statements: Never have I ever been skydiving.

3. Other members put a finger down if they have done it.

4. Continue until one person remains – the winner.

#9. OneThing

Eric Partaker inspired this idea by writing on LinkedIn: “Start team meetings with each person sharing one thing that made them smile from the prior week.”

Starting meetings off positively will set the tone for productive collaboration. 

The "OneThing That Made Me Smile" sounds simple, but it’s an effective way to kick off your team meetings with positive vibes. 

How to play OneThing:

1. Begin by asking your team: "What was the one thing that made you smile last week?"

2. Go around your virtual room, inviting everyone to share their bright moment or experience. This could be an event, a gesture, a personal achievement, or anything positive from their past week. Please be mindful that not everyone may want to contribute or that some people have had tough weeks prior, and invite only, not tell people to share.

3. React and comment warmly on each others' stories.

3. Icebreaker Games & Team Building Activities

Sometimes, you want to do more than ask questions and hear people's replies on the fly. That's when icebreaker games come into play. 

icebreaker games have the same purpose as icebreaker questions: to connect coworkers as people beyond the work. 

But they have a bit more production value.

icebreaker 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 icebreaker Games we love:

#10. Photo Collage

11 Ice Breakers for Virtual Meetings: Photo Collage
Find a free Photo Collage template here

A picture can contain many unforgettable moments. 

Sharing a personal photo and its story is a great way to bond with your team and learn more about each other's lives and memories.

The idea is that each team member uploads a memorable photo of themselves to a shared collage. 

This could be a childhood photo, wedding photo, vacation photo - anything that holds meaning for them.

Find a free Photo Collage template here.

How to play Photo Collage

1. Copy our collage template and share the link with your team.

2. Have everyone add their photo to the template before your meeting.

3. Run the activity and share the stories behind the photos.

4. After the meeting, share the collage to the Team’s channel/Slack/Email as a recap.

#11. Kudo Wall

11 Ice Breakers for Virtual Meetings: Kudo Wall
Find a free Kudo Wall template here

It's easy to overlook recognition when your team is in an intense period and grinding away at work. 

However, showing appreciation energizes individuals and fosters a culture of appreciation and recognition in the team.

If you sense that your hardworking crew needs more gratitude, consider a Kudo Wall for your next meeting. Each card symbolizes a thank-you note your team members can write to appreciate each other.

How to play Kudo Wall

1. Simply copy our Kudo Wall template and share the link with your team.

2. Ask everyone to think of someone recently done something they’re grateful for.

3. Then, run the activity and have everyone share their kudos.

4. After the meeting, share the Kudos Wall in your Teams or Slack channel or send it via email to keep the memories.

#12. Body Scan

11 Ice Breakers for Virtual Meetings: Body Scan
Find a free Body Scan template here

Picking up on the cues that signal how your teammates feel can be challenging. That's where the Body Scan comes in.

Body Scan offers a creative way for people to connect with their emotions and reflect on their physical sensations.

It reminds your team that they each have feelings that impact their work lives, and they owe it to each other to listen, understand, and support one another.

Add it to the beginning of your team meetings and establish a constructive and empathetic work atmosphere.

How to play Body Scan:

1. Copy our Body Scan template and share the link with your team.

2. Ask everyone to combine and make their body figures by combining colored body parts.

3. Then, run the activity and have everyone share.

4. After the meeting, share the Body Scan in your Teams or Slack channel or send it via email.

#13. Butter

Butter virtual engagement platform

Butter is one of the most interesting virtual meeting platforms. But unlike traditional video call tools, butter is tailored for engaging and interactive collaborative sessions.

With an extensive library of templates for icebreakers and games, it offers captivating templates to elevate your virtual meetings and keep your team enthusiastic, fun, and connected.

Our recommended icebreakers to take advantage of are Simon Says, Fun Fact, Stories, and Guess a Story. 

How to play on Butter:

1. Create your account on Butter.

2. Start the session by clicking on the template bar on the right side. 

3. Choose one among one hundred public template gallery.

4. Enjoy the game with your team!

#14. Monster Workshop on Miro

Monster Workshop on Miro

If your team is filled with creative individuals looking for a fun and interactive icebreaker game, look no further than "Monster Workshop" on Miro. 

This game is perfect for those who want to let their imagination run wild and collaborate effortlessly.

With on-the-page instructions and no need for prior preparation, your team can dive right into the excitement of creating their unique monsters using various monster parts.

How to play Monster Workshop

1. Duplicate the template and share the link with your team.

2. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes.

3. Instruct your team to add their name and name their monster in the designed areas.

4. Start making monsters, then move these monsters to the collaboration station.

5. Share your screen while you vote for the most creative one.

#15. Build-It (with art) Icebreaker on Miro

Build-It (with art) Icebreaker on Miro

Communication through emojis has become an integral part of modern digital interactions. 

Build your stories through emojis with a fun activity on Miro; this interactive game is designed to engage your team creatively and expressively.

Each member will select a question from a provided list and use emojis and shapes to answer it. 

From there, your team can learn more about how each other uses emojis and tell their stories through visual representations.

How to play Build-It

1. Duplicate the template and share the link with your team.

2. Set a timer.

3. Let your team members choose a question and answer by building a story with the emojis and shapes given.

4. Sharing time! Your team takes a turn to share their artwork. (The above is our team’s!)

Explore even more icebreaker activities and templates on Miro

Icebreaker tempate on Miro

#16. Skribbl

Skribbl icebreaker

Skribbl is an online multiplayer drawing and guessing game that brings your team together dynamically and engagingly. 

Whether in the same room or scattered across different locations, Skribbl allows everyone to participate and showcase their artistic talents.

Even if drawing isn't your forte, enjoy some laughs, friendly rivalry, and a fantastic opportunity for team bonding as you try to decipher each other's doodles.

How to play Skribbl

1. Choose your fun character and create a private room.

2. Set the number of players, drawing time, and number of rounds before sending the link over to your team.

3. Start drawing and guessing.

#17. Gartic Telephone

Your team can play a virtual version of the traditional telephone game with your team on Gartic Phone. 

Simply set it up and start drawing and describing scenes based on the given prompts.

There are many modes in the game, but the Basic Mode is the most simple and hilarious one. See the unpredictable twists and turns that unfold when the messages pass.

How to play Gartic Telephone

1. Go to https://garticphone.com/, enter your name, and click start.

2. Copy the invite link and send it to your team.

3. In the meantime, choose a mode and custom settings before the game starts.

4. When the game starts, everyone fills in the fun prompt.

5. Enjoy the drawing adventure; super-fun results are waiting ahead.

How to choose the right icebreaker games?

When it comes to connecting and playing games with your team, any game can be great. Just like icebreaker questions, choosing the right one can be challenging, but don't overthink it. Anything that lets people share about themselves during video conferencing is a win for both you and your team. 

To ensure that your icebreaker question works, you must consider the context of the meeting, who is attending, and what you've already tried. Try to build on what worked before. Here are some tips to help you choose the right icebreaker question:

1. Consider the group: Think about the age range, cultural backgrounds, and personalities of the group. Choose a question that is appropriate, relevant, and inclusive.

2. Consider the purpose: Think about the goal of the meeting. Are you trying to break the ice and get people to know each other? Or are you focusing on a specific topic or issue?

3. Consider familiarity: Think about how well the participants know each other. If they are strangers, choose an icebreaker game that is easy and non-threatening. If they know each other well, choose something that will challenge them to think more deeply or creatively.

4. Keep it simple: Choose an icebreaker game that is easy to understand and doesn't require a lot of explanation or setup.

5. Keep it fun: Choose a question that is light-hearted and enjoyable. The goal is to make people feel comfortable participating fully in the game.

This should lead you to just the right virtual icebreaker. 

Let me close with a picture of our team:

Our team always has fun no matter where we are...
Our team always has fun no matter where we are…
Tips for Facilitating Icebreakers in Virtual Meeting Platforms

Running any activity can be challenging. 

How do you capture people's attention? How do you keep them engaged throughout? How do you wrap up the session well? Below are a few tips for successfully running exercises and being a pro at meeting facilitation.

On the day of the icebreaker, properly introduce the activity and establish some ground rules. 

Sometimes, with the meeting starting in a few minutes, everyone might be preoccupied with their work or chatting. 

I found that in those situations, it's important to capture their attention without feeling awkward. 

You can achieve this by simply suggesting that instead of looking at emails and spreadsheets, the team takes a break and spends the next 10 minutes connecting with each other. 

Before starting the activity, it's essential to set some ground rules to ensure that the session is productive. You can remind everyone to respect each other's ideas and opinions, avoid interrupting or dominating the conversation, and adhere to the time limit. 

Additionally, it's important to encourage active listening, ask clarifying questions, and keep an open mind. Once the ground rules are established, you can dive into the session and enjoy the activity.

Setting the tone this way ensures that people know what to expect, providing clear instructions and encouraging participation.

Towards the end of the activity, you can recap and remind people that it was great. You can also summarize any specific learnings you may have gained from the session.

Conclusion

Virtual icebreakers are fun activities that can help virtual teams connect and communicate better. 

This is especially important since 2022 Microsoft research shows that 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 your virtual meeting 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.

A final note

As we work more distributed than ever, you may wonder about employee engagement and how to managing remote teams.

I suggest employing employee engagement strategies to keep your team working well together regardless of location. Practices employee engagement best practices and use employee engagement tools to excel. For the best results, consider working with employee engagement survey providers.

You can also deploy various employee engagement activities, like asking Would You Rather Questions, Icebreaker Questions, 5-Minute Team Building Activities, and Virtual Team Building Activities. (For big teams, split them with this Random Group Generator.)

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