Picture this: your virtual team meeting has just started, but you’re met with a grid of silent boxes. Everyone’s shuffling around in their pyjamas, unsure of who the Zoom algorithm is going to let speak, meaning that you’re doing all the talking and they’re doing all the apprehensive nodding.
Wow, what you’d give for a huge, digital pickaxe to smash this virtual ice into little frosty pixels. Fear not, what you need is an effective ice breaker tool. These 10 virtual meeting ice breakers are exactly what you need.
We’ll also take a look at when, why and how to use icebreakers for Zoom meetings to ensure that your crew can both be productive and have fun.
Let’s Break the Ice…
Top 10 Virtual Meeting Ice Breakers
So, here’s our list of the top Zoom icebreaker games that we’ve come across. These are suited differently to whether you’re introducing a team to each other or getting everyone reacquainted, but they’re all absolutely perfect for the online workplace.
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Ice Breaker #1: Spin the Wheel
As a facilitator for a virtual meeting, sometimes you just want an easy ice breaker that takes the responsibility for leading out of your hands. Well, with a bit of preparation, Spin the Wheel can be the perfect solution.
Create a bunch of activities or questions for your team and assign them to a spinning wheel. Simply spin the wheel for each team member and get them to perform the activity or answer the question that the wheel lands on.
If you’re pretty confident that you know your team, you can go with some reasonably hardcore dares. But we recommend some chill truths related to personal life and work that all of your team are comfortable with.
Doing it properly creates engagement through suspense and a fun environment through the activities you create.
How to make it
As is the theme of this list of virtual meeting ice breakers, you might have already guessed that there’s free software for this.
AhaSlides lets you create up to 10,000 entries on a colourful spinning wheel. Think of that enormous wheel on Wheel of Fortune, but one with more options that don’t take a decade to finish a spin.
Start by filling in the entries of the wheel with your activities or questions (or even get participants to write their names in). Then, when it’s meeting time, share your screen on Zoom, call on one of your team members and spin the wheel for them.
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Ice Breaker #2: Mood GIFs
This is a quick, fun and visual activity to start with. Give your participants a selection of funny images or GIFs and get them to vote on which one most accurately describes what they’re feeling right now.
Once they’ve decided if they’re feeling more like Arnold Schwarzenegger sipping tea or a collapsed pavlova, they can see the results of their voting in a chart.
This helps to relax your team and eradicate some of the serious, stifling nature of the meeting. Not only that, but it gives you, the facilitator, a chance to gauge the general engagement levels before the juicy brain work starts.
How to make it
You can easily make this kind of Zoom meeting ice breaker via the image choice slide-type on AhaSlides. Simply fill out 3 – 10 image options, either by uploading them from your computer or choosing from the integrated image and GIF libraries. In the settings, untick the box labelled ‘this question has the correct answer(s)’ and you’re good to go.
Ice Breaker #3: Hello, From…
Another simple one here. Hello, from…. Let everyone have their say about their hometown or where they’re living right now.
Doing this gives everyone a bit of background knowledge about their co-workers and gives them a chance to connect through common geography (“you’re from Glasgow? I was recently mugged there!”). It’s great for injecting a sense of instant togetherness into your meeting.
How to make it
On AhaSlides, you can choose a word cloud slide type for this ice breaker. After you propose the question, participants will put forward their answers on their devices. The size of the answer shown in the word cloud depends on how many people wrote that answer, giving your team a better sense of where everyone’s coming from.
Ice Breaker #4: Paying Attention?
There’s a great way to inject a bit of humour and get some useful information from your participants – asking what they’re going to do to engage in the meeting.
This question is open-ended, so it gives participants a chance to write whatever they want. Answers can be funny, practical or just plain weird, but they all allow new co-workers to get to know each other better.
If freshman nerves are still running high at your company, you can opt to make this question anonymous. That means that your team have free range on writing whatever they want, without the fear of judgement for their input.
How to make it
This one’s a job for the open-ended slide type. With this, you can pose the question, then choose whether or not to have participants reveal their names and choose an avatar. Select to hide the answers until they’re all in, then choose to reveal them in one large grid or one-by-one.
There’s also the option of setting a time limit on this one and just asking for as many answers as your team can think of within 1 minute.
💡 You can find many of these activities in the AhaSlides template library. Click below to host each of these from your laptop while your audience responds with their phones!
Ice Breaker #5: Share an Embarrassing Story
Now here’s one you’ll definitely want to make anonymous!
Sharing an embarrassing story is a hilarious approach to removing the rigidity of your meeting. Not only that, but co-workers who have just shared something embarrassing with the group are more likely to open up and give out their best ideas later in the session. One study found that this icebreaker activity for Zoom meetings can generate 26% more and better ideas.
In an in-person setting, this activity can be painfully awkward if no one steps up or no one laughs at the end of the story. Stick it into anonymous software, however, and all boundaries go out the window.
How to make it
Another one for the open-ended slide here. Just ask the question in the title, remove the ‘name’ field for participants, hide the results, and reveal them one-by-one.
These slides have an answer maximum of 500 characters, so you can be sure that the activity won’t run on forever because Janice from marketing has lived a life of regret.
Ice Breaker #6: Desert Island Inventory
We’ve all wondered what would happen if we’d get stranded on a desert island. Personally, if I could go 3 minutes without searching for a volleyball to paint a face on, I’d basically consider myself Bear Grylls.
In this one, you can ask each member of the team what they would take to a desert island. Afterwards, everyone anonymously votes for their favourite answer.
Answers usually range from genuinely practical to entirely ludicrous, but all of them show brains igniting before the main event of your meeting kicks off.
How to make it
Create a brainstorm slide with your question at the top. When you’re presenting, you take the slide through 3 stages:
- Submission – Everyone submits one (or multiple if you wish) answers to your question.
- Voting – Everyone votes for a handful of answers they like.
- Result – You reveal the one with the most votes!
Ice Breaker #7: Pop Quiz!
How about a quick bit of trivia to get those neurons firing before your meeting? A live quiz is possibly the best way to get all of your participants engaged and laughing in a way that the 40th Zoom meeting this month simply can’t on its own.
Not only that, but it’s a great leveller for your participants. The quiet mouse and the loudmouth both have equal say in a quiz, and may even be working together on the same team.
How to make it
We’ve seen some truly brilliant Zoom quizzes come out of AhaSlides.
Choose from any of the 4 types of quiz slides (pick an answer, pick an image, type answer, match pairs) to create any type of quiz for a team with diverse interests. An image quiz may be great for geography lovers, while a sound quiz would definitely appeal to music nuts.
Ice Breaker #8: You Nailed It!
If you prefer to step away from competition and opt for something altogether more wholesome, try You Nailed It!
This is a simple activity in which your team gives praise to a team member who has been crushing it recently. They don’t have to get into the specifics of what that person has been doing so well, they just have to mention them by name.
This can be a huge boost of confidence for those mentioned team members. Also, it gives them an elevated appreciation for the team that recognises their good work.
How to make it?
When you’re after quick-fire ice breakers for a virtual meeting, a word cloud slide is the way to go. Simply ask the question and hide the answers to stop people from jumping on the bandwagon. Once the answers are in, a few team members’ names will stand out amongst the crowd on the results page.
If you want to be more inclusive of the team’s efforts, you can up the number of answers that each member gives. Upping the requirement to 5 answer entries means that members can mention who’s nailed it from each department of the company.
Ice Breaker #9: Pitch a Movie
Everyone’s got some weird movie idea that they’ve held onto in case they match with film exec on Tinder. Everyone, right?
Well, if not, Pitch a Movie is their chance to come up with one and try and secure funding for it.
This activity gives each of your team members 5 minutes to come up with an outlandish movie idea. When called upon, they’ll pitch their ideas one-by-one to the group, who afterwards will vote on which one deserves funding.
Pitch a Movie gives total creative freedom to your team and confidence in presenting ideas, which can be invaluable for the meeting that follows.
How to make it?
As your team are rattling off their wild film ideas, you can fill in a multiple-choice slide with their film titles as the options.
Choose to present the voting results as a percentage of total answers in a bar, doughnut or pie chart format. Make sure to hide the results and limit participants to one choice only.
Ice Breaker #10: Grill the Gaffer
If you’re staring at this title perplexed, allow us to elaborate:
- Grill: To question someone intensely.
- Gaffer: The boss.
In the end, the title is about as simple as the activity. It’s similar to a reverse version of sharing an embarrassing story, but with more self-inflicted scrutiny.
Essentially you, as the facilitator, are in the hot seat for this one. Your team can ask you anything they want, either anonymously or not, and you have to answer some uncomfortable truths.
This is one of the best levellers in ice breakers. You may not fully realise, as the facilitator or boss, how nervous your team is about answering your questions. Grill the Gaffer gives them the control, gives them creative freedom and helps them to see you as a human with whom they can talk.
How to make it?
AhaSlides’ Q&A slide is perfect for this one. Just encourage your team to type in any question they want before you answer them over the video call.
Questions can be submitted by anyone in the audience and there’s no limit to how many they can ask. You can also turn on the ‘anonymous questions’ feature to allow your team full creativity and freedom.
Why Use Ice Breakers For Virtual Meetings?
There was once a time when in-person ice breakers were simply deemed ‘a fun way to start a meeting’. They’d typically last about 2 minutes before the meeting was ushered onto 58 minutes of cold, hard business.
Warm-up activities such as these have taken on far more prominence as research continues to come out about their benefits. And when meetings moved online in 2020, the importance of zoom ice breakers became even clearer.
Let’s take a look at a few…
5 Benefits of Virtual Ice Breakers
- Better engagement – The most well-known benefit of any ice breaker tool is to help your participants relax before the real meat of the session begins. Encouraging everyone to participate at the start of the meeting sets a precedent for the rest of it. This is crucial in a virtual meeting where it’s super easy to tune out.
- Better idea sharing – Not only are your participants more engaged, but they’re more likely to give their best ideas. A big reason why your employees aren’t sharing their best ideas during in-person meetings is that they’re wary of judgement. Online software that allows participant anonymity and that works in conjunction with Zoom can coax the best out of everyone
- Levelling the playing field – Ice breakers in Zoom meetings give everyone a say. They help to break down the boundaries between different job titles, or in today’s global environment, different cultures. They allow even your quietest participant (the one with his camera off and his microphone muted) to put forward great ideas that will spur engagement for the rest of the meeting.
- Encouraging teamwork from afar – There’s nothing better to stimulate your disconnected team online than a Zoom meeting ice breaker. You can do this through team-based quizzes, activities, ice breaker presentations, or open-ended questions, all of which get your staff back to working together.
- Giving you a better idea of your team – Some people are more adapted to working from home than others – that’s a fact. Zoom ice breaker questions for work give you a chance to gauge the mood in the room and tailor the rest of the meeting accordingly.
When to Use Ice Breakers For Virtual Meetings
There are a few scenarios in which virtual meeting ice breakers can reap some of the benefits we just mentioned.
- At the start of every meeting – The activities of the meeting’s first 5 minutes are just too beneficial not to have every single time your team gets together online.
- With a new team – If your team are all going to be working together for a while, you need to smash that ice as quickly and effectively as possible.
- After a company merger – A steady supply of ice breakers throughout your online get-togethers helps to remove suspicion about ‘the other team’ and get everyone on the same page.
- As a closer – Having a fun ice breaker at the end of a meeting cuts through the business-heavy atmosphere of the previous 55 minutes and gives your staff a reason to sign off feeling positive.