Virtual icebreakers are small online team-building activities that help you – a meeting leader – to connect with your remote team on a personal level during your online meetings.
With a good icebreaker, you can set the mood for the meeting, give your online participants a chance to speak, and make them more comfortable sharing and interacting throughout.
For your inspiration, here are 20 ideas for virtual icebreakers that worked for us and were fun to participate in – even for the introverts!
- Mood barometer
- Where are you joining us from?
- Zoom background challenge
- Home treasure hunt
- Doodle away
- How would you describe…?
- Virtual body language
- Team trivia quiz
- Play around with emoji reactions
- Give kudos to your heroes
- Random question
- Highlight of the month
- Screw-up of the month
- Coffee time
- Two truths & one lie
- Home fashion police
- Weekend photo contest
- Family portrait
- Group storytelling
- What’s the last photo that you took?
Or would you rather watch a video? Check out the vlog from our remote series where you’ll find 5 easy icebreaker tips!
1. Mood barometer
Remote work can be a lonely business. Show your colleagues that you care and ask your team how they are.
Since not everyone may be comfortable with sharing this verbally, ask your team members via a poll. This way, you can be sure that everybody will participate and that their answers will be honest.
For example, you can try a rating poll such as this one: “On a scale of 1-7, how are you feeling today?”
You can then use the results as a discussion starter and ask your colleagues something like: “I can see that not everyone is feeling at their best. Does anyone want to share their thoughts?”
2. Where are you joining us from?
If your teammates are scattered around the world, kick off your meeting by sending a virtual hi to each one of them.
At the beginning of your Zoom call, run a word cloud poll on Slido with a question “Where are you joining us from?”
As your colleagues post their locations, give them a special shout-out. By the end, the word cloud will create a nice collage of all the different places.
This virtual icebreaker is ideal for larger meetings or virtual events – the more locations, the better the word cloud will look.
3. Zoom background challenge
Share some laughs with your teammates on Zoom. Before your next all-hands or town hall meeting, set a theme and ask your colleagues to pick a virtual background image that, for them, represents it best.
Get creative, there are infinite possibilities: Favorite movie scenes, 80’s disco, memes, dream vacation places, you name it.
Seeing each others’ backgrounds will break the ice and give you something to talk about during the first minutes of the call.
But Zoom virtual backgrounds do more than just entertain. They’re also great for hiding a messy kitchen behind you, or a trespassing family member!
Tip: You can also let your colleagues vote for the best background through a Slido poll.
4. Home treasure hunt
Get your colleagues out of their chairs for a bit – they’ll appreciate a little physical activity.
Give them a little task such as: “You have 25 seconds to fetch something yellow,” or “Get the weirdest thing in your apartment, then bring it back to show us”.
This activity is fun and can reveal some fun facts about your colleagues!
You can even take it a little further and get inspired by our colleague Nadia who recently prepared for us a full-scale virtual scavenger hunt. She gave us 5 minutes to fulfill 20 tasks such as:
- Take a picture of a view from your window and post it to Slack
- Find something smaller than your fingernail
- Bring the softest thing you own
- Change your Zoom background to your favorite movie set
- Bring an item that’s older than you are
When the time was up, we got back together on Zoom and shared funny stories behind the objects that we brought. We shared some good laughs together!
5. Doodle away
Create some art together. Even if it’s just as pitiful as the one we produced during our recent Brand team meeting (see below).
Our colleague Sabine shared a Zoom Whiteboard with us and asked us to draw our current mood on it. So we channeled our inner Basquiat and came up with something that remotely resembles art. But it was so much fun, we swear!
Here’s how to set up Whiteboard in Zoom:
- Click ‘Share Screen’, choose ‘Whiteboard’ and click ‘Share’
- Tell each participant to click ‘Annotate‘ in the upper panel
- Pick any type of annotation tools you like – drawing, shapes, texts, you name it!
6. How would you describe…?
You can also use word clouds to pick up your team’s thoughts and feelings. Open your meeting with a question such as: “In one word, how would you describe the past week/month?”
This icebreaker is great for taking a pulse check of the overall atmosphere in the team and detecting possible downturns.
Or, you can even try something different like: “If you were to describe our company in one word, what would it be?”
Find more inspiration here: 33 Beautiful Word Cloud Ideas for Your Meetings or Events
7. Virtual body language
Having microphones muted during a video call is a good practice to avoid any disturbing background noises, but it often hinders spontaneous communication between people. Create a signal or multiple signals that will help people express themselves.
For example, instead of clapping when celebrating something, shake hands in the air. Raise a hand into the camera when asking for a time to speak. To express love or happiness, do a little heart symbol by putting both hands together or a simple thumbs-up.
8. Team trivia quiz
Icebreakers also give you a great opportunity to get to know your colleagues better.
Try a fun quiz with questions about your team. Collect interesting facts about each team member and then let other colleagues guess away. We’re sure you’ll dig out plenty of fun stuff!
We run this type of quiz when we introduce a new team member or as a holiday fun activity.
Read also: 4 Quizzes to Energize Your Virtual Meetings
9. Play around with emoji reactions
Sometimes, it’s hard to get a sense of how your team members are feeling – especially during larger meetings. Encourage your teammates to use emoji reactions during your Zoom calls.
For example, at the start of your meeting, ask your colleagues to click the emoji that best describes their current mood.
10. Give kudos to your heroes
This is not only an icebreaker but a morale booster as well. And we all need that now and then, especially when working in isolation.
Give kudos to the heroes in your team. Kick-off your meeting with a word cloud poll such as: “Who was your silent hero this month?”
Acknowledging people for the effort they’re doing is a wonderful way to start a meeting. Expect lots of hearty “aw-s” and “oh-s”.
Tip: combine the word cloud with an open text poll, so that people can also leave a heart-warming message for their nominated silent hero.
11. Random question
Here’s another one from the ‘Get to know your colleagues better’ series. Set up a new tradition and ask your team one random question each week or month.
- What’s the most useless thing you have in your home?
- What would your superpower be if you had one?
- What one thing should everybody stop doing right now?
- What’s one song or artist that you’re embarrassed to admit you like?
We actually started doing this as a weekly activity in our #random Slack channel. We since learned so many cool new things about one another!
Tip: If you need help in finding the right question, here’s a random question generator.
12. Highlight of the month
Here’s another way to lift people’s spirits. Crowdsource your colleagues’ personal or professional highlights of the last week or month.
As you kick off your meeting, ask your teammates to post their top moments in an open text poll. Then, display the highlights on the screen, and give a shout out to each one.
It’s good to remind people of all the remarkable work that they’ve done. For example, in our Slido marketing team, we share highlights as part of our monthly all-marketing meeting.
13. Screw-up of the month
Sharing is caring – and that should apply for both the good and the bad. Besides highlights, share also some of the failures of the last month. It makes for a great team-bonding experience.
Using an open text poll, encourage your team to share a thing that didn’t go that well for them in the last month. You can then open a discussion about all your anti-highlights and what you learned from them.
As a leader, don’t forget to contribute as well. Showing vulnerability is also a form of strength.
14. Coffee time
Have you heard of Fika? It’s a Swedish word often interpreted as “a coffee and cake break”.
For Swedes, however, it is much more than that. It’s about taking a break from everything for a while and enjoying quality time with friends or colleagues over a cup of coffee or tea.
Take Fika to an online environment. You can call it however you like – virtual watercooler talks, virtual happy hour, you name it.
But be sure to schedule an informal team catch-up from time to time just to chat with your teammates about something other than work. In remote times, it will help you feel less isolated.
15. Two truths & one lie
This fun game is great for introducing new colleagues or getting to know each other better. Collect two true facts and one false fact about a colleague and put it into a multiple choice poll.
Then, at the beginning of your meeting, ask your team to guess which one of the statements about this colleague is a lie. The more quirky the statement, the more fun this virtual icebreaker is.
PS: Don’t forget to ask the person who the poll is about to share at least one story behind the statements.
16. Home fashion police
Another fun live poll to help you lighten the mood. Check up on your teammates’ work-from-home attire.
It’s popular folklore that people love wearing PJs all day long during a home office. How does your team stand on this fashion statement?
Another similarly popular activity is “Take a picture of your shoes” that is equally hilarious.
Starting a meeting with some laughs will help your teammates feel more connected. For recurring meetings, come up with a different fun poll each time, here are some for your inspiration.
17. Weekend photo contest
A slow start after the weekend? Run a quick weekend photo contest to get your teammates talking. Tell them to share a cool photo from their weekend, for example in a Slack channel.
You can then put people’s names in a Slido multiple choice poll and have your colleagues vote for the best shot!
18. Family portrait
Taking a group photo of you (even through video chat) is another way to have some fun. Take a different one each time — make funny faces, bring in your pets, do a crazy gesture, be creative.
Take inspiration from our APAC team and their cute heart symbols as they sent their love to the rest of their team who couldn’t join them on the call.
These photos also make nice content for your social media, internal newsletters, or Slack channels!
19. Group storytelling
Put your improvisation skills to the test. This icebreaker is inspired by my colleague Sabine, who decided that since our team-building trip couldn’t happen this year, at least we’ll make up a cool story of how it went.
She created a slideshow of random travel pictures, started a story, and then called on one of our teammates to follow up on what she said based on what picture was currently up.
We took turns in telling crazy things we did during our imaginary trip and let me tell you, it was some ride!
20. What’s the last picture that you took?
Let us conclude this list with this tiny simple icebreaker: Ask your colleagues to go to their phones, and dig out the last photo that they took. Ask them to either post it to your Slack channel or simply show it to the camera. Then, ask them to share a story behind the picture (if it’s not a secret!).
It’s a sweet little activity to make people talk and get to know one another better.
We hope you’ll try one of these icebreakers at your next virtual meeting. Let Slido help you connect with your teammates, wherever they are.