Working remotely can be a lonely business. But there is a sure-fire way to break down barriers during your online meetings – virtual icebreakers.
These little activities can help you lighten the mood and positively engage your colleagues throughout your meetings calls.
Here’s the list of our 15 favorite virtual icebreakers.
Scroll through them all or jump to the one that sounds like the best fit for you:
- Where are you joining us from?
- Show me your workspace
- Family portrait
- One-word recap
- Virtual body language
- Quiz me weekly
- Mood barometer
- Let’s get physical
- Give kudos
- Highlights sharing
- Coffee time
- Two truths & one lie
- Home fashion police
- Put the record on
- Doodle away
Or would you rather watch a video? Check out the newest vlog from our remote series where you’ll find 5 easy icebreaker tips!
1. 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 a call, open a word cloud 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 groups or webinars – the more locations, the better the word cloud looks.
As a bonus, this activity will also help you to fill in the gap before all colleagues join the call.
2. Show me your workspace
One of the challenges of remote work is turning your home into a temporary office space. As your colleagues are joining the call, ask them to do a little virtual tour of their work station.
Sharing a bit of your home with others is a nice way for your team to bond and helps start the meeting on a positive note. We recommend this icebreaker for smaller team meetings.
3. Family portrait
Another way to have fun during a virtual meeting is to take a screenshot of everyone on a video chat. To spice things up, take a different one each time — make funny faces, bring in your pets, do a crazy gesture, you name it.
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.
On top of all that, group photos also make nice content for your social media, internal newsletters, or Slack channels.
4. One-word recap
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?”
Or, you can even try something different like: “If you could describe last week/month in color, what color would it be?”
This icebreaker will help you take a pulse check of the overall atmosphere in the team and detect possible downturns.
5. 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.
6. Quiz me weekly
What better way to break the ice at the beginning of your team meeting than with a fun quiz? A friendly competition will energize your team and add a social element to your virtual meeting.
For recurring meetings, you can turn it into regular activity and run a quick quiz (1-3 questions will do) at the start of every meeting. Your colleagues will have something to look forward to every time the meeting is approaching.
Read also: 4 Quizzes to Energize Your Virtual Meetings
7. Mood barometer
A simple rating poll can help you check the pulse of your team and monitor their mental health. For example, gauge your team’s general feeling by asking them something like: “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 there’s definitely room for improvement there. Does anyone want to share their thoughts?”
8. Let’s get physical
Let’s face it – working from home is a sedentary business so a small physical break can be priceless.
Incentivize one of your more athletic colleagues to lead a 5-minute stretch exercise through video chat or simply encourage your colleagues to stand up from their desks and jump a couple of times.
Some physical activity will fire up your teammates and clear their heads for a little while.
9. Give kudos
We all need a little morale-booster now and then, especially when working in isolation. Give kudos to the heroes in your team and celebrate the ones who went the extra mile.
Kick your meeting off by running a word cloud poll with a question “Who was your silent hero this month?”
Or, you can make it even more personal with “If you could hug one person from the team, who would it be?”
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”.
10. Highlights sharing
Here’s another way to lift people’s spirits. Crowdsource your colleagues’ personal or professional highlights of the last week or month using Slido Ideas. Before your meeting takes place, send your colleagues a link to your Slido event where they can post their top moments.
Then, as you kick off the meeting, display the highlights on the screen and give a shout out to each one. It’s sometimes good to remind people of all the remarkable work that they’ve done. For example, in our Slido marketing team, we share highlights every week as part of our weekly marketing meeting.
11. 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.
You can also take Fika to an online environment. Before your meeting, or in between meetings, gather on a video chat with your teammates for an informal catch-up.
Socializing, even if it’s only through a screen, will help those working from home feel less isolated. For example, our Slido marketing team meets online for a coffee break every day at 2 PM.
12. 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 particular colleague is a lie.
You can run this poll at the start of each meeting – always introducing a different colleague. 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 facts.
13. Home fashion police
Here’s another fun live poll to help you lighten the mood and loosen people up. Check up on your teammates’ work-from-home attire.
It’s popular folklore that people love wearing PJs all day long during home offices. 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 and giggles 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.
14. Put the record on
Help your team loosen up a little with some music. Have someone from your team be the meeting DJ and play some funky music as your colleagues join the call.
If you’re using Zoom like we do, just play the music on your computer, click ‘Share’ and tick the checkbox ‘Share computer sound’.
You’ll enjoy some time together and break the stereotype of everyday work and meetings. The more expressive ones can even pull off some dance moves!
15. Doodle away
Many say that doodling during the meeting helps people to be more attentive and creative. At the beginning of your meeting, ask your teammates to grab a pen and a piece of paper and doodle away.
When the meeting is coming to an end, have your teammates share their artwork with the rest of the colleagues by showing their papers into the camera.
During more formal remote meetings, you can ask your team to take notes during the meeting and then, in the end, share what they jotted down.
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.