Virtual icebreakers are small online team-building activities that help remote teams to connect on a personal level and enjoy some fun social time together.
A good icebreaker at the start of your meeting will help you set the mood, and loosen people up. You can also use various icebreaker activities and virtual games for team-building, bonding, and getting to know each other better.
For your inspiration, we’ve collected these 30 virtual icebreakers and team-building activities for you. All tried, tested, and enjoyed by our team – even the introverts. Pick your favorite ones.
Would you rather watch a video? Check out the vlog from our remote series where you’ll find 5 easy virtual icebreakers!
1. Mood barometer: How are you feeling today?
Working remotely can be a lonely business. Start on a personal note 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?” Or, “What’s your energy level 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 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 with the question: “Where are you joining 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 is one of the best virtual icebreakers for larger meetings or virtual events – the more locations, the better the word cloud will look.
Read also: 33 Word Cloud Examples For Your Meetings
3. Draw your mood
Instead of verbally asking your colleagues how they are at the start of your meeting (which often results in a half-baked ‘fine’, or ‘okay’ here and there), ask them to draw how they are. It’s much more fun and you’ll spark creativity among your colleagues.
During our recent Brand team meeting, 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!
4. 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 – your choice.
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.
5. Home scavenger hunt
Get your colleagues out of their chairs. This icebreaker is fun and you’ll all get a chance to move around a little. Give your teammates 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”.
You can even take it a little further and play a full-scale virtual scavenger hunt. We recently played it in our Brand team and it was so much fun. Our colleague, Nadia, 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
And on a hunt we went.
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!
6. In one word, 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 is one of the icebreakers that will help you take a pulse check of the overall atmosphere in the team and detecting possible downturns – especially handy in a virtual setup.
Or, you can even try something different like: “If you were to describe our company in one word, what would it be?”
Need more inspiration for icebreaker poll questions? Find it here.
7. 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. Favorite movie scenes, 80’s disco, memes, dream vacation places – the possibilities are endless.
Seeing each other’s 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!
You can also let your colleagues vote for the best background through a Slido poll.
8. Team trivia quiz
Using virtual icebreakers during your meetings also helps you get to know your colleagues better.
Try a fun quiz with questions about your team. Collect interesting facts about each team member, 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. Who’s your unsung hero?
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 putting in is a wonderful way to start a meeting. Expect lots of hearty “awws”.
Combine the word cloud with an open text poll, so that people can also leave a heart-warming message for their nominated silent hero.
10. Highlight of the month
Here’s another way to lift people’s spirits. Crowdsource your colleagues’ personal or professional highlights from the last week or month.
Since we’re remote and can’t meet in the office to share these things in person, there are plenty of things we miss out on. With this icebreaker, you can see what other people have been up to, and have experienced, and you can celebrate some of your top moments.
As you kick off your meeting, ask your teammates to post their highlights 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.
11. Failure of the month
Sharing is caring – and that should apply for both the good and the bad. Besides highlights, also share some of the failures of the last month.
It’s important to also give our attention to things that didn’t go so well; things that we can learn from, and move forward together. 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.
12. Two truths & one lie
This fun game is great for introducing new colleagues or getting to know each other better. Collect three statements about each of your colleagues – two of them should be true facts and one should be a lie. Tell your colleagues to provide a lie that’s not so obvious so as to make it harder for others to guess.
PS: Don’t forget to ask the person who the poll is about to share at least one story behind the statements.
13. Team photo
A list of virtual icebreakers wouldn’t be complete without a group photo! This one’s as much fun through a video chat as much as it is in real life. And you can repeat it time and time again by taking a different picture each time — make funny faces, bring in your pets, do a crazy gesture, be creative.
Take inspiration from our Customer Care Team!
These photos also make nice content for your social media, internal newsletters, or Slack channels!
14. Guess whose desk?
Get to know your colleagues a little better, and take a sneak-peek into their home work stations. This icebreaker is a mixture of ‘Guess who?’ and a house tour.
Collect pictures from your colleagues of their desks at home and add them into Slido multiple choice polls with a question: “Can you guess whose desk this is?” and give several options.
Then, once at a meeting, let your colleagues guess away!
15. Visual brainstorming
Good productive idea exchanges make for great virtual icebreakers too. Instead of just shouting ideas at each other, try visual brainstorming.
Take advantage of one of the visual collaboration tools such as Mural. We tried it recently during our Brand team meeting and it was an hour well spent – productive, creative, and fun.
We set up a virtual whiteboard, and each of us was supposed to write our ideas on little stickers that we then posted on the board. It nicely simulated a real-life brainstorming session.
16. Meet up in a virtual bar
Miss going out for an after-work beer with your colleagues? If remote work or Covid restrictions don’t allow you to enjoy the real thing, why don’t you go for a virtual alternative?
In our Brand team, we recently tried Kumospace – an immersive video chat that allows you to ‘meet’ your colleagues in a virtual bar (or other space), move around, or create smaller chat groups.
Oh, and don’t forget to get a drink. The app will even remind you when it’s time for a refill!
There are other apps that provide immersive team experiences, for example, Topia. With this one, you can even design your own virtual world. It’s good to have a change of scenery, isn’t it?
17. Never Have I Ever
While you’re all hanging out together in this virtual bar (see point above), why don’t you play a game? If you’re familiar with Never Have I Ever, you surely know how much fun it is – especially with more juicy questions. It’s simple: Each of you will hold out your hand so everyone can see your fingers.
One of you will read questions such as: “Never have I ever gone skinny dipping.” Whenever one of you has done it, he or she will put one finger down.
This icebreaker activity is awesome for getting to know your colleagues better and have a good laugh together while sharing funny stories behind each finger down!
If you need inspiration for Never Have I Ever questions, find 250 of them here.
18. Donut friends
When was the last time you randomly bumped into someone in a hallway in your office and shared a good chat with them? Or, had a deep conversation about life, the universe, and everything with a bunch of colleagues in a kitchenette or by the watercooler? Before we can enjoy this again, try Donut.
Donut is an app for Slack that randomly pairs two or three colleagues together for a scheduled video call. You can make use of that time however you like: Have a virtual coffee, a peer learning session, or a chat about a book that you recently read.
The best thing is that it gets you together with teammates with whom you wouldn’t normally talk or interact on a daily basis. A nice way to foster new friendships in the workplace, isn’t it?
19. Online escape room
Need a full-scale team-building activity? Try virtual escape room. If you’ve ever experienced the real thing, you surely know that it’s as much fun as it is nerve-wracking! It involves dealing with various challenges, finding codes, and completing puzzles in order to “get out of the room”.
It’s an ultimate team bonding experience – if your teammates love a good game, they’re going to be fans. There are plenty of escape room platforms out there, for example, Escape Live. You can choose from various different session types or themes.
20. Virtual wine tasting
Even if you’re remote, you don’t have to give up the good old wine or beer tasting sessions. Sure, it’s a bit harder to pull off in a virtual setting, but not impossible. Just agree on a brand or type – or buy a different wine each, so you can tell each other about the subtle tones you’re getting!
Our People team has recently done a wine tasting Zoom call and it was a great team bonding experience.
It lets you enjoy some informal time with your colleagues, which, amid all the meetings is a nice change. Plus, you get to indulge in some fine beverages, what a treat!
21. Pair & Share
This is a great icebreaker that allows for more intimate conversations among your teammates. If you’re familiar with breakout rooms, you’ll appreciate this one.
Give your colleagues a thought-provoking question to ponder, then pair them randomly using breakout rooms (check whether your video conferencing tool allows for it).
Next, allow all groups a couple of minutes to discuss the topic before coming back to the main room to share what each pair talked about.
This is a great alternative to the ‘turn to your neighbor’ kind of exercise – it’s interactive, and allows for more in-depth discussion between people. Introverts will appreciate this, as it feels more comfortable to share something in a pair, compared to the whole team.
22. Online games
Online team-building games are fun and social – they encourage interaction among coworkers and help bring back the camaraderie of a physical office.
The waters of the internet are full of options, but to inspire you, we recently discovered Bored – a suite of Slack games for remote teams. You simply add the tool to your company Slack and play fun games with your colleagues right in the Slack channel.
Apart from the ever-popular game of trivia, Bored has games in which you roast your colleagues, or play a game of accusations and deception. Recently, they launched ‘Icebreakers’ to help teammates get to know each other better by answering questions that are unconventional and fun.
23. 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!
24. 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.
25. Name that sound
Looking for a more sophisticated guessing game? How about guessing the sounds? This is one of the most challenging virtual icebreakers, but it’s ultimately very satisfying!
It’s simple. You turn your cameras off, leaving only audio on, and then you make some sort of a sound close to the mic so that your colleagues are able to hear it, and guess where it comes from.
Here are the instructions:
26. Random question of the week
Here’s another one from the ‘Get to know your colleagues better’ virtual icebreakers. 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’ve since learned so many cool new things about one another!
If you need help in finding the right question, here’s a random question generator.
27. 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 had 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!
28. Count to 20
Here’s another lovely activity that helps you create some focus, as well as alignment within your team.
The idea behind this icebreaker is to count to twenty out loud, one person at a time. Anyone can start counting and a different person always has to follow – but there’s a catch. If two or more people say the same number out loud at the same time, you have to start all over again.
The idea here is to get aligned, watch your colleagues closely and look out for subtle hints like inhales or little movements that reveal whether someone is about to speak.
For this icebreaker, it’s essential that everyone has their cameras and their audio on. Note: This is one of the more difficult virtual icebreakers but you will all feel very accomplished once you get to twenty.
29. Virtual body language
Virtual icebreakers don’t always have to be elaborate team activities. Sometimes, a simple thing such as a gesture or a symbol is enough to break the ice.
Especially on a video call, with the majority of the people having their microphones muted, spontaneous communication between people comes hard.
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.
30. 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.
31. 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’, which 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.
We hope you’ll try one of these virtual icebreakers at your next online meeting. Let Slido help you connect with your teammates, wherever they are.