10 Fun and Effective Virtual Icebreakers for Remote Teams

10 Fun and Effective Virtual Icebreakers for Remote Teams

When people think of icebreakers, the first thing that comes to mind is usually in-person activities designed to help attendees get to know each other better. However, virtual icebreakers can be just as effective – sometimes even more – when used in virtual meetings and team gatherings. This is because they help break the ice between participants, making it easier for them to communicate and collaborate effectively. In this article, we will discuss what virtual icebreakers are, how you can use icebreakers for virtual meetings, and how to build strong rapport using icebreakers for remote teams. We’ll also provide examples of virtual icebreakers you can try out yourself!

What Is a Virtual Icebreaker?

A virtual icebreaker is an activity or game that is played online to help participants get to know each other better. These activities can be used in virtual meetings, team gatherings, or any other type of online interaction where people are meeting for the first time or need to build a stronger rapport.

Virtual icebreakers typically last for about 15-20 minutes and can be played by anywhere from two to dozens of people.

Have you heard of the phrase “break the ice”? If so, then you’re already halfway to understanding virtual ice breakers. 

For example, the first meeting of a newly organized team takes place via a teleconferencing platform and starts with each member telling others their nicknames. The nickname-telling part is the virtual icebreaker.

Importance of Virtual Team Icebreakers

Do you know those popular apps like Zoom, which average about 300 million daily meeting participants? Of course, many business meetings and work-related communications would make up a significant percentage of that number.

There are many reasons why you might want to use virtual team icebreakers in your next meeting or team gathering. Here are just a few:

1. Fostering Team Rapport Online: 

One of the main benefits of virtual icebreakers is that they help build rapport between team members. When people feel like they know each other better, they are more likely to trust and cooperate with each other. This is especially important for virtual teams, who may not have the opportunity to interact in person very often.

2. Boosting Team Morale and Motivation: 

Icebreakers can also be used to boost team morale and motivation. If team members feel disengaged or disconnected, virtual icebreakers can help them feel more connected to each other and invested in the team’s success.

3. Making Team Meetings More Exciting: 

Let’s face it – sometimes team meetings can be a bit dull. Virtual icebreakers can help liven things up and make sessions more fun and engaging. This is especially important for virtual teams, who may not have the opportunity to meet in person very often.

4. Introducing New Members of the Team in a Jovial Way: 

If you have new members joining your team, virtual icebreakers can help them feel more comfortable and included. They can also help existing team members better understand the new members.

5. Tackling Communication Barriers Better: 

Virtual icebreakers can also help break down communication barriers between team members. For example, if team members are from different cultures or speak different languages, virtual icebreakers can help them connect with each other and build a better understanding.

Appropriate and Inappropriate Time for Virtual Icebreakers

Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits of virtual icebreakers, you might be wondering when is the best time to use them.

Ice breakers for virtual meetings can be used at the beginning of a teleconference, but there are some instances where they’re crucial. We’ll discuss them before describing inappropriate times for virtual ice breakers.

Here are a few guidelines to help you decide:

1. New Remote Team

The first meeting of a group of employees that started working/collaborating from home for the first time since they were recruited into the company. Imagine that all the participants lack experience in working/collaborating remotely. What they can do is make use of icebreakers for virtual team meetings in addition to making adjustments to their business processes.

2. New Team Member

If you have new members joining your team, virtual icebreakers can help them feel more comfortable and included. They can also help existing team members better understand the new members.

3. Mergers

Whether it’s a departmental or company merger, there can be significant communication barriers that workers may have to tackle before things can go smoothly. For example, imagine that the first online merger meeting involved managers and workers from two different countries. Icebreakers for virtual meetings will be needed in such a case, in addition to Intercultural communication skills.

4. Multi-cultural Team

Virtual icebreakers can help team members connect with each other and build a better understanding if they are from different cultures or speak different languages.

5. Building a Team

If team members feel disengaged or disconnected, virtual icebreakers can help them feel more connected to each other and invested in the team’s success.

On the other hand, there are also times when virtual icebreakers might not be appropriate. For example:

1. Depending on the situation

The thing is, virtual icebreakers might not be suitable for every remote meeting. You have to think about the situation regarding deadlines, workload, conflicts, crises, and so on. Sometimes, it’s just better to get to the point when a problematic situation or topic calls for it.

2. Meeting with Top Management

You could also avoid “breaking the ice” when a top-level manager or your boss is in the meeting. However, the superior manager may decide to organize an icebreaking session. Now that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

3. Team Engagement

Ice breakers might be seen as time-wasting, unnecessary, or patronizing by the rest of the team—so you have to be sure that it’s essential. Lastly, team members should be encouraged and not forced (in any way) to participate. This is to ensure that they’re giving the activity their all.

How to Design Online Icebreakers?

The following tips will help you design simple and exciting activities that will serve as a virtual icebreaker.

  1. The goal or purpose of the virtual icebreaker: Think about the goals and objectives you want to achieve with the game. For example: Is it about introducing a new member or boosting team spirit?
  2. Participants: Consider the factors that may hinder each person from participating well in the activity, such as communication barriers. Then, implement solutions after you’re done.
  3. Time: Timing is a significant factor to consider in time zones, workloads, deadlines, comfortable duration, frequency of the activity, etc.
  4. Technical know-how: Ensure those team members can use the online platform wherever they are and know how to use it. For example, consider those that may be camera-shy, in areas with poor connection, and so on.
  5. Activities: Team members should be given prior information about the game to be played if absolutely necessary. However, some actions would become less exciting if team members weren’t caught by surprise.

Watch this YouTube video to learn more about designing virtual icebreakers:

5 Ways to Customize Virtual Icebreakers

With that said, here are ten fun and effective virtual icebreakers that you can use to boost team morale and rapport.

10 Fun and Effective Virtual Icebreakers

Virtual icebreakers can be a fun way to get everyone in the team to know each other better and engage everyone in the meeting. Here are ten virtual icebreakers that you can use:

1. The Social Question

This helps teams to communicate better, get familiar with each other, and bond faster. Things can get lively during this fun activity.

It’s a straightforward game. Just ask each participant any interesting social question. For example:

  • What’s your favorite music genre and artist?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What is your favorite TV show?

2. Two Truths and a Lie

This straightforward, fun game helps team members know each other better than just the social question game. It also gives them a mental warm-up just before the main topic of the meeting.

Each participant should be asked to state three supposed “facts” about themselves, with one being a lie. Then, others will be asked to guess which statements are false. It’s as simple as that!

3. Three Words

This helps team members warm up for the main topic of the meeting in a fun way. The game won’t be related to the central issue in contrast to what’s obtainable in the one-word icebreaker game, which will be treated later. Instead, the leader can use it to explain the benefits of adapting to new developments quickly, decisively, and effectively.

This fast-paced game starts by asking participants to choose a topic they want to tell a story about. Participants will then be asked to contribute three words to the story’s progress. After that, everyone will take immediate turns whether or not the words make sense.

4. Take a Picture of Your Shoes

This idea originated from Lucid Meetings, an online meeting solutions company. It’s not as straightforward as the previously explained games, but it can be as exciting.

Each participant will take a picture of their shoes and upload it before the teleconference starts. It can also be done for audio meetings if everyone uses an image-sharing tool to see each other’s shoes. Then, the conference will begin with each participant describing their shoes and why they chose them.

5. The Time Machine

The time machine can be an entertaining activity depending on the questions that will be asked. What’s great about it is that the participants can be asked an unlimited number of questions based on time travel.

Each participant can start like this: “If you were able to travel through time, ‘when’ would you go to?” Then, other questions related to the answer given will follow. Examples are presented below.

  • Why that time?
  • Would you return to the present?
  • What would you do if you met yourself during that time?
  • Who else would be with you in your time machine?
  • What kind of clothes would you wear during that era?

6. Guess the Acronym

This is a fun way to help team members know each other better and engage everyone in the meeting.

The game is simple. The leader will choose an acronym and ask everyone to guess what it stands for. For example, the leader can choose “POTUS,” and everyone will have to assume that it stands for “President of the United States.”

The goal is for everyone to guess the correct meaning of the acronym. The first person to do so will be the winner, who can choose the following acronym.

7. Rank Your Favorites

The leader will choose a topic, and then everyone will have to rank their favorites from that topic. For example, the leader can choose “pizza toppings,” and everyone will have to rank their favorite pizza toppings from most to least favorite.

After everyone has ranked their favorites, the leader can reveal the results and see if anyone’s favorites align. This is a great way to start a conversation and get to know your team members better.

8. One-Word Icebreaker

This game is similar to the three words games, but it’s much more straightforward. The leader will choose a topic, and then everyone will have to contribute one word to that topic. For example, the leader can choose “Summertime,” and everyone will have to contribute one word that they associate with summertime.

After everyone has contributed their word, the leader can reveal the results and see if anyone’s words align. This is a great way to start a conversation and get to know your team members better.

9. Same and Different

In this game, each participant will share two things about themselves, one that’s the same as everyone else and one that’s different. For example, everyone might share that they’re human and that they like pizza. But then someone might say that their difference is that they can eat an entire pizza by themselves.

This game is a great way to get people laughing and thinking creatively.

10. Recognize every effort and success of the team members

This is not a game, but it is the action of the team leader. You need to recognize every single effort of all of your team members. If you cover those for everyone in the meeting, they will feel valued and recognized. Your team will feel good about themselves and stay connected with each other.

It can be their activities, extra efforts, willingness to overcome challenges, innovative ideas, motivating others, following processes, abiding by ethics, success stories, etc.

You need a positive mindset to identify small things and describe those adequately.

FAQ

What Are Some Fun Questions to Ask?

The following are fun questions that can serve as ice breakers online:
– What weird things do you do regularly?
– What’s your quirky talent?
– What does your home workspace look like?
– What superpower would you like to have?

What are the Virtual Icebreaker Games?

The following are five virtual icebreaker games you can play with your fellow workers during a remote meeting for the sake of improving communication and bonding:
– Among Us!
– Drawful 2
– Fact Bucket
– Killer Queen
– Weavr

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Conclusion

The saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Therefore, it’s a good idea to use icebreakers for remote teams whenever appropriate. That is having fun and allowing humor.

Virtual icebreakers are a fun and easy way to help team members get to know each other better. They can be used in virtual meetings or remote teams, and they can help break the ice and promote rapport.

In this article, we’ve shared ten virtual icebreakers that you can use to boost team morale and rapport. Do you have any other icebreakers that you like to use? Share them in the comments below!