Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are working from home. While videoconferencing over Zoom and other online meeting applications gives teams a better way to connect than conference calls, it still lacks much of the spontaneity of in-person meetings, where team members can chat before and after, and learn more about one another on a personal level.
To inject a little more of that personal vibe into online meetings, we’ve put together a list of virtual icebreaker ideas courtesy of Henry O’Loughlin, director of operations for Nectafy, a fully remote growth content company, and founder of Buildremote, a website that helps companies build remote teams and operations.
Having conducted weekly online meetings for the past four years, O’Loughlin has tried (nearly) every icebreaker in the book; below are the ones that have been the most successful.
Virtual icebreaker ideas for online meetings
- Introductions. This is a standalone icebreaker you can use with new teams or new workers joining teams. Team members take turns introducing themselves and sharing information about their role on the team, their background, and some personal details.
- Host a speaker. Inviting a guest speaker — someone outside your usual group — can spur discussion, either with the full group or in small groups through private Zoom rooms or via Slack messaging.
- Online quizzes. Take advantage of JotForm’s quiz templates to create your own quizzes, or you can look for quizzes online. Quiz ideas are virtually limitless — you can ask questions related to history or geography or your company’s story, or you can opt for a more lighthearted topic, such as how many holiday songs each person or team can name. The person or team that can name the most songs or get the most answers correct wins.
- Browser tab window game. Have each person in the meeting take a screenshot of their open browser tabs and ask team members to guess which team member submitted each screenshot.
- Photo matching game. Choose a theme — home, yard, neighborhood, a favorite food, a pet, handwriting, or anything else — and ask each attendee to submit a photo of it prior to the meeting. During the meeting, team members try to match each photo to the person who submitted it.
- Virtual office tours. Have each team member use their webcam to do a virtual tour of their workspace. (You might want to give team members a heads-up before the meeting for this activity so they can tidy up their work area if needed!)
- Google search history matching game. Each team member takes a screenshot of their search history, and the team tries to match the search history with the member who submitted it. (This is another idea where a heads-up to team members will be welcome — so they can delete searches they’d prefer not to share before capturing a screenshot.)
- Host a virtual rock, paper, scissors tournament. No further explanation needed.
- Host an online trivia tournament. Team members can submit their answers in the chat window.
- Ask offbeat questions to spur discussion. These can help team members learn a little more about one another. There are an infinite number of questions you can ask and plenty of sites like this one to help you out. Here are some examples:
- Would you rather have a rewind button, a fast forward button, or a pause button on your life?
- What failure have you learned the most from?
- If you could instantly become an expert in something, what would it be?
- What do you look for in a friend?
- If you could be immortal, at what age would you choose to stop aging and why?
- If you won the lottery tomorrow, how would your life change?
These virtual icebreaker ideas are just the tip of the iceberg; you’ll probably be able to come up with plenty of other ideas on your own. Virtual icebreakers can bring some camaraderie to your online meetings, subbing in for the conversations that would normally take place in the office and allowing team members to get to know one another better on a personal level.
In addition to quiz templates for icebreakers, JotForm’s scheduling forms can make your online work life easier. You can use these to schedule your team meetings as well as one-on-one meetings, small group meetings, or virtual coffee breaks.