Icebreakers don’t exactly have the best reputation. Everyone has a story of something they were forced to do that took way too long and was way too embarrassing.
No one wants that. But when icebreakers are done well, they help get people talking and connecting. And that can translate to better meeting participation when it really counts.
In our emerging hybrid workforce, communication is even more crucial. It’s too easy for those in the room to dominate hybrid meetings, leaving remote employees feeling left out. Icebreakers help set the tone for a more equitable meeting experience – and who wouldn’t want that?
Try these 13 virtual icebreakers to get your hybrid teams talking – in 5 minutes or less. Just make sure you have the right meeting room technology products, including a UC&C platform that includes breakout rooms and an audio setup with full-room coverage (here’s how we can help).
1. Would you rather?
Asking a Would you rather question is a super quick way to kick off meeting participation. Plus it translates well to hybrid work, giving remote people a low-stakes invitation to speak up. Here’s a list of 100 questions designed to help everyone get to know each other. Or for more established teams, try making your questions specific to the goals of the meeting.
2. What’s in common challenge
What do your teammates really have in common? Pair up and ask people to find the most unusual or obscure thing they both share. Then they can add it to the chat in your Microsoft® Teams or Zoom call. You can use breakout rooms to pair up remote participants with each other or with people in the office (here’s how to set them up in Teams and Zoom).
3. Where were you?
Use a random date generator and spin the wheel, coming up with a year or a month and year. Then ask people to share what they were doing back then – where they lived, what their favorite part of school or work was or how they spent their free time. In larger meetings, use breakout rooms in your UC&C platform to put people in small groups, so everyone can share without the activity dragging on too long.
4. Can I meet your…
This one’s designed to shine a spotlight on remote people. Ask those at home to introduce their at-home “coworkers” to the group, whether dog, cat or even houseplant. You could also get them to do a quick home office tour. It’s best to keep this icebreaker strictly voluntary – pressure to participate can have the opposite effect – but there will always be people who like the chance to share a little more about themselves.
5. Worst idea brainstorming
Are you struggling to get full participation in idea generation? Try breaking the ice with negative brainstorming. The goal is to come up with the worst idea possible to solve a problem. Placing the bar impossibly low can loosen up hybrid teams and get self-doubt out of the way early. Plus you may occasionally be able to mine unexpected gold from an idea someone thought was a dud.
6. Inspiration roundup
What’s the best ad you’ve seen? Is there a song that always makes you cry or a joke that always makes you laugh? Try taking turns sharing your inspiration. Not only can this help people get to know each other, seeing great works can move the imagination and put people in a creative frame of mind. This activity could be done in small groups (using breakout rooms), or pick a few people to share at the start of each meeting.
7. When things go bad
This one’s designed for people who create or sell products but can be fun for everyone. If you’ve ever had a really bad product or customer service experience, you probably remember it well. In this icebreaker, volunteers share their example of when things went really wrong. Not only do these worst-case scenario stories get people laughing, they’re a nice reminder to keep the end-user experience top of mind.
8. One-word pulse check
Quick – describe how you feel right now with just one word. This is a pulse check, and doing it at the start of a status meeting or planning session is an easy way to quickly take the temperature of the room. You can also use pulse checks to help hybrid teams reflect on their progress – ask them to pick one word to describe how a project went or how well everyone is working together.
9. Meme of the week
Similar to the activity above, ask everyone to bring with them a meme that sums up their work week. They can post it to an online whiteboard or other shared space so everyone in person and remote can see and enjoy it. If team members aren’t into memes, any image can work. This is a good way to kick off reflective work, such as retrospectives or team process reviews.
10. Team win sharing
For a mood lift, start your next meeting on an up note – have everyone take turns sharing a win of the day, week or quarter. It could be a goal that was achieved, positive customer feedback or a process improvement. The only requirement – it needs to be something that at least two team members achieved together.
11. Name that tune
In an idea borrowed from the Heardle daily game, begin your next meeting by playing a few seconds of a song and seeing who can guess it. If no one gets it right away, keep playing longer clips until someone has the right answer. To keep the selection varied, you can take turns getting to play deejay. It’s easy for remote people to play too (just make sure your audio system can clearly pick up the sound), and it might just stimulate team creativity.
12. Virtual scavenger hunt
For hybrid teams that don’t know each other well, a virtual scavenger hunt is a fun way to get people to share a little of themselves. Everyone can search through photos on their phone or the internet at large to find responses to simple prompts – like “My most famous celebrity encounter” or “My favorite way to unwind.” It’s best to keep things short – tasking people to find 5 items (not 20) keeps the activity from getting stale.
13. General icebreaker questions
Still need more ideas? Here’s a list of 201 icebreaker questions to try – from surface level (popcorn or M&Ms?) to thought provoking (What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?). Or get people attending the meeting to take turns coming up with an icebreaker question for everyone.
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Posted on Jul 27, 2022 6:00:00 AM