Keep energy levels up during your virtual meetings 

Break the monotony and predictability of your online video calls with virtual icebreakers. It is not unheard of to have 7 to 10 online video calls in a day – all in the same obvious set up. Your colleague used to be a desk away, your customer was a short drive away, or could easily drop in and have a conversation, supporting departments a floor above now must be contacted via telephone or video call. So how can you make an online video call more interesting and less draining? 

We have come up with ten short virtual icebreakers that help keep the energy in meetings, you can either use them at the beginning of a meeting or whenever you sense that energy levels are dwindling. 

1. Picture Time 

This icebreaker involves taking a picture of different items or places at home and briefly describe what is in your picture. A good example is taking a picture outside your window especially if you are in different parts of the world. You could also take a picture of your home office setup and share it. This gives a glimpse into the lives of your colleagues at home. Picture time ideas: 

  • Home office table set up – what is on your desk? 
  • Shoes that you are wearing (or not wearing) 
  • Favourite family photo on the wall in your home office or living room 
  • What’s in your fridge? 
  • Share your desktop – good time to see organized vs organized mess desktops 
  • Greenery around you – a potted plant, tree or some grass 

2. Two Truths and A lie 

This virtual icebreaker involves telling three statements about yourself. Of the three, one should be a lie, giving the rest a challenge to figure out which one it is. Take a vote on the statements, reveal the lie, and celebrate those who got it right. 

Prompting your meeting participants to prepare these statements beforehand yields better results. Keep the statement as current as possible so that people can also share a little of what is going on in their lives. If you would like an example of how this game is played check out Jimmy Fallon’s true confessions with Jenifer Lawrence and John Oliver. 

3. 30 Seconds of Fame 

This virtual icebreaker involves individuals getting a set period to share their current events – the fun or mundane things that are happening around them. This works better in a more casual meeting. Some of the people in isolation are alone and might need to let loose. This could involve any of the following: 

  • Work related stories 
  • Family stories 
  • Neighbourhood stories 
  • Any other topics that the team might choose 

4. Sing Along 

This icebreaker involves picking a common song. Something current, something local and recognisable. Get everyone to sing along to the artist. Post the lyrics if you must and let your staff to go for it. 

5. One Word for Many 

This virtual activity involves the group leader preparing common grouped names ahead of time. When the meeting begins, divide your participants into various breakout rooms and ask them to describe one word that describes a list of words you will call out. For example, Lion, bear, and whale is Mammals.

 

6. The Connection 

This icebreaker involves having people connect “physically” on the screen. Have one member of staff be ready with a mobile phone or tablet to record and direct this activity. Have the group leader have each person hi five the person on the screen next to theirs. They can do it side to side or up to down. You can take it to the next level by requesting them to do chest pumps, lean on each other and so on. Have fun, record it and share. 

7. Factory Line 

This fun icebreaker requires the team to virtually pass items from one screen to another. Just like “the connection activity” pick a team leader and ensure they are ready with a mobile phone or tablet to record and direct this activity. The group leader should direct the passing of paper or any items that might be commonly shared within the video call. Record a video and share it among yourselves.

 

8. Time Machine 

This icebreaker involves running hypothetical situations. If you could go back in time: 

  • What would you tell your 18-year-old self? 
  • Would you change your major in college/university? 
  • What would you change about yourself? 
  • Add other questions you might want to add. 

9. Stuck in The Serengeti 

This virtual icebreaker involves story telling. Tell a creative story about going on a safari and then suddenly, the 4×4-safari truck’s engine fails and leaves you all stranded in the middle of the Serengeti. The guide tells the team they have 10 minutes to grab what you need and run as a pride of lions is about to catch up to you. Ask them to post five things they would grab. Give them 30 seconds. This is a good opportunity to see where people place their priorities. 

10. Question of the week 

We saved the best for last. This icebreaker involves setting a random question at the beginning of every week, and discussing the answer at meetings. You can use this to keep staff engaged on the current matter or to check up on people. Always give bonus points to staff that are doing self-development activities. 

Running Ice Breakers – Our Top Three Tips 

1. Keep it brief – remember the purpose of the icebreaker is to energize or introduce the meeting. It is not in itself, the reason for the meeting so ensure that it is not too lengthy. 

2. Keep it professional and safe – while you might not be in the office the meeting you still need to be professional. Do not make anyone feel uncomfortable, don’t get too personal and be respectful of one another. 

3. Keep it fun. 

We hope that these virtual icebreakers add value to your team during this difficult time. If you are interested in building chemistry, engagement and teamwork in your virtual teams view the virtual team building activities we have available and get in touch with us.