Icebreaker Games Ideas for Online Meetings

14 min read
July 4, 2022

Some of us get nervous just hearing the word “icebreaker''. Many of you probably remember participating in cringe-worthy icebreakers during your school days. The rise of fully remote and hybrid working patterns means you need to reconsider icebreaker activities and their value.

Table of contents

  1. What are virtual icebreakers?
  2. 3 tips to help you make the most out of virtual icebreaker activities
  3. Icebreaker games and activities
  4. An item on your desk
  5. Coffee break
  6. Virtual escape room
  7. Show and tell (pet edition)
  8. Team trivia quiz
  9. Two truths and one lie
  10. Virtual show and tell
  11. Personality test
  12. Who’s that baby?
  13. What would you do?
  14. Virtual happy hour
  15. Random question of the week
  16. Share the last picture that you took
  17. Icebreaker questions
  18. Weekend photography competition
  19. Rank your favourites
  20. Group doodle
  21. Tell us which city you’re in without telling us which city you're in
  22. Icebreaker questions
  23. Final thought
  24. Digital Samba: your partner in enabling virtual interactions

Recent years have seen a huge shift towards virtual and hybrid work patterns. For many, this has been a huge boost to people’s work-life balance. The biggest downfall of remote and hybrid working is the diminished sense of community we experience with our colleagues. 

icebreaker activity webinar software

Remember those water-cooler chats in the office? Bumping into a colleague you haven’t seen in a while seems like a thing of the past these days. When you work remotely, you never get to catch up with your teammates about non-work matters. How can we recreate the niceties and social interactions we experienced in the office online?

This is where virtual icebreaker games or activities come in. We aren’t just talking about your typical lockdown Zoom quiz here. 

Did you know that a Gallup poll found that having close friendships at work can boost employee satisfaction by 50%?

There are tons of fun virtual icebreaker activities you can do to develop a greater sense of team togetherness. To give you some inspiration, we have listed 17 virtual icebreaker activities you can deploy within your remote team.

What are virtual icebreakers?

An icebreaker is typically a question or activity used to prompt discussion, usually amongst people who haven’t met. Established remote teams can also use icebreaker activities to stimulate conversation and team bonding.

Icebreakers should help you and your colleagues break down that initial barrier to communication. You might discover that you and your boss share a common interest in a football team. Maybe you and the HR person are both cat lovers. The perfect icebreaker activity will help us get to know our colleagues more deeply and meaningfully

An icebreaker is a ship that breaks the ice to allow the smooth sailing of ships behind it. If we think of that in terms of communication, the icebreaker ship is a virtual activity, and the ships behind it are closer bonds with our coworkers. 

Here are our three top tips to consider before using a virtual icebreaker activity:

3 tips to help you make the most out of virtual icebreaker activities

virtual meetings

Choose appropriate activities for the team

Always choose appropriate activities or questions for the meeting. For example, if this is the first time your team is meeting virtually, stick to a more light-hearted activity that isn't too personal. No one wants to answer embarrassing questions in front of their new colleagues.

Alternatively, if your virtual team knows each other well, you should be ok with most activities or games. You will find lots of fun games and activities in this article that are perfect for teams with some history.

Don’t force it

Read the room! If you see that the activity or question makes people in the meeting uncomfortable or bored, it’s time to switch activities. Make sure you have a backup plan if your virtual icebreaker doesn't go to plan. 

We recommend that you start with some lighthearted activities and gauge your audience's reaction before progressing to more engaging activities. Sometimes, for reasons outside your control, it might not be a good day for virtual activities. Maybe some of your coworkers are super stressed or short on time. Come back and try another day.

Don’t overdo it

A well-thought-out virtual meeting icebreaker can be fun and make the team feel connected. Like anything, though, there can be too much of a good thing. Don’t overdo it on the virtual activities. You can quickly turn a good thing into a bad one. 

A virtual activity should be a fun escape from the work day. The last thing you want is to make people participate in an activity that makes a meeting feel like a chore.

Icebreaker Games

Icebreaker games and activities

Now that we know the importance of icebreakers and team togetherness, here are some of the best team icebreakers for virtual meetings.

An item on your desk

Ask everyone in the meeting to hold up a random item on their desk and say something about it. People can hold up something sentimental like a framed picture and talk about the person in the frame. You could hold up the personalised mouse mat that you have had for years and explain where you got it. Or, you could hold up nothing and explain that you are super organised and tidy!

  • Familiarity required: low
  • Effort level required: low
  • Group size: 2-15

Coffee break

coffee break webinar software

An informal 15-30 minute coffee break is a great idea for small to medium-sized team meetings. When working remotely, it’s far too easy to limit interactions with your colleagues to business matters. In real life, you would have time for small talk. Why should it be different for remote teams?

Scheduling a coffee break once or twice a week is a great way of maintaining some social interaction that isn’t work-related. You can even specify “no work talk allowed” to keep it light-hearted and informal.

  • Familiarity required: low
  • Effort level required: low
  • Group size: 2-10

Virtual escape room

Escape rooms are an incredibly fun test of teamwork and unity! Many of you will have done an escape room in person and had a great time. As a team-building exercise, escape rooms can work wonders. 

Luckily escape rooms also exist in an online format. Set a time and date for you and your colleagues to attend an escape room of your choice. You will soon know which of your coworkers has the best eye for finding clues.

  • Familiarity required: medium
  • Effort level required: high
  • Group size: 3-6

Show and tell (pet edition)

Let’s be honest, most of us are pet lovers. Whilst many people won’t feel comfortable talking about themselves, they will be happy to introduce their pets. Ask everyone in your team to present their pet to the group and tell them a little about them. If your colleagues don’t have a pet, they can use a meaningful object or rate the pets out of ten. 

This activity is fun because you never know what kind of pets your coworkers may have. You might be surprised when you discover that the graphic designer has a pet lizard! Maybe someone you thought was “boring” has a crazy pet like a parrot?

  • Familiarity required: medium
  • Effort level required: medium
  • Group size: 3-10

Team trivia quiz

quiz webinar software

Most of us are familiar with team trivia quizzes. They were very popular during lockdown. Some people may be bored with virtual quizzes, but the format is here to stay. A quiz is always a safe bet if you need a popular group activity.

Depending on the size of your team, you may need to split up into smaller groups. To add an extra dimension of fun, you might each contribute a set of questions based on personal interests (obviously, you won't answer your own sections!).

Trivia quizzes are best saved for settling in a new team member or for holiday team socials.

  • Familiarity required: low
  • Effort level required: high
  • Group size: 3-15

Two truths and one lie

Two truths and one lie is one of our favourite team icebreakers for a virtual meetings. The premise of the game is simple. Everyone must submit three facts about themselves, consisting of two truths and one lie.

The team has to guess which one of the three is a lie. This game always results in people discovering new and interesting facts about their colleagues. You don’t need to keep track of the score because this game is just about fun. 

  • Familiarity required: medium
  • Effort level required: medium
  • Group size: 3-10

Virtual show and tell

Everyone remembers doing a show and tell in their school days. The game is simple. Ask everyone in your team to display an object and tell a story about it. It could be how you found it, any sentimental stories behind it, or something funny. You could hold up something cool you picked up on holiday, a framed picture, or something less meaningful. The beauty of this game is that people decide what to share and have full control over how much they share.

  • Familiarity required: medium
  • Effort level required: low
  • Group size: 3-15

Personality test

Personality Test webinar software

Getting your team to answer a personality test can result in interesting discussions. Send everyone a link to a popular personality test. Here is a link to a Myers-Briggs 16 personality types test. There are plenty of different types of tried and tested personality tests.

Who’s that baby?

For this game, you need to ask your colleagues for a picture of themselves as a young child. Group all the pictures into a Google Doc and play a game where you have to match up the pictures with your colleagues. Compare the results at the end, and the person who gets the most right wins.

This game isn’t just about who gets the highest score. The pictures will hopefully generate some laughs and maybe even fun stories from the past. Pictures from 2-3 years old work best because it’s too hard to match babies to adults!

  • Familiarity required: high
  • Effort level required: medium
  • Group size: 3-10

What would you do?

What would you do is a fun game based on hypothetical questions that test your problem-solving skills. Choose a hypothetical question (fun or quirky questions work best) and split your team into groups to form an action plan. 

After a set period, get each team to present their action plan to the rest of the meeting. As well as being fun, this game can give you valuable insight into your colleague's problem-solving skills. We recommend you stay away from questions that are too serious or controversial. Keep it light-hearted.

  • Familiarity required: medium
  • Effort level required: medium
  • Group size: 3-10

Virtual happy hour

webinar software 3

It was common for coworkers to get a drink together after a long day in the office. With remote teams, this isn’t possible, so why not try virtually? Alcohol in moderation has always been a good social lubricant. Set a time for you and your colleagues to meet after work and enjoy a drink together (it doesn’t have to be alcoholic).

Spending time outside of work together can work wonders when building togetherness. Employees who feel like they have friends at work report higher levels of job satisfaction.

  • Familiarity required: low
  • Effort level required: low
  • Group size: 3-15

Random question of the week

webinar software article 2

Random weekly questions are a great little icebreaker for virtual meetings that can help stimulate interaction amongst a remote team. Each week or month, ask your colleagues a random question. Here are some examples you can use: 

  1. What’s the funniest thing you saw this week? 
  2. What’s the grossest thing you ate this week?
  3. What song are you currently loving that you are embarrassed about?
  4. Where is your next vacation?

Over time, you will learn interesting things about your colleagues and strengthen team bonds.

  • Familiarity required: low
  • Effort level required: low
  • Group size: 3-50

Share the last picture that you took

This activity has the potential to be a lot of fun. Ask your colleagues to find the last picture they took on their phones. Then ask them to upload it for everyone to see or show it to the camera. This simple activity will stimulate some good conversation amongst a group.

  • Familiarity required: medium
  • Effort level required: low
  • Group size: 3-15

Share The Last Picture That You Took

Icebreaker questions

Hosting a short icebreaker questions session can be useful for new teams. Start small and ask everyone to introduce themselves and their role within the company. You can then start with simple, fun questions like “What is your favourite food?” or “Where was your last vacation?”

You will want to structure the session and call out who will be answering next before it is their turn. These sessions can become chaotic if they involve too many people and have no structure. The whole point of the activity is to ensure that everyone contributes and feels involved.

  • Familiarity required: low
  • Effort level required: low
  • Group size: 3-50

Weekend photography competition

A weekend photography competition is a great way for you and your team to test your photography skills. This activity needs a little pre-planning. Let participants know that the competition will take place next week and that the winner will be voted on. 

You and your team will spend the whole weekend frantically trying to take the most beautiful artsy picture to show your colleagues. This activity is best suited to a meeting at least 30 minutes long. You will want some time to present your pictures and vote on the winner. You may discover that you enjoy photography more than you thought!

  • Familiarity required: low
  • Effort level required: high
  • Group size: 3-10

Rank your favourites

Set up individual polls and ask participants to rank a group of things from their favourite to least favourite. The possibilities are endless for this game, but here are a few ideas:

  1. Rank these fast-food restaurants from your favourite to least favourite
  2. Rank these TV series from your favourite to least favourite
  3. Rank these breakfast cereals from your favourite to least favourite

This game is super fun and can provoke many discussions and lively debates. Nothing gets people talking like defending their favourite things!

  • Familiarity required: low
  • Effort level required: low
  • Group size: 3-15

Group doodle

You need a video conferencing platform with a shared whiteboard feature for this game. Decide on a theme such as “who can draw the best cat”, or just have a freestyle doodling session. 

This game is a great way to unwind after a heavy day of meetings. Have fun with your coworkers and discover who is the best virtual doodler.

  • Familiarity required: low
  • Effort level required: low
  • Group size: 3-10

Tell us which city you’re in without telling us which city you're in

The perfect game for far-flung national and internationally-based remote teams. You should ensure you are all mostly from different cities. Otherwise, it won’t be as fun. 

The point of the game is to give people clues as to what city or country you are in without telling them what it’s called. For example, if you live in London, you might say, “A queen lives in my city”, or “My city has a famous Ferris wheel named after a part of your head”. 

Hopefully, after this game, you will improve your geography skills and learn interesting facts about your colleagues.

  • Familiarity required: low
  • Effort level required: medium
  • Group size: 3-15

Icebreaker questions

An icebreaker doesn’t need to be a special activity. If you are short on time or inspiration, you can simply ask a series of general icebreaker questions. Here are some example questions:

  1. Who is the most interesting person you ever met and talked with?
  2. What have you done this week that made you feel proud?
  3. What was your favourite vacation you ever went on?
  4. What is one thing you wish you knew when you were 18?
  5. Who inspires you the most?
  6. What was your dream job as a child?
  7. Who was your first celebrity crush?
  8. What was your first pet?
  9. Which of your colleagues has helped you the most this week?
  10. What is your favourite lunch? 
  11. What country would you love to live in?
  12. What is your favourite city?
  13. What is your favourite hobby?
  14. Where were you born?
  15. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  16. Where would you hide your treasure if you were a pirate?
  17. What would you be if you had to describe yourself as an animal?
  18. What is the funniest thing you saw this week?
  19. What is your favourite tv-series and why?
  20. What is your favourite weird object?
  21. Where would you be if you could be anywhere in the world right now?
  22. What is your favourite breakfast?
  23. What is your all-time favourite movie?
  24. Do you have a favourite Youtuber?
  25. What is something that you think everyone should do more?
  26. What is your favourite physical activity?
  27. What is your favourite drink at a bar?
  28. What is the best book you have ever read?
  29. If you could start university again, what degree would you do?
  30. When was the last time you danced?

Final thought

Virtual working is great, but a lack of social interaction is a huge drawback for remote teams. Virtual icebreakers and activities can counter this and are a great way of fostering social interaction between remote colleagues. Used correctly, virtual icebreakers for online meetings should be a fun and engaging way of spending time with your coworkers. 

Remote teams who consider each other friends are more productive and report higher job satisfaction. We hope you host your own successful virtual icebreaker sessions using some of our suggested games and activities! 

Digital Samba: your partner in enabling virtual interactions

In order to facilitate all these exciting virtual icebreaker activities, reliable and secure communication is paramount. That's where Digital Samba steps in. As an industry-leading provider of video conferencing API and SDK, Digital Samba assists businesses in embedding high-quality, reliable video conferencing into software products or websites.

Digital Samba stands out not only because of its powerful and versatile features but also due to its uncompromising stance on security and privacy. Being EU-hosted and GDPR-compliant, we ensure that your data stays protected while also adhering to European data regulations, giving you peace of mind during your virtual meetings and activities.

We have integrated end-to-end encryption into our services, offering a secure environment for your interactions. This feature is crucial in an era where data breaches and privacy infringements are unfortunately common. By utilising Digital Samba's secure and efficient tools, you can focus on making your virtual interactions more engaging and effective, leaving the technical and security aspects to us.

Our services, therefore, do more than simply facilitate communication; they help to foster deeper relationships within remote teams, enabling a sense of unity that's crucial for successful collaboration. With Digital Samba, you can enjoy the freedom and convenience of remote work without sacrificing the richness of human connection.

Embrace the future of remote team interactions with Digital Samba, and make your virtual icebreakers and team-building activities a success.

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