Even the very best of professional relationships can begin with awkward silences and feelings of unease or shyness. If you have a large remote team, these feelings are likely to be heightened due to additional pressure. One way to overcome these feelings is to introduce Zoom icebreakers for large groups into your team building activities.
The purpose of virtual icebreakers for large groups is to provide a way for people who don’t know each other very well to introduce themselves. They are also an incredibly effective tool to engage a team, of any size, and make them feel comfortable and established.
To help you create a budding workplace team over Zoom we have compiled a list of 11 of the very best Zoom icebreakers for large groups.
Shivering with excitement (pardon the pun)? Then let’s get started.
How do you create an icebreaker game and virtually host with a large group?
Anyone who has managed a virtual team will know how impersonal and unfriendly Zoom calls can feel, especially when there are members who are new to a team or when a completely new team has just been formed.
To get over this tension, fun icebreakers can be used to start conversations and rule out any nervousness. They will add an element of excitement and relaxation to a virtual meeting and will lay the foundations of a strong and cohesive team.
If you’re wanting to host icebreakers virtually then here’s our top piece of advice: don’t overcomplicate it. Act as though you were hosting these icebreakers in person, find ones that you know you and your team will enjoy, ensure that they can be carried out on Zoom… and then sit back and watch the magic unfold!
And another top tip for icebreakers: make them short and sweet. No one likes to spend hours asking each other questions and it’s at this point ice breakers can become boring, tedious, and a tad cringy. If you want to learn about other virtual games to play with large teams, not just icebreaker games, then check out our comprehensive list of virtual team building activities.
What are good icebreakers over Zoom?
Zoom has taken top place as the most popular communication platform for large, virtual teams. As a result, it is incredibly likely that you and your team will be using Zoom and looking for an excellent way to break the ice. Check out the 11 very best virtual icebreakers for large teams that we have listed below.
1. Keep it simple: traditional icebreakers
Simple icebreaker questions are not to be overlooked when finding fun ways to introduce a new team or engage and motivate a new one. They can be as complicated or as simple as you like, and they take very little time to plan and organize (a win-win for you).
To host a traditional icebreaker activity on Zoom, think of a number of questions that you can go around the virtual room and ask the team members. Questions can be easy and free from intimidation, such as “What did you eat for breakfast?”, “Are you an early bird or night owl?”, or “Do you prefer sweet or savory foods?”
However, if you want something juicier you could ask “What’s your most used emoji?”, “When you die, what do you want to be remembered for?” or “What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done in the workplace?”
You’ll be incredibly surprised at how much you can learn about people from simple questions like this. They are great introductions and can really make your team feel at ease.
If you want more examples of icebreaker questions, check out our list of over 160 excellent icebreaker questions you can ask your team (I know, we’re so kind doing all the work for you!).
Although the above icebreaker method is easy and great to use in many situations, we think this method is a little simple and that there are plenty more exciting icebreakers that you can use… hence why we’ve written a list of 11 of them! Read on to find out more.
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2. Repeat Performance
As one of our favorites, this icebreaker activity allows you to give a motivating and inspiring speech to your employees, whilst ensuring that they remember the values of the company and/or the purpose of the meeting.
Breaking the ice in this manner is incredibly effective for team building, as research has repeatedly found that a good speech will increase employee empowerment and motivation. Employees will walk away feeling empowered to adhere to the words you have chosen for them to learn.
Instructions to play Repeat Performance:
· Pick two specific words or phrases that you would like participants to walk away from the speech remembering. For example: cohesion, fulfillment, training, bonding, finance, or compassion.
· Set up a Zoom meeting and explain to your team members that they have the exciting opportunity to participate in your speech.
· To participate in the speech, team members can shout out a word when you point with your right hand and a different word when you point with your left… Make sure your hands are in clear view on your Zoom call!
· For example, if you picked the words “success” (left hand) and “proactive” (right hand) you might say “here at (company name) we thrive on” and point your left hand. Team members will shout out “success” and will remember the word for a long time after.
· Carry on playing until you think you have delivered an empowering speech and made your point.
3. Simon Says
If you’ve ever been to a child’s birthday party or been present at a school break time, you are likely to have played a thrilling game of Simon Says. As an adult, this game is just as simple as the ones 5-year-olds play (and it’s just as fun!).
The rules of Simon Says are pretty simple, but just in case you’ve forgotten how to play it or are a little confused about how it would work virtually, here’s how to play Simon Says on Zoom:
· Spend some time planning what actions you would like to get your team to do.
· Set up a team meeting and then send an email to your team explaining that for this meeting they’ll probably want to be at home (although it could be entertaining for other people in a café to watch) and that they’ll need to be standing up in front of the camera.
· Once online, get your team to stand up and explain the rules.
· When you say “Simon Says” followed by an order, the group should obey the order. You can make these orders as complicated or as simple as you like. For instance, you might say “Simon Says point upwards with your right hand” or “Simon Says spin around”. Or you might say “Simon Says do a handstand” or, “Simon Says find an object related to work”.
· To make this icebreaker even more inclusive and really break the ice, you can take it in turns to allow team members to give out the instructions.
4. Two Truths and One Lie
This Zoom icebreaker is a fantastic way for the whole team to get to know everyone on a more personal level. It allows members to open up to each other and creates trust within a team.
As the name suggests, team members will state two truths and one lie about themselves. The other members of the team must then guess which is the lie.
For example, I would say “I am left-handed (truth), I have a pet dog (truth) and I have three sisters (lie)”. To play, you would take turns asking each person in your pre-scheduled Zoom meeting to say their truths and lies. Then, the other team members will get to vote on what they think is a lie and what they think is the truth.
5. How to play “Guess the Acronym” icebreaker on Zoom
We all use acronyms in our daily lives. Whether it’s a classic ‘LOL’ when we find something funny, or more business-related terms such as ‘B2B’, ‘SMART’, or ‘CPU’. Guess the acronym is a simple, and work-related, way to get people giggling and having fun.
Over Zoom, ask your large team members to put acronyms into a chat channel or say them over video chat. Other team members can then guess what the acronym means. If you want to make this icebreaker more competitive, you can play it so that team members must race to say the acronym correctly first. The person who gets the most right first is then crowned the winner.
Top tip: to get more for your money, make the acronyms work-related. For instance, if you work in finance, use related ones. The same goes for marketing, sales, or science.
Playing trivia with a virtual team is a fantastic way for remote colleagues to showcase their knowledge, learn some new skills and have a good time. Trivia is an easy-to-coordinate, ‘DIY’ game that you can tailor to your unique team. This means that literally anyone can get involved in… and that’s why we love it so much!
How to play DIY trivia on Zoom:
· Schedule a date and time with your team members and set up a Zoom meeting
· Randomly split your team into even groups (they will compete whilst also learning about each other!)
· Create a list of questions that you want to ask your team. You might ask them general knowledge questions, such as “What is the largest continent?” or “Who is the prime minister in the U.K.?”. Or (now this is where it gets really fun) you might ask them more personal questions about other team members. For instance, you might ask “How many children does Jane have?”, or “What is Peter’s job title?”
· You will then call the questions out to the team and the first person to guess the answer wins a point for their team (note: personal questions can be answered by any team, but Jane or Peter would not be allowed to answer the question).
· Offer prizes if you want to make it competitive.
7. Good Old Times
Designed to bring back childhood memories of our nostalgic teenage years, this icebreaker game is designed to help people bond over deep and meaningful memories.
In your Zoom meeting, ask childhood-related questions for your team to discuss and bond over. Popular questions include “What was your favorite candy?”, “Which band was your favorite growing up?”, “What was your favorite childhood holiday?” or “What was the name of your childhood pet?”
There will be loads to talk about and people can really get to know each other with a deep personal connection, as opposed to just on a surface, more corporate level.
8. Rank Your Favorites
Like the previous icebreakers, you can engage your team members on a much more personal level by asking them to rank their favorite options out of a list of things. Whether their favorite things are from their childhood or favorite foods, your team members can learn a lot about each other and use this newfound knowledge to bond!
Playing this icebreaker game over Zoom is incredibly stress-free. Pick a genre and then pick five options that your team members must rank from their favorite to their least favorite. They can submit their responses in a chat channel, or over video. Once the responses are submitted for everyone to see, expect some lively conversations about why people think x, y, or z is their all-time favorite.
Some examples of genres you could use:
· Rank these 90’s movies: A Time to Kill, Jurassic Park, The Shawshank Redemption, Clueless, and Notting Hill
· Rank these pasta dishes: carbonara, bolognaise, lasagne, cannelloni, and ravioli
· Rank these animals: dog, sheep, cat, horse, and hamster (this one will definitely get your team talking!)
9. Waffles vs Pancakes
Fun, engaging, and designed to get your team hungry to know more about each other, Waffles vs Pancakes is one of our all-time favorite icebreakers.
It can be played very easily over Zoom and here’s how you do it:
· Start by asking one team member whether they prefer waffles or pancakes.
· The team member must say which one they prefer and replace the other one (their least preferable one) with an alternative item. For example, they may pick waffles and then swap in cheese.
· The next player must then say whether they prefer waffles or cheese. If they picked cheese, they would replace waffles with an item (e.g., mangos).
· The next player must say if they prefer cheese or mangos (I know what I’d pick… you can’t have mangos on pizza…)
· Carry on the game until every play has had a go.
10. Work from home fails
Perhaps one of the simplest icebreakers to play, but incredibly relevant to remote teams, all you do for this game is ask everyone on Zoom what their biggest working from home fails have been.
We’ve all had one. Maybe one colleague didn’t turn off their Zoom camera when picking their nose. Someone else thought they were on mute when they sighed. Or, maybe they accidentally spilled water over their keyboard mid-meeting? Either way, I am sure they will find something to laugh about!
11. Desert Island
The last on our list, desert island icebreakers are not new, we’ve been playing them for years. And as modern is not always best, we think you should include this icebreaker at some point in your team building process to help connect and bond your team members.
At the start of a Zoom meeting, simply ask each team member to name five items they would bring with them if they were stranded on a desert island. After, open the floor up for discussion so that each individual can find others who share the same thought processes.
What are some other fun virtual icebreakers (if not using Zoom)?
Although Zoom is popular, it is not for everyone. Some virtual teams like to use other platforms to communicate, and other teams aren’t always virtual and have the opportunity to meet in person. As a result, we’ve made sure we’ve included some fantastic icebreakers to meet the needs of these teams.
If the games on the list below take your fancy, then check out this list of 47 virtual team building activities and icebreakers that don’t have to be done on Zoom!
1. Pass the Buck
This is an icebreaker game that you can’t really play over Zoom as it requires in-person interaction. But don’t let that put you off. If you can get your team together in person then this icebreaker game can add great value to their interactions and connections.
· Ask team members to take a coin out of their pocket (or purse/wallet) and hold it in the air.
· Team members walk around the room and find someone who has presented the same money as them.
· Partners share one piece of information with each other that they think is valuable. This information can be personal, or general knowledge.
· They can decide whether they think the information is of value, if it is they give them their money. If they don’t, they can keep it!
2. AirBnB Experiences with Your Team
Airbnb doesn’t just have to be for staycations. Surprisingly, you can use it for a productive team building activity for your large teams. If you can’t meet in person, then this method is a great way to mimic in-person interaction.
Hosted by experts from all over the world, you can pick categories, from light-hearted to educational, and a host provides a fun and realistic icebreaking activity. Then all you have to do is sit back, relax and watch as your team creates unbreakable bonds by doing tasks that are designed to bring any team together. For the Airbnb team building and icebreaker games that we love the most, check out our full list of Airbnb virtual experiences here.
3. Virtual Escape Rooms
Escape rooms are great ways to get your employees excited, adventurous, and everything in between! You can play these in real life, or you can play them virtually!
To play a virtual escape room from the Team Building Hub (the best of the best) simply:
- Choose the escape room adventure that you’d like to play with the team (options include research laboratories, a prison, an art museum, and more!)
- Follow the link sent by your host and log on
- Work through the puzzles and clues with your team until you have successfully broken out of your room!
3. Musical Chairs
Another childhood classic, Musical Chairs is a great way to get everyone up, moving around (perfect for teams who are sedentary all day), and having fun.
The rules don’t change between an adults game and a child’s game, so here’s how to play:
- Play some fun music that you know your team will like.
- Set some chairs out in a circle. You need one less chair then you have people playing.
- Have your team members walk around the perimeter of the chair circle.
- When the music stops, everyone must immediately sit in a chair and the person left standing is out.
- Remove another chair from the circle and continue to play until only one person is left.
That’s a wrap!
We hope you’ve liked our list of the best Zoom icebreaker activities for large groups. This list of icebreakers for large groups on Zoom will undeniably provide your virtual team with ways to get to know each other, unwind during stressful times, and have some fun.
If after reading this you’ve tried one of these icebreakers, then let us know how you’ve got on. Did you manage to break the ice with a new team? Or did your long-standing team manage to connect on a deeper level?
Heather Harper has a Masters in Occupational Psychological from the University of Manchester. She currently works as an editorial writer specializing in organizational psychology – helping teams work better together.