If you’ve ever presented on Zoom or hosted a virtual meeting, you know that it can be a challenge to engage your audience and get folks off mute to participate. If you’re looking to improve communication and connection, boost morale, and jumpstart creativity before diving into your next meeting — you’re in the right place! Icebreakers are a fantastic, interactive way to start your meeting with a bang. Keep reading to learn 23 fun and easy icebreakers that will make your next meeting memorable.
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Meetings, meetings, and more meetings. With the rise in virtual work over the last few years, usage has absolutely exploded for the popular video conferencing platform, Zoom. The number of annual meeting minutes on Zoom is now more than 3.3 trillion, with 300 million daily meeting participants.
After a quick glance at their own calendar of weekly meetings, most employees aren’t shocked by these numbers. What’s surprising is that more companies don’t capitalize on crucial meeting time with employees to use fun icebreakers to help improve communication and collaboration, boost morale, and get creative juices flowing. When you consider that 73% of employees wish their company would invest more in team building, it really is a mystery. The good news is that this article will tell you everything you need to know about leveraging meeting time to build team bonds.
Icebreakers are the key to breaking up the mundanity of meetings. It’s time to swap the typical “How are you?” and boring pre-meeting small talk for some crowd-pleasing icebreakers that engage your team.
Why Use Icebreakers for Zoom Meetings
Icebreakers are beneficial for in-person and virtual meetings alike and can benefit both small and large teams. But in an increasingly remote-first world, icebreakers can help build the connections that might’ve developed over time in person. While technological advances and shifts in both culture and attitude have made virtual connection more possible than ever, virtual team building still needs to be an intentional effort.
When you consider that 44% of employees feel that morale is “okay,” “bad,” or “very bad,” it should make you take a second look at your efforts to connect with your team. Virtual icebreakers via Zoom are a great way to boost morale and experience a host of team building benefits from skill-building to innovation to more motivation.
How To Do Icebreakers on Zoom
With all the Zoom features and functionality, playing virtual icebreakers can be more fun and interactive than ever! Taking full advantage of all those features is the most important part of planning an icebreaker activity for Zoom. Don’t fret, this complete guide to Zoom helps break down everything you need to know to maximize Zoom for all your icebreaking needs.
In preparation for your warm-up activities, be sure to get extra familiar with these key Zoom features:
• Breakout Rooms
• Raise Hand And Emoji reactions
23 Fun & Easy Zoom Icebreakers for Work
Planning and preparing your icebreakers doesn’t have to be intimidating. Below you’ll find a list of activities that range from requiring no prep work to full-blown team building activities like virtual escape rooms.
No Prep Work Required
1. Traditional Icebreakers
Sometimes the only icebreaker you need can be found in a fun list of questions that you can pose to the team. Have your people answer in chat or aloud. You can also split into breakout rooms into smaller groups to discuss the answers to a few questions.
Get Your Free Game
The 3-Minute Non-Cringey Ice Breaker for Your Next Meeting
2. Scavenger Hunt
Get those hearts racing by asking team members to race to grab specific items from around their homes in a limited amount of time. When they arrive back at their desks, ask them to send a chat message to check in and show who arrived first.
Here are a couple quick and easy virtual scavenger hunt ideas:
- You have one minute to grab something yellow.
- You have three minutes to complete these tasks:
- Find something circular.
- Take a picture of something green.
- Change your virtual background to the album art from a popular album from the 1980s.
3. Never Have I Ever
Never Have I Ever is a fun way to get to know your team and share laughs! Playing is simple and requires little explanation. Players can take turns going around the room sharing one thing they’ve never done. Everyone else can use the “Raise Hand” or emoji reactions to indicate if they’ve done said thing.
For example, one coworker might say, “Never have I ever told a child that Santa Claus wasn’t real.” If anyone else on the team has told a child the truth about Santa, they can use the Raise Hand or emoji reaction feature.
As the meeting host, you can also prepare a list of Never Have I Ever questions ahead of time to ask the team rather than going around the room.
4. This or That?
This or That — also known as Would You Rather? — involves presenting two options to your team members to see what they would select. This hilarious Zoom icebreaker is a great way to find commonalities among team members who would make the same decision.
The possibilities are endless. Here are a few This or That thought-starters to try with your team:
- Iced or hot coffee?
- Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts?
- Apple or Microsoft?
- Fiction or non-fiction books?
- Movies or TV shows?
- Pancakes or Waffles?
- Online shopping or brick-and-mortar stores?
- Los Angeles or New York?
- Batman or Superman?
- Day or Night?
- Personal maid or personal chef?
If you want to format this team building game as Would You Rather, here are some additional ideas to get your juices flowing:
- Would you rather find true love or win the lottery?
- Would you rather have to shower once every hour or only shower once a week?
- Would you rather be trapped on a tropical island or in a city?
5. 30-Second Stories
Who doesn’t love a good story? Ask team members to go around the room and share a 30-second story. It can be fictional or a fun story about something they’ve done or witnessed.
Depending on your team, you can leave the prompt vague by just asking for any 30-second story or provide some theme or context. Here are some ideas:
- Tell a 30-second story about a time you were really excited
- Tell a 30-second story about a time you were really scared
- Tell a 30-second story about something you learned that significantly changed a perspective you held
- Tell a 30-second story about a workplace accomplishment that makes you proud
6. Group Story
30-second stories are fun, but telling a story as a group can add a collaborative dynamic that’s sure to earn some laughs from the team. Ask one person to kick off the game by saying two to three lines of a story and end their turn with the cliffhanger “…and suddenly..” Going around the virtual room, the next person then picks up where that story leaves off and this continues until everyone takes a turn.
A typical game is full of random twists and turns and might sound something like this:
Player 1: It was a dark and rainy night. A man was walking alone along a street not too far from his house. He turned the corner towards a local park and suddenly…
Player 2: And suddenly…two or three men dressed in suits and wearing dark sunglasses rushed up to him. Startled, the man leapt backwards and suddenly…
Player 3: And suddenly…he found himself being thrown into the back of a limousine; a blindfold being placed over his eyes. Heart pounding, the man asked frantically, “What do you want?” And suddenly…
Fun Twist: Encourage team members to take their turns in rapid succession, leaving little time to ponder what they’ll add to the story. Who knows where the story will go!
7. Desert Island
Desert island is a common icebreaker for good reason. This is an easy way to learn a lot about what matters most to the people playing by asking them to say what few items they’d need if stranded on an island. With endless ways to tee up this question, desert island is a quick, easy, and customizable way to get the conversation started.
Which team members are practical and insist on listing survival essentials? Which teammates can’t live without their favorite book or album?
Here are a few fun ways to approach Desert Island:
- If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you bring?
- If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you bring?
- If you were stranded on a desert island, what three movies would you bring?
8. Common Threads
This team building icebreaker encourages team members to find a few things in common within a limited timeframe. Split your team into small groups using the Zoom breakout room feature and give them only a few minutes to find things in common.
You can approach this funny icebreaker in a few ways:
- Identify five movies you’ve all seen
- Identify three places you’ve all been
- Identify three TV shows you’ve all seen
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your prompts and, remember, teams should only have a few minutes!
9. One Word
The concept is simple: team members get one word to answer a prompt. Because of that, this icebreaker is a nice option when you only have a few minutes for a warm-up activity. There are endless questions to ask your team, here are a few to try before your next meeting:
- Share one word that describes how you’re currently feeling
- Share one word that describes your personality
- Share one word that describes what you hope to get out of this meeting
- Ask employees to drop an emoji in chat that describes how they’re feeling.
- Use the Zoom Whiteboard feature and tell each participant to draw a quick picture that describes how they’re currently feeling.
10. Battery Levels
If you’re looking for another quick icebreaker before diving into your meeting, asking each team member to share their current battery level is a great way to pulse check how everyone is feeling. Who is operating at 80% or higher? Whose battery is nearly drained? Reach out to team members with low battery levels to see how you can help!
This icebreaker is a great team building activity because it gives employees the opportunity to share how they’re doing and get the help and support they need from other teammates. Employee wellness is important and this activity is a great way to demonstrate that it’s a priority.
11. Highs and Lows
Sharing wins and losses or highs and lows can help quickly paint the picture for how each person’s week is going. When teams share wins and losses, everyone benefits from the learnings! The question to the team is simple: Share some high points and low points about your week so far.
This activity is low-lift and easy to explain. Just ask team members to go around the virtual room and share one work-related thing or person they’re grateful for. This activity is sure to build team bonds — expressing gratitude has even been shown to increase happiness, wellbeing, health, and more.
Some Prep Work Required
13. Dad Jokes
They say laughter is the best medicine. For this hilarious icebreaker, ask folks to come to the call prepared with their favorite dad jokes. Take turns sharing and voting which ones are the best.
14. Lessons Learned
Icebreakers and team building are about connecting as a team. What better way to connect than learning from the failures and wins that team members have experienced?
Ahead of the call, ask your team to come prepared to share a time they failed and what they learned from it. You can also ask them to share a win and the steps that led to their victory. When sharing fails, it’s important for managers and leaders to join in as well. Demonstrating vulnerability at all levels of the team is a great way to build camaraderie.
15. Two Truths and a Lie
This easy activity doesn’t really require a lot of prep work, but the game will go faster if participants can think about their two truths and a lie ahead of the call. As team members share two truths and a lie about themselves, have other players comment in chat what they believe is the lie.
For added fun, keep score then award a small prize for the teammate that catches the most lies!
Fun Twist: Prepare several two truths and lie about company history to test who knows the most about the business!
Is there a better crowd-pleaser than virtual trivia? Probably not. Trivia can help develop skills that help teams succeed in the workplace. Pose a question to the team and encourage them to race to answer via chat or split into breakout rooms and see which group gets the most correct answers!
When curating your list of virtual trivia games, consider these fun options:
- Trivia based on facts about team members
- Company-based trivia about the history, mission, vision, and values
- Trivia about pop culture, history, or random knowledge
17. Fun Backgrounds
For an easy conversation starter, ask your team to come to the call with a fun virtual background pre-loaded! You can pick a theme or topic and then see what folks come up with.
You can turn this into a game by having folks pick an iconic scene from their favorite movie and have teammates take turns guessing what movie each background is from.
Here are some other ideas:
- Come to the call with a virtual background that shows where you’d rather be right now
- Show us a favorite vacation photo using your virtual background
- Show us your favorite piece of art you using your virtual background
18. Guess Who?
This guessing game is a really fun way to engage your team and spark some competition ahead of your next meeting. Before the call, ask team members for a submission and have folks take turns guessing who’s who!
Here are some fun, easy ways to customize this game for your team:
- Baby Pictures: Guess which baby photo belongs to each teammate
- Favorite Movie: The Godfather, Legally Blonde, The Wizard of Oz — can you figure out everyone’s favorite movies of all time?
- First Concert: Bruce Springsteen? Sting? Can you figure out what artist each team member saw at their first concert?
- First Job: From cashiers to paper delivery, this is a fun way to learn what team members did for their first jobs!
- Desk Setup: Invite folks to snap a picture of their desk setup for a fun game of guess the desk.
This is one of the best ways to boost morale and kick off a team call. Shoutouts involves asking a few (or all) team members to prepare one PowerPoint slide with a photo of a team member they’d like to publicly recognize and a few bullets explaining why.
Peer recognition is one of the most powerful ways to motivate employees, boost morale, and build bonds. Everyone loves being appreciated and creating the space to encourage that behavior within teams will go a long way with the group.
By encouraging this behavior, you demonstrate to employees that you notice their hard work and provide them a chance to shine in front of their peers.
20. Show and Tell
Who says show and tell is for kids? Whether it’s a new mug or a pet, ask employees to come prepared to do a 30-second show and tell about whatever they want! This activity will generate a mix of laughs and sentimentality as you learn a bit more about what your team members are proud to show off.
Riddles and brain teasers can get the conversation going at the start of a call. Pose questions like, “What gets wet while drying?” to see which team members can crack the code and guess “A towel.”
If you’d like, you can split the team into groups and use breakout groups. Pose three riddles to the groups and see which team can come up with the most correct answers in a given time frame.
Other riddles to try:
- What can you catch, but not throw? A cold.
- What has many teeth but can’t bite? A comb.
- What has one eye but can’t see? A needle.
22. Virtual Escape Room
If you’re hosting a longer meeting, webinar or working session, it might be worthwhile to do a more thorough icebreaker. Virtual escape rooms are one of the best team building activities for any group. This puzzle-based activity challenges teams to collaborate and communicate to discover clues, solve problems, and crack codes to accomplish a shared goal in a limited time.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a team building activity that packs more useful team skills in one game. The best part? From prison breaks to ocean explorations, there are ideas for any and every group dynamic.
23. Online Game Show
If you’re looking to dial up the competition, an online game show is the perfect way to do just that. As a team, you’ll start together on Zoom before being split into groups to compete for the high score on the leaderboard. No complicated technology or convoluted rules, the online game show is pure fun and team building as you rack up points, earn badges, and battle wits!
Icebreakers are a great way to engage your team and have a blast. But it’s important to acknowledge that icebreaking activities don’t have to be centered around just dissolving pre-meeting tensions or awkwardness. The real benefit of icebreakers lies not in what they may prevent but instead the benefits they encourage: collaboration, connection, communication, and problem-solving — to name a few.
High-functioning teams who understand how to work together are the result of intentional efforts to connect and learn more about how each member operates and contributes to the whole. The fun activities listed above can help you move the needle towards a team that functions more synergistically. So, what are you waiting for?