Ice Breakers for Virtual Meetings: a How-to Guide

April 16, 2023

8 min read

Ice breakers–fun group activities that bring people together and build a strong community–are more important than ever in today’s world. Since remote work has grown in popularity, a lot of us have lost the small moments to connect with our coworkers. Without chats in the break room between meetings and small talk while sharing an elevator ride, it can be hard to find community at work. We should all be intentional about connecting with our colleagues virtually, and ice breakers are a great way to do that. Beyond building community within your team, ice breakers are a great way to make Zoom introductions fun. In this article, we’ll cover some of the best ice breakers for Zoom meetings, virtual classes, and online workshops. We’ll also provide examples of great virtual ice breaker games and questions.

What Are Virtual Ice Breakers?

Ice breakers are short and simple activities for people to acquaint themselves with one another. Many popular in-person ice breaker activities involve physical movement in some way. For example, in the ice breaker game beach ball toss, the group passes a beach ball with questions written on it. When you catch the ball, you answer the question your thumb lands on. Incorporating simple movement into an activity is a great way to break the ice because it helps participants relax and relieve stress before a meeting.

However, an activity like beach ball toss is impossible to carry our virtually. Because of the rapid growth of digital technology and the rise of remote work, it’s important that we do the hard work of developing fun ice breakers that can successfully be done virtually. With more and more meetings happening through Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams, it can be difficult to connect with your coworkers and classmates. A great way to do this is through virtual ice breakers. While many of us no longer meet face to face, ice breakers remain an effective way for people to get to know each other.

The truth is that communicating virtually is nothing like interacting in-person. Becoming comfortable communicating over virtual platforms can be difficult. Here’s the good news: ice breakers can help you and everyone on your team improve speaking skills in online meetings. Though video and audio meeting technology is constantly improving, the tiny lag in video calls can can present unique challenges in communicating with others. Those awkward moments resulting from Zoom lag can make people feel uncomfortable in online meetings. Luckily, there are simple ways to fix this problem. That’s what ice breakers are for: making people feel comfortable. There are many tricks for gaining confidence using virtual meeting platforms, and one great strategy is using virtual ice breakers.

Examples of Virtual Ice Breaker Questions

+ How to Come Up with Your Own Ice Breakers

It’s difficult to think of fun ice breaker questions on the spot. Having some solid ice-breaking questions ready to go before going into a virtual meeting makes it easy to start a conversation. Here are a few questions we think are great for breaking the ice.

  • If you were a body of water, what would you be and why?
  • What’s the last movie you saw, and what did you not like about it?
  • What celebrity or historical figure would you wait over an hour in line to meet?
  • If you could take a road trip anywhere this weekend, where would you go and why?

As you can see, the topics of these questions are all accessible to a wide audience: movies, road trips, and famous people. The best ice breaker questions are ones that are easy to answer.

It’s important not only to have great examples of ice breaker questions but to be good at coming up with your own. At the end of the day, the ice breaker questions that best engage and excite your coworkers, peers, or students will be unique to that group. Ice breaker questions should be appropriate for the context you’re in, not too invasive, and, most importantly, not boring. Here are some dos and don’ts of developing questions to use as ice breakers in your next virtual meeting.

DO encourage people to talk about themselves

People love talking about themselves, so questions like “What dog breed would you be?” can spark really passionate discussions. Additionally, this is one of the easiest topics for most people to talk about. This way, everyone has something to contribute to the discussion and no one feels left out–everyone is an expert on themselves!

DO keep it relevant

If you’re leading an activity with a group of middle schoolers, and you ask them what podcasts they like to listen to, you might not get a great response. This is an extreme example, but it’s important to keep in mind what topics are and aren’t relevant to your group.

DON’T ask yes-or-no questions

There’s no better way to shut down conversation than asking a yes-or-no question. Don’t you agree?

DON’T make questions too difficult to answer

It’s best to stay away from complex topics. The goal of asking ice breaking questions is to make people feel comfortable and connected with one another, not to start a debate. It’s not so much about the answers to the questions, it’s about making people feel empowered to speak up around their colleagues. Therefore, stick to topics that are easy to talk about, like movies, animals, and favorite foods.

The Best Virtual Ice Breaker Games

Anyone who has worked in an office probably knows how tedious a poorly executed ice breaker activity can feel. Ice-breaking games that aren’t engaging can deflate a group’s enthusiasm and just feel like a waste of time.

Luckily, the Yoodli AI speech coach provides a variety of fun ice breaker games that are easy to use in virtual meetings. Try Yoodli’s games on your next video call to break the ice with participants–or try them on your own! The great thing about Yoodli’s games is that you can play them on your own or take turns with your team. Here’s a secret: these games aren’t just fun activities–they train you to become a better speaker.

Virtual Ice Breaker Game #1: No Filler

No Filler has open-ended ice-breaking questions like “what’s your favorite family tradition?”, “how was your weekend?”, and “What do dogs say to each other when they’re barking?” In addition, it helps improve your communication skills by counting your filler words. Making No Filler into a competitive game with your colleagues is a fun way to both keep them engaged and help everyone improve their public speaking skills.

Virtual Ice Breaker Game #2: Spin a Yarn

Spin the Yarn is a great ice breaker game for virtual meetings.

Take it up a notch and access your team’s creativity with Yoodli’s Spin a Yarn game. In this game, players have to incorporate unexpected words into a story as they answer questions like “What’s the first thing you would say to an alien from mars?” Spin a Yarn is a great ice breaker because it takes away the pressure of coming up with what to say. Instead, you just have to use your creativity to weave Yoodli’s randomly generated words into your answer.

Virtual Ice Breaker Game #3: Metaphor Mania

In Metaphor Mania, you have only a few seconds to connect two seemingly unrelated things: “A is like B because…”. This is a fun game that makes you think creatively; it’s a great way to keep your team engaged because it’s silly and 100% not work-related.

Why Should I Use Ice Breakers?

Ice breakers, while simple, are an often overlooked form of creating personal connections in a group. By doing fun collaborative activities, you learn who a person is outside of their role as your coworker or employee. Studies have shown that people perform faster and take turns more effectively in collaborative tasks after completed an ice breaker activity. There are a number of ways your team will benefit in the long-term from fun and engaging ice breakers. First, ice breakers develop trust among a group because they make people comfortable speaking up. Second, people are more productive when they feel connected to the people around them. Fostering a dynamic collaborative work environment helps organizations retain valuable employees. Last, giving introductions on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or any online meeting platform can often be boring. Luckily, ice-breaking questions are a great way to make virtual introductions fun and engaging.

How to Improve Your Virtual Ice Breakers

Ice breaker activities aren’t just useful for the first day of classes or the first company meeting of the quarter. Ice breakers should become part of your daily routine when working with your remote team. Even a group that is already very close can benefit from fun daily ice breakers. If you’re a leader in your office, classroom, or sports team in charge of running ice breaker activities, try implementing a short daily ice breaker at the beginning of every meeting. As you lead more ice breakers, you’ll hone your sense of what works for your team and what doesn’t. Hopefully, those activities will become a tradition your team looks forward to before every meeting.

An easy way to improve your virtual ice breakers is through Yoodli, a free AI speech coach. You can use Yoodli for Online Meetings on your collaborative virtual calls to receive AI-powered analytics on your own and your team’s speech. Documenting your meetings can allow you to look back at previous ice breaker games you used with your team and see which ones were most successful. As you move forward, try to tailor your ice breaker activities to focus on what works best for your team.

The Bottom Line

In this article, we’ve covered…

  • What are virtual ice breakers?
  • Dos and don’ts of virtual ice breakers
  • How to come up with good virtual ice breaker questions
  • Examples of virtual ice breaker games
  • Why you should use ice breakers every day

Virtual meetings have become ubiquitous in today’s world. This means that it’s more important than ever to make a conscious effort to connect with your team members. A great way to do this is through great virtual ice breaker activities. By adapting to the modern working world and doing the hard work of implementing fun virtual ice breakers, you’ll improve your team’s productivity and sense of community.


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