February 18, 2023 by Andrea Rajic
Table of contents
We’re not fans of cheesy—unless we’re talking about pizza. Nobody looks forward to worn-out icebreaker games and questions they’ve heard a million times, even if they miss socializing with their team around casual topics. Asking cliche questions may get you a few eye-rolls but not true engagement and team bonding.
If you’re looking to break the ice in a relevant and fun way and lighten up the atmosphere in your team meetings, here’s a list of awesome virtual and hybrid icebreaker activities to help you set the right tone and boost creativity and teamwork.
External meetings may have a more professional tone than internal team meetings, depending on who you’re meeting. For example, if you’re speaking to partners or investors, the questions you’d typically use to warm up your team aren’t appropriate. The set of icebreaker questions for this purpose should be relevant and serious but also engaging.
Here are a few icebreaker questions to help you ease into the meeting, whether it’s face-to-face or via Zoom.
If you’re meeting with an external collaborator you outsource specific tasks to, here are a few ideas on how you can break the ice at the beginning of your meeting.
Remote team meetings usually take a few minutes to actually start, but you don’t need to sit in silence while everyone joins and settles in. This is the perfect time to get your team members to relax and prepare for the chat. Before you start with the first item in your agenda, here are a few quick ice-breaker suggestions that don’t take more than five minutes nor require physical presence.
Similarly to team building activities, icebreakers can help build connections among team members. Starting the meeting with the question of the week can set the mood for the rest of the call and allow your team to get to know each other on a more personal level. To make this simple icebreaker inclusive, create a section in your meeting agenda where anyone from the team can add their suggestion for the question of the week prior to the meeting.
A few ideas:
This icebreaker game is well-known, but here’s how you can make it more interesting for teams that have been working together for a long time. Instead of stating two truths and one lie in the first person, have your team members do it for a co-worker. Then, the rest of the team has to guess who this person is and then guess which statement isn’t true. This fun game will ensure a daily dose of laughter and help your team bond.
You’re probably familiar with the “What would you bring to a desert island” game, but try the work edition with your team. Ask your co-workers to share three items they’d bring to a desert island if they had to work from there. The answers might inspire your shopping list the next time you decide to give your home office a makeover. If you don’t want to talk about work, you can choose any other topic: food, books, people, household items, etc.
We’ve already heard all the classic would you rather questions like: would your rather give up chocolate or french fries”? But what about work preferences? This game is perfect for team meetings in which you’ll present new hires so that everyone gets a chance to learn something new about the rest of the group. Here is a list of questions you could ask:
This icebreaker game can also be a great conversation opener for co-workers who know each other well. Each team member gets assigned the name of another co-worker and then has to come up with an acronym for it, but only using words they think describe this co-worker.
For example, if a person’s name is Callie, their colleagues could write Competitive, Ambitious, Loyal, Light-hearted, Intelligent, or Enthusiastic.
When a meeting involves a small group of people, it’s easier to ensure everyone gets to interact with each other. You’re also likely to have more time at your disposal, which means you can unlock your creativity and come up with unique games and activities to boost your energy before the meeting. Here are a few of our favorite icebreakers for small teams.
ChatGPT is the hottest topic nowadays, so why not use it to have fun with your team? You can ask the tool to write a poem about your team or a team member. You can divide the team into pairs and organize a competition for the best movie pitch based on specific prompts, with your co-workers as the main characters. This guarantees lots of laughter, so you can be sure the meeting will continue in the same manner. If showcasing your team on social media is aligned with your company culture, you can even share the poem or movie pitch on your company profile.
Pictionary might be challenging to play in big groups, but a quick round of drawing on a whiteboard in teams of two can work well. If some team members join virtually, they can use a virtual whiteboard available in tools like Google Meet and easily play the game with the team on-site. You get bonus points for drawing and guessing work-related or company-related terms!
Here’s another good icebreaker suitable for hybrid teams. On-site meeting participants can use sheets of paper, while team members joining remotely can use an empty Google doc or a virtual whiteboard. The goal of brainstorming activities is to give your team a prompt to get their creative juices flowing and let them work on developing an idea around it for a specific amount of time. You can carry this out in pairs or individually, but either way, brainstorming will activate everyone’s problem-solving mode, so new strategies and ideas may emerge during the meeting.
Large group meetings can also start with amusing icebreaker activities. For easier management, you can divide the team into smaller groups. To incentivize participation and dedication, you can announce a reward for a team that comes up with the best solution. If you’re running a big group meeting, make sure you act as a facilitator or designate another team member to have this role to make sure everyone understands and follows the rules of the activity.
Here are a few quick games you can play before diving into your meeting agenda.
A scavenger hunt can be organized virtually, which makes it perfect for hybrid teams. Whether they’re participating in person or from home, your team members will be using their computers to find the items from the list you’ll provide. These items can be some random facts like: “What’s the deadliest animal in Australia?” or something work-related, like: “A blog post on [insert topic that’s important in your industry]”. The team that finishes first gets a symbolic reward!
Not all activities need to make your team laugh, but they should definitely make everyone feel good and motivated. This is why sharing your co-workers’ wins is a great way to start a meeting. Have a team member start the round by sharing one thing they achieved in the previous week that they’re proud of. The next person should congratulate them and share their own win. Repeat until everyone has had a chance to share their accomplishments.
The more people are involved in this quick icebreaker game, the funnier it will be. You can start by asking one of your co-workers a question starting with “Have you ever...” but make sure the topic is work-related to make the game relevant and fun. Here are a few ideas:
What’s a better way to boost your team’s mood than playing some music? Have your team prepare YouTube or Spotify on their phones so they can play different songs as response to your questions. Ask things like:
If you haven’t heard of the marshmallow challenge, here’s a brief explanation. It’s a design thinking activity that involves building the tallest free-standing structure possible with only marshmallows and spaghetti. The challenge was created by Tom Wujec, a business visualization expert, as a way to encourage innovation and creativity in teams.
The challenge typically involves teams of 4-6 people who are given 18 minutes to build a structure using 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of tape, a yard of string, and a single marshmallow. The marshmallow must be placed at the top of the structure, and the team with the tallest structure at the end of the time limit wins.
The challenge is designed to encourage collaboration, communication, and creative problem-solving, as teams must work together to come up with a design and execute it quickly. It also highlights the importance of prototyping and testing, as teams often need to try multiple designs before they find one that works.
This game can easily be played outdoors, but you’ll need as many tables as you have teams.
Get wet! This funny icebreaker should be played in warm weather only because someone is bound to get water spilled on their head at some point.
Create a list of popular songs you believe most people know and divide them into several levels based on popularity. Have your team members take the “hot seat” one by one and start singing or simply telling the lyrics of the easy-level songs. When you stop, the person sitting in the chair should finish the lyrics. If they can’t, they get a water balloon tossed on their head!
We only recommend this game if no team members had visited a hair salon before the meeting.
Charades are another classic, but this game is undoubtedly more fun when played outdoors. There’s enough space for your team members to be as creative as necessary to explain their word, movie, book, object, TV show. You can have themed charades or imitate each other, while other co-workers must guess who’s being imitated.
You can divide the team into smaller groups for this game or have them play it individually, depending on the team size.
If you’ve already gone through all the virtual icebreaker ideas, maybe it’s time to tap into the on-site ones. Don’t let the fact that you don’t have an office stop you: Gable has a solution.
Gable helps you book, manage, and ensure maximum use of flexible workspaces no matter where your distributed team is. Organizing hybrid and in-person meetings doesn’t need to be an administrative and logistics nightmare anymore. You can now make on-site team gatherings happen in just a few clicks.
Learn how sourcing and booking flexible office spaces works with Gable.
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