Don’t let distance get in the way of bringing your team together
Virtual icebreakers are mini team-building exercises that help us get to know our remote colleagues. They’re quick and fun questions, intended to lighten the mood, spark conversation, and get everybody talking and participating from the very get-go.
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Why use icebreakers for virtual teams?
Icebreakers are useful for a variety of reasons:
- They create an opportunity for everyone to speak at the start of the meeting, which, science shows, greatly increases the chances of everyone speaking up again DURING the meeting.
- They give you insight into your teammates’ personalities or moods.
- Over time, icebreakers can help you get to know people and add a layer of fun that helps the team bond in a very unique way. Suddenly “Bob from engineering” is “Bob from engineering whose favorite food is pizza, whose favorite smell is the rain and who wants to build a canoe.”
Although virtual icebreakers can be a lot of fun, they’re not appropriate for every meeting. It’s important that you identify your audience first.
Types of Virtual icebreakers
CHECK IN PROTOCOL
The Jim and Michele McCarthy check-in protocol allows meeting participant to say how he or she is feeling, e.g. “I feel one or more of mad, sad, glad, or afraid.” Or my traffic light is “red, yellow, or green”. Anything that indicates how someone might be feeling.
There are a variety of personality tests that can give you insight into how each personality operates.
- Myers & Briggs uses four psychological preferences to analyze personality.
- How to Fascinate shows what strengths you would use to market yourself.
- WorkStyle is an online tool that measures employees’ personalities and then generates profiles for each employee and the team as a whole.
VIRTUAL TEAM ICEBREAKER QUESTIONS
If you’re looking for a fun way to start a remote meeting, try any of the following icebreaker questions (listed in no particular order):
- Tell us about a favorite moment of [insert any time frame]?
- What was your first job?
- What is your favorite food? Drink?
- Where is your favorite place to go on vacation?
- Do you have a favorite smell?
- Have you got any pets?
- What is your favorite color?
- Show your home on google maps and describe your environment: do you live near the city center? A park? A climbing gym? (courtesy of Morgan Legge)
- What is your favorite movie?
- Do you have a favorite music group, era or album?
- When I dance I look like _______.
- Share a favorite memory that includes food (courtesy of Sarah Baca)
- Is there a story about your name? (courtesy of Dr. Clue)
- Take a picture from your window and have people guess where you are.
- Show any photo from your life and tell the story behind it.
- Make it ok if someone doesn’t want to participate. Allow people to opt out if they want to.
- Stay positive. Steer clear of questions that have a negative slant to them.
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Graphic design by Alfred Boland