We like our Zoom icebreakers the way how we like our pizza— fun, good for sharing, and over in 5 minutes or less.
But first, what exactly are Zoom icebreakers?
Zoom Icebreakers are any virtual activity or question that helps in making remote team members feel comfortable and connect with each other during virtual meetings on Zoom. It can be referred to an actiivty used for "breaking the ice" or "removing the tension" in any group.
Since 2020, the one thing that has been a constant in our lives is the never-ending number of Zoom video calls. They are long, not fun, and bad for our eyes (and souls).
Here's a not-so-fun fact for you. There is a thing called Zoom Anxiety now!
Well, if we are being frank, it's not only Zoom that's bringing the gloom. All video conferencing channels, be it Google Meet, Skype, FaceTime, or other video calling apps, are part of the problem.
As a manager or leader, you can't help but ask your people to join these important Zoom meetings. But what you can do, is to make this experience smoother and less stressful for them.
A List Of Unique Zoom Icebreakers For Virtual Teams Of All Shapes And Sizes
We know that no one likes drawn-out Zoom icebreakers that necessitate the horrors of dressing up or wastes time in an already long Zoom meeting.
Thus, I am sharing this great list of quick Zoom icebreakers that my remote team members and I used extensively in our online meetings. I am optimistic that you (and your team) would grow to love these as much as we do.
1. "What's Your Favorite…." Polls
A great icebreaker is usually fun and easy to engage with. And that's exactly why we love "What's Your Favorite ____" Polls.
Instead of jumping directly into a Zoom team meeting, you can start off by putting up polls about non-work-related topics before the virtual meeting begins.
- If money were not an issue, what would be the best job?
- What breakfast should be named the best breakfast in the world?
- What is the one thing you're looking forward to doing after this meeting is over?
2. Waffles vs. Pancakes!
Basically, you start with waffles vs. pancakes. The following person has to discard one of those for good and replace it with another topic/item/thing.
I played this one with my team at our last meeting, and they absolutely loved it!
So the steps are actually pretty simple.
Step 1: Ask the first team member "Waffles or Pancakes."
Step 2: After giving their answer, ask them to replace one of those items with any other item. For example, "I get rid of waffles and nominate puppies."
Step 3: Then, the next person has to choose between Puppies and Pancakes.
Step 4: After that, they get to replace the current items such as, "I get rid of pancakes and nominate world peace."
Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 until everyone has answered. The final answer will be the winner.
3. Rose, Bud, Thorn
Rose, Bud, Thorn is a great way to bring mindfulness into your usual virtual icebreakers.
- Roses are the positive things and win that you experienced.
- Buds are the new ideas that you're excited to explore.
- Thorns are the obstacles and problems that you faced.
Sharing such personal recollections can really help to stimulate thought and build rapport within the group. Given the fact that remote work can affect peer relationships, this is a much-needed team-building activity.
4. "Work From Home" Fails!
You have probably experienced or done a lot of stupid things since you started working from home. And so have we all.
So, at the start of your Zoom meetings, take a minute to discuss your major fails and invite your remote team members to share theirs. It's certain to make everyone chuckle due to having the shared experience of acting like total fools.
5. Two Truths And A Lie!
Share three sentences about your life, two of which are true and one of which is a lie. Challenge the rest of the team members to identify which one is the lie and to explain how they came to that conclusion.
6. Emoji Of The Day
When words fail, emojis come to the rescue. Ask your remote team members to describe their day so far with an emoji or a string of emojis. It definitely is the easiest and quickest Zoom icebreaker out there.
7. Breakout Rooms!
Virtual Breakout Rooms are ideal for teams that need to brush up on their collaboration, problem-solving, and creative thinking skills.
The idea behind it is simple. Choose an interesting or important topic/problem. Divide the large remote team into smaller groups and ask them to chat, discuss, and pitch their best idea.
Here's what Zoom has to say about virtual breakout rooms:
Breakout rooms allow you to split your Zoom meeting in up to 50 separate sessions. The meeting host can choose to split the participants of the meeting into these separate sessions automatically or manually. Or they can allow participants to select and enter breakout sessions as they please. The host can switch between sessions at any time.
We would recommend breakout rooms for large groups to make the team-building activity more effective.
8. Guess The Acronym
It is a Zoom icebreaker that is specifically tailored to today's world. Each team member proposes an online acronym and challenges the others to guess what it is. The person who has the most correct responses wins.
9. Glows and Grows!
Hold a virtual roundtable and ask each remote team member to talk about the Glows and Grows of their week.
Glows are any positive experience or thing that an individual is proud of. Grows are things that can be improved with a little more focus.
For example, right now, my "Glow" is that I completed my project well ahead of time. And my "Grow" is that I could have communicated better with my team members.
19. Deserted Island
Propose that your remote team respond to the following simple question:
Name five item would you bring with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
Such interactions aim to help connect, bond, find others who share similar interests, and learn what each other values.
11. What Are You Excited About?
The future is brimming with possibilities for good things to happen. It may be an ice cream sundae you've been looking forward to or a visit from your (vaccinated) parents you haven't seen in months. Ask your remote team members to share what they are looking forward to right now.
12. Would You Rather?
"Would You Rather" questions can be a quick and fantastic Zoom icebreaker- only if the questions are good enough (read: controversial). Here are some of our favorites:
- Would you rather eat a Peanut Butter & Pickle sandwich or eat a Peanut Butter & Onion sandwich?
- Would you rather have hiccups for the rest of your life or constantly feel like you have to sneeze?
- Would you rather be surrounded by people who brag all the time or by people who complain all the time?
13. Share A Fact
A fantastic Zoom icebreaker that our team has enjoyed is sharing a fact or thing about ourselves that no one else is aware of. You might be surprised to learn that, despite working together every day, your team probably doesn't know each other very well.
14. What Would You Call It?
This is a fun-tastic game that everyone will surely love.
Choose a word at random and select a team member to suggest what it would be called if it didn't already have a name. They then choose the next player, and it repeats until everyone has had a turn.
15. A Hidden Talent Show
Did you know your manager was a competitive dancer in college? Most likely, no one did. The goal of this Zoom icebreaker is to get participants to share (and even show) their hidden abilities and skills. It's a fantastic chance for people to rediscover their peers in a new light.
16. Funny Virtual Backgrounds
Setting interesting virtual backgrounds on your Zoom sessions is one of the best ways to spice things up and share a laugh. Make it a contest to see who has the most unique screen and reward the person with the most innovative virtual background.
17. Share A Photo!
This is an excellent team-building activity for getting to know your peers on a more personal level.
This virtual icebreaker is as simple as the title says. Look through your phone for a photo that you would really love to share with the team. Then post it on the screen and explain its significance.
Here's a small tip for you. To make it more interesting, you can post a different theme every day. Some good options are favorite books, the best place you traveled to, pictures of your pet, memorable New Year's Eve, and so on.
18. Extreme "Rock Paper Scissors"
It may sound like a child's game, but it's actually rather enjoyable. Begin the game by having a virtual "rock paper scissors" duel between you and another team member.
Whoever is the winner will be able to challenge anybody else on the team. And so forth will the game continue until the final victor emerges!
19. ABC's Of Gratitude
Assign a random alphabet to each team member and ask them to name something- starting with that alphabet- that they are most grateful for.
20. Personality Tests
Online personality tests are very addictive and can turn out to be great conversation-starters.
You can tell your team to take them beforehand to save time or make it more fun by taking it in real-time and getting to see everyone's reaction.
If you want to know, here are some of our favorite free tests:
21. Find That Object!
"Find That Object" is what a virtual scavenger hunt would look like!
Pick a list of small objects and ask your people to find anything that looks like it in their homes. Set a time limit of 5 minutes or less.
The one who collects the maximum number of items wins the game.
22. Bingeworthy TV Shows?
Working from home has increased everyone's (including yours) tendency for binge-watching. So take advantage of this insight and turn it into a fantastic zoom icebreaker.
Ask your team members to recommend an underrated TV show, movie, or documentary that they believe everyone should see at least once in their lives. And no Game of Thrones recommendations, please. We're all aware of how fantastic (and typical) it is.
Riddles and brain teasers are a relatively easy and effective way to get the mental cogs up and running.
Riddles such as, "Walk on the living, they don't even mumble. Walk on the dead, they mutter and grumble. What are they?" will really be the mental boost that your people need.
If you're wondering what the answer is, it's leaves.
24. Story Time!
You can create fantastic stories with this enjoyable team-building activity. Each person will tell a three-sentence tale that ends with the phrase "suddenly..." The person after that must pick up the story and add three sentences of their own, and so forth.
The game begins with you putting forward a basic sentence. The rest of the team members takes a turn in contributing to the story. But the twist is that each statement should alternately begin with "Fortunately" or "Unfortunately."
Consider the following example:
You: I was doing the dishes.
Employee 1: Fortunately, I am about finished with this task.
Employee 2: Unfortunately, I can hear a human voice drifting up from the pipe.
26. Guess That Song?
You can play an audio sample of the opening 3–5 seconds of a song and let any team member guess which song it is. The one to guess the maximum number of songs wins the game.
Alternatively, you can play the song's instrumental version instead if you want to make it a little more competitive.
27. Think Links!
I came across Think Links very recently, and it rightly deserves a spot on the list.
The game is very simple to play. The question that each person (or group) need to answer is:
How would you set up a business or service using the three (random) Think Links cards shown below.
28. Sell It!
"Sell It" is an excellent Zoom icebreaker that will reveal and bring out the inner salesman in your team members.
At the start of the meeting, ask each employee to pick up any nearby object but don't explain why. If they ask, inform them that they will find out shortly.
Explain to each employee that they will now try to sell the item to the other team members once they have it in their hands. They can set the pricing and have one minute to present a sales pitch and one minute to respond to queries.
After all the remote team members have pitched, ask everyone to vote on what they think was the best pitch of all.
29. Play "Taboo"
This is a highly entertaining word guessing game.
Choose a word and some "taboo words" that go with it. Then, send a private message to the team member who will be delivering the verbal cues to the rest of the remote team.
That team member is then given 30 seconds to talk and express the clues to the rest of the group. The catch is that the person is not allowed to say any of the taboo words.
30. Virtual Pictionary
There's a reason why this game is a classic. It's entertaining, and the silly competitiveness is the icing on the cake.
Step 1: Divide the remote team into smaller groups.
Step 2: Designate someone from each team to be in charge of the drawing. Request that the person chooses a word from the dedicated number generator.
Step 3: Suggest that the person utilize the Zoom whiteboard feature.
Step 4: Give the team 1-2 minutes to figure out what the word is. If they are successful, they will receive 1 point.
31. Yes... And
"Yes...and" is a popular improv game that encourages creativity and receptivity to new ideas.
Consider the following example:
You: We're having a party.
Person 2: Yes, and it will be Halloween-themed.
Person 3: Yes, and there is a murderer on the loose.
This list of Zoom icebreakers will undoubtedly provide your remote team with a few minutes of respite amidst a stressful day. Meanwhile, we'd love to hear if you use any of these Zoom icebreakers and how did it work out for your team!