Video conferencing isn’t exactly new, but the technology today is a lot more lean and agile compared to the old days.
Employees rarely need anything more than their laptops to hold virtual meetings, which is great as more folks take advantage of remote work policies. But as more and more people fire up their web cameras to collaborate, teams sometimes struggle to connect on a personal level. That’s where icebreakers for video conference meetings come in.
Need help understanding if remote work is right for your business? We created The Flock Guide to Building Great Remote Teams with leaders in mind.
Why use icebreakers in virtual meetings
Icebreakers are simple games for people to get to know each other. In virtual meetings, formal icebreakers are more effective than a blanket opening question like “how was your weekend?” because they are designed to allow everyone to speak. Folks who dial in via video conference often have a hard time interjecting during a team conversation, so icebreakers give them the space to make themselves heard from the start. They also remind people who are meeting in a room to remember their colleagues who are dialing in.
We’ve rounded up 5 recommended meeting icebreakers for you to use in your next virtual or in-person meeting:
- Two Truths and One Lie
- Sharing Three Feelings
- Six-Word Memoirs
- Show Us Your “X”
- Question of the Week
1. Two Truths and One Lie
Two Lies and One Truth is a popular icebreaker that gives people a chance to share things that they otherwise wouldn’t with colleagues. You may discover a colleague speaks another language, lived in a different country, is an expert scuba diver, or just an excellent liar! The interactive nature of the icebreaker makes it a crowd-pleaser.
Just note: give introverted folks on your team early notice so they have the option to come up with their lies and a truth in advance.
2. Share Three Feelings
Share Three Feelings requires an environment of psychological safety. This icebreaker is recommended for team meetings where people know each other well. Using this icebreaker in a meeting with mostly strangers is not recommended.
The practice is self explanatory: each attendee shares how they are feeling during that particular moment: Tired? Stressed? Happy? Motivated? Managers should pay attention to what people share: if everyone is happy and peppy, it may be a sign that there isn’t enough radical candor in your team where people feel like they can be honest. Likewise, if everyone is run down and stressed, it’s a sign for managers to step in and assess what is happening in the team and how they can help boost morale or offer support.
3. Six-Word Memoirs
I learned about Six-Word Memoirs from Sophia Bernazzani from Owl Labs, a company dedicated to making virtual meetings seamless. This icebreaker forces people to distill who they are with just six words. You’ll learn what matters most to your teammates. For example, Harry Potter’s Six-Word Memoir could read: “Friendship gives you bravery and hope”.
HubSpot’s Lisa Edwards suggests making the Six-Word Memoir interactive by having the team submit their memoir in anonymously and the group can guess who wrote each summary. Like Two Truths and One Lie, you should give your meeting attendees advance notice so they can come up with their Six-Word Memoir.
4. Show Us Your “X”
“Show Us Your X” allows people to share their remote set up and works well for meetings where all attendees are fully on video conference. You can ask folks to show their desks, their current view, or even pictures of their pets, family, or most recent vacation photo. This is especially useful for larger meetings where there isn’t enough time to devote to in-depth conversation.
5. A Question of the Week
We have a Question of the Week channel here at Flock, where we have teams dispersed in three physical offices and many folks opt to work from home. Every week, a new person asks a question of the day. Questions have ranged from people’s favorite foods, a lifelong dream that they put aside, or the superpower they’d want most (interestingly, many people cited the powers of famous villains!). This icebreaker allows people’s personalities to shine through and is different every time. It can be used in virtual meetings or through messaging apps like Flock.
A Question of the Week at Flock (who's team Dark Mode?)
All teams benefit from icebreakers
Icebreakers are most valuable when separate teams come together to collaborate on a project or initiative. Teams work better when there is trust and rapport. Small as they may be, icebreakers allow for moments of sharing which add to team dynamics.
Teams who’ve long worked together can still benefit from creative icebreakers to help get beyond surface level conversation. In today’s workplace, where many encourage employees to bring their whole selves to work, icebreakers are particularly effective in helping teammates get to know each other.
What icebreakers do you like to use in your virtual meetings? Let us know in the comments section.
This post was updated in January 2020 with new information.