Finding the Best Virtual Ice Breakers for Your Team Meetings
Virtual ice breakers can make or break your online meetings. Here are some tips from experts on how to utilize virtual ice breakers for your organization.
One of the most essential issues any manager of a remote team must solve is how to effectively build trust and camaraderie between remote employees. How can you connect two or more people who may never meet in the same room? One incredibly effective way to foster communication and engender a sense of community between remote coworkers is to incorporate good virtual ice breakers into your virtual team meetings.
Virtual ice breakers can break down perceived barriers between coworkers and increase communication throughout your team. Remote teams don’t have a water cooler to gather around, so some remote employees may find it more difficult to get to learn about their coworkers’ lives outside of work.
Bridging that gap in communication over the digital divide will prove to be beneficial to any virtual office, and that’s exactly where virtual ice breakers can provide solutions. Virtual ice breakers build camaraderie between peers who may never physically see each other. Additionally, virtual ice breakers and other fun virtual games can help establish trust and open lines of thoughtful communication between coworkers, management and ownership.
And don’t worry, virtual ice breakers don’t have to be forced and awkward! Listed below are a few tips to keep your virtual ice breakers playful and casual, while remaining helpful towards your overall goal of improving communication between remote employees.
CREATE A VIRTUAL WATER COOLER
One of the most important aspects to setting up good virtual ice breakers for your meetings is an element that is established before a question is even asked. Whether you host your virtual meetings on Zoom, Google, Microsoft or another video conferencing software, setting up a virtual water cooler for your employees can get the conversation flowing before you run any virtual ice breakers.
Let’s face it, meetings sometimes start late. It is unavoidable. Managers may have earlier meetings that run long. Maybe someone gets stuck in traffic. Whatever the reason, a late start for a meeting will occasionally happen. Your team could be waiting 5-10 minutes for the meeting to start. When that happens, you want to provide a venue for your waiting remote team to chat while they wait.
A virtual water cooler allows invited guests to join meetings while waiting for the meeting to begin. Depending on whichever software you use, there are different settings you’ll need to adjust to establish a waiting room that allows guests to communicate with each other.
Beyond software settings, remote team managers have to establish a company culture that encourages communication between team members at these times. Tell your coworkers it is okay to talk about non-work things ahead of meetings, if it is appropriate. Management should lead by example here, when applicable.
It is important to note that these aren’t virtual ice breakers, but quick and casual discussions designed to grease the wheels, so to speak. The simple step of creating a digital water cooler space prior to meetings will go a long way in preparing your virtual team to feel comfortable opening up.
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IDENTIFY YOUR VIRTUAL ICE BREAKER GOALS
A perfect way to kick off any meeting or virtual party, virtual ice breakers help to immediately connect your guests and contribute to a more social environment. Virtual ice breakers can help engender a stronger sense of community in a remote team and contribute to interaction between guests, whether you are hosting a quarterly meeting or throwing a celebratory virtual happy hour.
Virtual ice breakers should typically happen at the beginning of virtual events. Further, an ice breaker should be quick and casual—don’t hold your team hostage trying to answer something about themselves.
“Keeping things structured will definitely help you organize a game for a large group,” said Emily Cacchione, a Virtual Event Planner with Unboxed Experiences. “Planning your ice breakers will make it easier to keep things on-track while still keeping your group engaged.”
It is also important to identify the goal of your virtual ice breaker. Do you want to strengthen a sense of community between your team members? Are you hoping to use the ice breaker as a catalyst to get your guests to interact with one another? Consider what you want to achieve with the virtual ice breaker before your meeting or virtual party starts.
Also, consider the amount of time it will take to finish a virtual ice breaker across your group. If you have more than 20 guests attending your virtual happy hour, it probably isn’t the best idea to go around and have everyone share a fact about themselves, as that could take up too large a chunk of time.
FINDING THE RIGHT VIRTUAL ICE BREAKERS
Once you have established the goal of your virtual ice breakers, as well as the logistics of how much time to spend on them, you can turn to selecting the right virtual ice breaker to play with your team. There are several virtual ice breaker ideas that are easy to execute and can help connect your guests before your virtual happy hour starts.
The virtual ice breaker game ‘What, where, when?’ is a good way to learn more about guests by asking questions such as, ‘What is the last show you binge watched?’ or ‘Where is the last fancy restaurant you visited?’. There is no limit to the variety of questions you can brainstorm. Try going off the board with some of the questions to pry amusing answers out of your team. Ask someone “What was your favorite toy as a child?” or “When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?”.
Two truths and a lie is another fun way to get guests to engage with one another, though it is best suited for small groups. The game is simple: everyone on the call must write down two truths about themselves, as well as something fictional. After sharing all three things an employee has written down, it is up to the rest of your team to correctly guess the lie.
You can build themes for two truths and a lie to help your team think of their life facts more quickly. For example, ask employees to write down two truths and a lie about their personal history playing sports or about their hobbies. Other themes could revolve around family members or arts and entertainment. The possibilities are limitless!
For very large groups, a great virtual ice breaker is asking everyone to comment where they are logging in from. Your guests may be surprised to learn they live in the same city!
Virtual ice breakers aren’t necessarily mandatory for every virtual happy hour or online meeting, but they do present an effective way to encourage participation and interaction between guests.
BOOK A COOL TREAT FOR YOUR TEAM
If you’re looking to throw an entertaining meeting for your team full of fun virtual ice breakers and party games, the Ice Cream Float Experience from Unboxed Experiences is a great option to explore.
The Ice Cream Float Experience is a fun, 30-minute virtual event led by an energetic live event host. Unboxed Experiences’ experienced hosts do a great job getting your remote team to open up and communicate with each other in a low-pressure (but highly energetic) environment. During this lively event, you and your guests will learn how to make handmade ice cream before crafting your own personal ice cream floats.
Each of your guests will get an Ice Cream Experience Kit delivered to their home prior to the event. These kits contain everything needed to make ice cream floats from the comforts of your own kitchen, including the cream, flavorings and craft sodas. This virtual event is enjoyed from the comforts of your own home, setting up an environment where you and your guests can comfortably participate in ice breakers, games and, best of all, crafting delicious ice cream.
And best of all, the Unboxed Experiences team will take care of all the logistics! You don’t have to worry about finding and setting up virtual ice breaker questions or planning online group games. The live event host leading your event will lead all of the activities, so everyone in your group can sit back, enjoy the event and focus on mingling.
Contact the Unboxed Experiences team today to learn more about how the Ice Cream Float Experience can provide a solution for your virtual team goals.
FUN VIRTUAL GAMES
After you get some virtual ice breakers out of the way, there are several fun online team games to play with your team to keep the party going! Playing online team games keeps people engaged throughout the length of your virtual party, meeting or conference. Online team games are another great way to build connections in a relaxed atmosphere.
Similar to virtual ice breakers, some virtual happy hour games can really work to take your virtual happy hour or meeting over the top. There is a lot of versatility in how you can roll out virtual happy hour games throughout your event, and what kind of online team games you can run to make your virtual party a success.
Because of the continued development of the online office environment, there are now great online group games to play, as well as platforms that host online games.
Again, consider the goal of whatever online group games you want to include in your virtual event. If you are throwing a virtual happy hour to celebrate a new hire, it is probably best to keep your games low in number and short in nature so your guests can interact with the individual being celebrated. On the other hand, if you’re throwing a virtual party to celebrate a big milestone, online group games could be a great way to keep the spirits up.
Regardless of your group size, running some virtual party games will add structure to your online event.
“Virtual games are a great and easy way to get people together online. Games like virtual escape rooms, trivia sessions, murder mystery parties or even virtual poker are super simple to set up and are guaranteed to bring the fun,” said Corrie Purvis, a Virtual Event Planner at Unboxed Experiences.
One great game to keep your guests engaged throughout a virtual party is to run a scavenger hunt. Build a list of items that may be found throughout your guests’ living spaces—musical instruments, pets and sports equipment to name a few—and have your guests show the party for points.
Playing charades online has also become a popular game during virtual parties. This game works the same way as regular charades, where one guest must mimic a phrase or celebrity while other guests work together to guess the correct answer. What a way to build communication skills in your team!
Running trivia games is another great online group game for your virtual meeting, especially if you can recreate the feeling of “pub trivia” during your event. There are now multiple apps and websites that hosts can utilize to run trivia games during virtual parties. Virtual trivia can further be customized and themed for your virtual events, so you can build questions based on your own organization.
There is no shortage of work-appropriate online group games to play, and there are an increasing number of apps and platforms available to make the games easier to play during your party. Remember to run online group games that fit into the goals of your virtual event and find games that work with the number of guests at your virtual party.
Virtual ice breakers are a necessary component of digital team meetings and parties for any remote team. These ice breakers and games will increase dialogue and open lines of communication between your remote coworkers, from ownership to managers to team members.
Before running any virtual ice breakers, it is important to first establish a virtual water cooler of sorts to encourage your team to talk casually to one another. Try opening your virtual meeting a few minutes early or give your team a couple of minutes to chat with one another to get everyone socially active.
Also prior to playing virtual ice breakers with your team, identify what you want to achieve with them. Are you introducing new team members? Do you want to build stronger connections inside a department? Identifying your goals will help you select the appropriate virtual ice breaker for your virtual meeting or virtual party.
Once you identify your goals, choosing a virtual ice breaker is easy! Select from a few different games based on your goals and time constraints, and then brainstorm fun questions to get to know your team a little better.
After you run your virtual ice breakers, why not keep the fun going? Try playing some fun online group games with your team during a party or meeting. Some games can establish stronger team bonds, while others allow individuals to express themselves openly.
Virtual ice breakers should always be fun and casual, regardless of the setting. These games will create common links between team members and open lines of communication. Always think about how you can include virtual ice breakers in your next team meeting!
To plan an unforgettable online event with your team or clients, contact Unboxed Experiences. We have more than a decade of combined experience running unique events that combine hands-on elements, customizable kits, charismatic and knowledgeable live event hosts and unmatched customer service.