For many of us, the mention of Zoom ice breakers brings a collective groan. Ice breakers seem dated and a bit forced, especially when we just want the meeting to start. There is a benefit to ice breakers, though. Actually, there are several. And there is a way to pull off ice breakers that doesn’t seem dull and time-consuming.
You might wonder how ice breakers work in an age with a rise in remote work. The answer is that just as they worked before, they’re digital only now. With the increased use of digital work platforms, we’ve had to be a bit more creative, but Zoom ice breakers have the same constructs and benefits as face-to-face ice breakers.
In both scenarios, it’s essential to understand the reasoning for the ice breaker and its possible benefits.
What Is Your Reason for Incorporating Zoom Ice Breakers?
It’s not a good idea to add ice breakers simply because you can. They need to make sense. Not only that, but you need to think about why you’re adding the Zoom ice breaker and consider your audience.
The activities should be thought out and prepared in advance. Simply throwing something together at the last minute will only make it seem more contrived. Do you have space for the planned ice breaker? And time?
It’s also important to understand that the best-laid plans don’t always work out. Be flexible and observant enough to know when to stop and move on.
You may want to incorporate a Zoom ice breaker to allow different parts of your business to connect and get to know each other on a social level. In this case, dividing the departments up and not allowing them to stay within their group is key. One of the purposes of the ice breaker is to move away from our normal patterns and learn something new. Yet, we tend to cling to our comfortable groups as much as possible.
In blending departments, you may have heard there are hurt feelings and questions. In this scenario, the decision to include an ice breaker might not be a good starting point. Instead, allowing a more natural introductory period won’t seem like you’re discarding their feelings. Knowing when and where to use ice breakers will make or break their success.
Benefits of Zoom Ice Breakers When Done Correctly
- Provides a friendly and informal climate for participants
- Allows your members to relax and enter with a more positive attitude and outlook
- Helps break up any groups that always seem to congregate together and encourages them to communicate with others
- Creates a non-threatening environment
- Promotes laughter
- Helps decrease any tension that might exist when used at the right time
- Facilitates the introduction process
- Increases communication from the start
- Encourages self-disclosure and self-discovery
Zoom Ice Breakers to Liven the Group
Just the facts: Ask for a fun fact about everyone in the group. It could be something that’s funny or serious. You can leave it general, or you can make it more specific, such as asking the group about their favorite book or to name a hobby they’ve always wanted to try.
Give your meeting a theme: Remember when you would all wear jeans on Fridays? This is the same concept, only ramped up a bit. You can announce that your quarterly Zoom Ice Breaker will be to dress as a sports fan or make the meeting all about the 80s. There are a million themes you can use. You might even give a prize for the best idea.
Background Bonanza: This one was all the rage when Zoom ice breakers first hit out remote work sessions. It’s just as much fun now. Your group can vote on the best background. This allows employees a chance to show a bit of their personalities in the backgrounds they choose.
Blind Drawing: This is a quick and easy one, bound to bring laughter to the group. Ask the members of the meeting to grab a piece of paper and a pen or marker. A pencil might not work as well since the other members of the group will need to see what is drawn. Then, give them a subject. Maybe it’s pets, or foods, whatever you want. Give them one minute to draw the first thing in that topic that comes to mind. The trick is that they need to close their eyes to draw it. When the minute is up, each member can show their drawing and let the group know what it is supposed to be.
Would You Rather: Almost everyone knows how to play “Would You Rather,” and if they don’t – it’s an easy concept. Pick your questions ahead of the Zoom ice breaker and randomly choose them as you go along. You can easily find “Would You Rather” questions online.
Zoom Ice Breaker General Games
Who’s Office Is This?: The day before the meeting, have each member send you pictures of their office. That way, you can crop the pictures if they have identifying images. Once the meeting starts, pick a few to show and ask the members if they can guess whose office it is. Our spaces have a way of defining us and showing a bit of our personalities. It provides good insight to learn more about your co-workers.
Zoom Trivia: Trivia is always fun. And it’s an easy Zoom ice breaker to offer. Whether you want to break the group up into teams or play individually, everyone typically enjoys a good game of trivia.
Name That Tune: This one is easy and fun. Have the members turn off their cameras and play snippets of songs. The first one to turn on the camera gets to guess what the song was. You can also utilize chat for this if you wish.
Scavenger Hunt: Everyone loves a scavenger hunt. Have your list prepared in advance and send the attendees off to find the things on your list, one at a time.
Either Or: Similar to “Would You Rather,” this Zoom ice breaker gets everyone involved in the asking part of things. You can start off by asking one meeting member if they would choose A or B. For instance, would you choose rain or snow? The member would choose one, and then they would move to the next member, using their answer and adding an “or.” An example of this would be if they answered rain, they would then ask the next person if they would choose rain or cats.
Zoom Bingo: Bingo is always a hit, whether you’re in person on virtual. You can send out the bingo cards when the meeting starts, and the game can continue throughout. Add in funny moments like a dog appearing on someone’s screen or someone talking while muted.
Zoom Ice Breakers That Strive to Bring the Group Together
There are the typical ice breakers whose focus is to bring the group together. These involve asking the group to open up and bit and let others get to know them. Depending on personalities, these are the ones that might be a little harder, but it’s all up to the members how open they want to be. As your team bonds, you will find that these icebreakers get better over time once everyone is more familiar with each other.
Rose, Bud, Thorn: For this game, all members come up with three things. The “Rose” are positive things going on in their lives currently. “Buds” are new ideas or new prospects on the horizon, and the “Thorns” are struggles they might be having.
Can you Believe it?: This game lets us be vulnerable and laugh out ourselves. Ask your team members what their “palm to forehead” moment was this week. Did they forget to hit save on a long document or run the dishwasher without dish powder? It doesn’t have to be work-related. It allows everyone the chance to remember we’re all human.
Zoom Ice Breaker Parties
Instead of a few ice breakers spread throughout the meeting, you might advance your Zoom ice breaker to be a full-on game hour for the team. There are games you can play that take up more time, but they also take more preparation. Unless, of course, you’re utilizing an app or website that specializes in virtual ice breakers. These are easy to find online, with most offering a free trial before a subscription.
There are so many options for Zoom ice breakers out there that many friend groups have taken to playing some of these games outside the workspace. It’s a great way to get together with friends who don’t live near us. If there is one thing the pandemic taught us is that there is always a different way to do things, and in some instances, the new ways might be better. Enjoy these ideas, and have fun creating your own. The sky’s the limit on creativity, and your team will have a blast as long as you have a plan.