The 8 best icebreaker tools & ideas for your remote meetings

For the success of a virtual meeting, nothing better than participants who are on the same wavelength. Hence the importance of breaking the ice between them beforehand using efficient icebreakers.

Top 8 icebreaker tools for your remote meetings

If there's anything 2020 has taught us, it's that our lives can change dramatically in a matter of days. The pandemic has not only forced governments to rethink their political strategy or lock us up for months, but it has also forced businesses to adapt.

Therefore, adjusting to a remote or hybrid way of working comes with its challenges. And there are ways not to struggle and to keep your employees engaged with each other. In particular, this adaptation has driven small and large companies to embrace remote work. With the current pandemic not yet over, companies are looking for ways to improve remote working conditions and provide their employees with platforms to improve their efficiency and productivity.

Working remotely has allowed companies to seamlessly continue their business, but it still lacks some of the aspects that working on-site provides. With in-office work, it's easy to create a positive work environment and provide a productive atmosphere because managers can organize fun activities to break the ice and make workers feel comfortable.

When it comes to remote work, it's a little more complicated to create a positive work environment. That's where virtual team building activities come in. They allow virtual teams to develop constructive and friendly working relationships, alleviating the social and emotional isolation that remote workers experience.

This constraint and the need to adapt that it brings is not limited to businesses, it can be extended to training as well. With learners and trainers coming from different backgrounds, and sometimes with very different cultures.

Preparing for a team meeting or training session can be a real challenge. Whether it's for an ideation activity, a project update, or facilitating a team retrospective, it takes a lot of work, both in content and form.

When the meeting arrives, it is only natural that you want to jump right into the thick of it. After all, you want to make the most of every minute.

But did you know that starting the meeting with a 5 to 15-minutes icebreaker will help build a sense of psychological safety within the team? And that as a result, the quality and effectiveness of your meeting will be improved.

Icebreaker questions

For a newly formed virtual team, or a distance learning course with trainers and learners from different cultures, awkwardness can quickly arise, especially during videoconferences. Icebreaker questions are the perfect remedy for this situation. While icebreaker questions are often perceived as stressful, creative questions can be a powerful tool to lighten the mood of your virtual teams.

Icebreaker questions can be used at many different times during a team building event as a work group in a corporate setting, brainstorming sessions, or as an icebreaker, but they are most effective when used at the beginning of the event.

Online events like meetings, training, and brainstorming sessions can be tough when your team isn’t as connected as they could be. Icebreaker tools are a super fun and effective way of easing tension and getting everyone comfortable in remote working environments.

What is an icebreaker?

An icebreaker is great for starting a conversation and getting the energy going before a team activity. It's good to know that not all icebreakers should be directly related to the topic of the meeting.

For example, just because you are embarking on a team retrospective, it doesn't mean you should do an icebreaker that asks you to do some introspection.

When to use this tool?

This type of exercise is interesting to use in many contexts, especially when the participants of an event do not know each other or when it is important to create a good atmosphere.

Icebreakers are thus useful for:

  • Brainstormings;
  • Team meetings;
  • Workshops/training;
  • Team building events in small groups;
  • Group onboardings,...

What type of icebreaker

To know what type of icebreaker will work the best for you, you need to ask yourself if the exercise you are going to do before the official team meeting is aiming at:

  • Inspiring a great energy in your team thanks to a playful moment;
  • Helping you get to know your colleagues better and strengthen the team's ties;
  • Breaking the fatigue due to the succession of several meetings;
  • Strengthening the collaboration skills of each person.

Usefulness of icebreakers

Breaking the ice at the very beginning of a meeting enables you to:

  • Lighten the mood;
  • Put everyone more at ease;
  • Allow participants to better know each other;
  • Quickly connect participants to each other;
  • Foster a good atmosphere within a team/company;
  • Develop a sense of belonging;
  • Induce a more effective collective thinking climate.

The question that arises after having established the principle of the validity of icebreakers for virtual meetings is which ones are the best to use. Let’s take a look into this. 

Some icebreaker examples that can objectively fit any situation

How can you objectively assess the efficiency of an icebreaker? Among the criteria to highlight, we have:

1 - Team awakening creativity icebreaker

One, Two, Three is the one recommended to stimulate exchanges at the beginning of the workshop. To what extent can your team push the limits of their imagination?

This ice-breaker is ideal to stimulate creativity in just a few minutes before starting a group work.

2 - Funny icebreakers

The purpose of an icebreaker is to relax the atmosphere and to facilitate the communion between the participants. And to do this, among the icebreakers recommended for this criterion, there are:

a. A Star is born

In show business, it is common to use a pseudonym. Sophie Maupu, Didier Morville or Farrokh Bulsara have done it, but you probably know them better as Sophie Marceau, Joey Starr and Freddie Mercury. And you, which pseudonym would you choose to shine in the spotlight?

As you can imagine, this technique is far from guaranteeing the most glamorous nickname, but one thing is sure: it has the merit of creating a good mood in the team! Because the group will potentially be populated with personalities named Louis de Funes, Aldo Moro or Diego Maradona.

Use A Star is born template on Klaxoon and start playing in team!

b. The Unicorn

Knowing your unicorn name, you may wonder if it is useful, indeed it is debatable... And yet! Here are at least three situations in which this animation will be beneficial for your teamwork sessions.

  • You are about to launch a creativity brainstorming session, to imagine a new concept, to find a catchy slogan, to design an innovative product... Starting with the template "The Unicorn" puts the group in a situation to imagine whimsical, offbeat things. If your name is Agile Mane, Cosmic Jewel or Intrepid Rainbow, you are bound to be more creative!
  • If the members of the group don't know each other or at least not  very well, using this animation allows to create a connivance, to introduce them to each other at the same time.
  • If the theme of the upcoming workshop is a difficult subject or a somewhat tedious project, this icebreaker adds a touch of lightness so as to help reduce the level of stress related to the topic. The use of the icebreaker "The Unicorn" proves that it is possible to have fun while working and to work in a good mood. Even more, a happy team will be more motivated and efficient.

3 - Icebreaker to get to know your team

A good icebreaker is an icebreaker that allows team members to get to know each other well. As such, here are some of the best you can use:

a. If I were…

With the If I were icebreaker, use analogy to get to know each other. What would you be if you were a city? A dessert? A music track?

To animate and energize the beginning of a workshop, a training or a team meeting, introduce yourself by sharing some aspects of your personality and your tastes. As the group finds some common points with your own answers, the exchanges can begin and the work session can  start with no hassle.

b. Who is who

With the Who's who template, anonymously reveal an aspect of your personality, an unusual thing you've done or a hobby of yours, and let the group guess if this truly defines who you are! Ideal for freeing up the floor at the beginning of a work session and facilitating exchanges.

c. Two truths and a lie

With Klaxoon’s Two truths and lie template, the topics of discussion tend to go outside the professional context, creating a friendly atmosphere within the group.

When team members do not know each other, this activity allows them to discover each other in a fun way. The image each of us has of the others is often accompanied by prejudices inherited from education and experience: this icebreaker has the advantage of shattering these prejudices!

4 - Icebreakers to make a decision

The mood of the members of a team has a definite influence on its ability to make a collective decision. Klaxoon proposes two icebreakers whose goal is to reach these two objectives at once.

a. Team Mood

In a room or remotely, you encourage mutual attention and stimulate exchanges between participants, who discover or rediscover each other. Team Mood is the ideal template to take the temperature of the troops' morale and to put everyone at ease. It is also the right moment to motivate the teams and to follow up with a creative teamwork session.

b. The Adventurers

This one is all about  sharing one's vision of things, listening and understanding the vision of others, but also making concessions for the well-being of the group before thinking about one's own comfort.

The Adventurers is an ideal icebreaker for team members to get to know each other better, in order to work together intelligently despite their different personalities!

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