We’ve all been there – the start of a virtual or hybrid meeting where there’s an awkward silence. But this can be a thing of the past when you introduce the humble icebreaker to get people talking and loosen them up.
Our list of 35 different virtual icebreakers and team-building activities for 2023 have all been tried, tested, and enjoyed by team Slido – even by the introverts among us.
We’ll enlighten you first on what exactly a virtual icebreaker is, and why it’s good to have one on hand for your next meeting.
What are virtual icebreakers?
Virtual icebreakers are small interactive activities that are used to lighten the mood, typically at the start of a meeting.
They are great conversation starters – they help energize people, drive lively discussions, and encourage the participants to be more active throughout the meeting.
With online and hybrid meetings, virtual icebreakers can help make your video conference call more personal and allow your colleagues to get to know each other better and enjoy some social time.
From quick icebreaker questions to longer ice-breaking games – pick your favorite ones!
- Quick icebreaker questions
- Short virtual icebreaker activities
- Icebreaker games & Team building activities
1. Quick virtual icebreaker questions
These are great rapid-fire questions to energize your participants and kick-start a conversation.
#1. Mood barometer: How are you feeling today?
The classic “So, how are you folks doing?” usually gets you only a couple of reluctant answers. Ask your team how they are in a different way this time – try it with a poll.
For example, check the overall energy in the room by running a rating poll such as: “On a scale of 1-7, how are you feeling today?” Or, “What’s your energy level today?”
Everyone can contribute and so you’ll take an instant pulse check on how everyone is feeling before the meeting.
Use the poll results as a discussion starter: “I can see that not everyone is feeling at their best. Does anyone want to share their thoughts?”
Create your own poll in Slido and engage your audience.
Sign up below and try it for yourself.
#2. Would you rather…?
A would you rather virtual icebreaker question is guaranteed to spark a lively discussion at the start of your meeting.
Simply ask your participants a thought-provoking ‘this or that’ poll question with two options to choose from. Then, drive a discussion around how people voted and why.
Here are some of our favorite would you rather questions:
- Would you live in the Arctic or in the Sahara Desert?
- Would you rather be always overdressed or underdressed?
- Have 2 meter long legs or 2 meter long arms?
- Time travel back to the past or to the future?
#3. Quiz question of the day
Or, why don’t you start with a little guessing game? Everyone loves quizzes and so a little brain teaser at the beginning of your meeting will perk your colleagues up.
This is an ideal virtual icebreaker for recurring meetings. If you and your team meet regularly, you can turn this into a tradition and run one quiz question at the start of every one of your meetings.
How to pull this off?
What’s more, you don’t even have to think up quiz questions. Our ‘magic cube’ random question generator will do that for you.
#4. Where are you joining from?
If your teammates are scattered around the world, kick off your meeting by sending a virtual hi to each one of them.
At the beginning of your conference call, run a word cloud with the question: “Where are you joining from?”
This is one of the best virtual icebreakers for large meetings or virtual events – the more locations, the better the word cloud will look.
As your colleagues post their locations, give them a special shout-out.
You’ll even be able to see if participants are still typing or not with Slido’s typing indicator feature when you’re in present mode – so that everyone gets their chance to participate before you move on.
#5. In one word, how would you describe…?
You can also use word clouds to pick up your team’s thoughts and feelings. Open your meeting with a question such as: “In one word, how would you describe the past week/month?”
This is one of the virtual icebreakers that will help you take a pulse check of the overall atmosphere in the team and detect possible downturns – especially handy in a virtual setup.
Or, you can even try something different like: “If you were to describe our company in one word, what would it be?”
#6. Good old times
If you need a guaranteed conversation starter, try a question that brings back childhood or teenage years memories – they provide an inexhaustible source of amusement.
You can use word clouds here as well.
- Which was your favorite candy you were hoping to get when trick-or-treating? (A perfect icebreaker to use before Halloween.)
- Which music band was your favorite growing up?
After people submit their answers, ask volunteers to share how they voted and why.
There will be a lot to talk about, maybe even some arguments about which candy or which movie is the best. You’ll start a meeting with some laughs and get your colleagues in a good mood before a meeting.
#7. Rank your favorites
Similar to the previous virtual icebreaker, you can engage people in ranking their favorite things, whether from their childhood or not – the possibilities are endless.
Use a ranking poll question, add as many options as you wish, and let your participants rank them.
Here are some ideas:
- Rank these 90s movies from your most favorite to your least favorite.
- Rank these Christmas movies from a must-watch to the most passable one.
- Rank these Harry Potter movies from the best to your least favorite.
After your participants are done voting, display the chart with the winners and the runner-ups. Expect a lively discussion – people tend to passionately root for their darlings!
#8. Say it with an emoji
Here’s another way to get a sense of how your team members are feeling – let them express it with emojis. For example, at the start of your meeting, ask your colleagues:
“Which emoji best describes your current state of mind?”
You can use a Slido word cloud for that, but instead of words, your participants will submit an emoji. This works best with larger meetings and events when a large number of emojis gets submitted.
Here are some other ideas for emoji icebreakers:
- Describe our team with an emoji.
- Use an emoji to describe your ideal vacation.
- Which emoji do you use most frequently?
This is an ideal virtual icebreaker if you’re looking for a simple activity that anyone can participate in, for example, as you’re waiting for others to join the meeting.
2. Short virtual icebreaker activities
These are great if you want to surprise your participants with a fun little activity and enjoy some bonding time.
#9. Draw your mood
Instead of verbally asking your colleagues how they are at the start of your meeting (which often results in a half-baked ‘fine’, or ‘okay’ here and there), ask them to draw how they are. It’s much more fun and you’ll spark creativity among your colleagues.
During our recent Brand Team meeting, our colleague, Sabine, shared a Zoom Whiteboard with us and asked us to draw our current mood on it. So we channeled our inner Basquiat and came up with something that remotely resembles art. But it was so much fun, we swear!
Note: Are you running your meetings in a hybrid setup? Then make sure that each of your on-site team members joins the video conference from their own device so they can participate in the activity.
#10. Highlight of the month
Here’s a great way to lift people’s spirits. Crowdsource your colleagues’ personal or professional highlights from the last week or month.
Thanks to this virtual icebreaker, you can see what other people have been up to and have experienced, and you can celebrate some of your top moments.
As you kick off your meeting, ask your teammates to post their highlights in an open text poll. Then, display the highlights on the screen, and give a shout-out to each one.
It’s good to remind people of all the remarkable work that they’ve done. For example, in our Slido marketing team, we share highlights as part of our monthly all-marketing meeting.
#11. Unsung heroes
This is not only an icebreaker but a morale booster as well. And we all need that now and then, especially when working in isolation.
Give kudos to the heroes in your team. Kick off your meeting with a word cloud poll such as: “Who was your silent hero this month?”
Acknowledging people for the effort they’re putting in is a wonderful way to start a meeting. Expect lots of hearty “awws”.
#12. What are you thankful for?
This ice-breaking activity is ideal, for instance, before Thanksgiving or as a morale booster during special team meetings.
Ask people to submit what they are grateful for or who from the team they would like to thank.
Then, display people’s submissions on the screen and ask your colleagues to share what they put in and why.
It’s a nice bonding moment and helps you start the meeting on a positive note.
#13. Team photo
A list of virtual icebreakers wouldn’t be complete without a group photo! This one’s as much fun through a video chat as much as it is in real life. And you can repeat it time and time again by taking a different picture each time — make funny faces, bring in your pets, do a crazy gesture, be creative.
Take inspiration from our Customer Care Team!
These photos also make nice content for your social media, internal newsletters, or Slack channels!
#14. Guess whose desk?
Get to know your colleagues a little better, and take a sneak-peek into their home work stations. This virtual icebreaker is a mixture of ‘Guess who?’ and a house tour.
Collect pictures from your colleagues of their desks at home and add them into Slido multiple choice polls with a question: “Can you guess whose desk this is?” and give several options.
Then, once at a meeting, let your colleagues guess away!
#15. Weekend photo contest
A slow start after the weekend? Run a quick weekend photo contest to get your teammates talking. Tell them to share a cool photo from their weekend – for example in a Slack channel.
You can then put people’s names in a Slido multiple choice poll and have your colleagues vote for the best shot!
#16. What’s the last picture that you took?
Similar to the previous virtual icebreaker, this one is probably even more fun: Ask your colleagues to go to their phones, and dig out the last photo that they took. Ask them to either post it to your Slack channel or simply show it to the camera. Then, ask them to share a story behind the picture (if it’s not a secret!).
It’s a sweet little activity to make people talk and get to know one another better.
#17. Random question of the week
Here’s another one from the ‘Get to know your colleagues better’ virtual icebreakers. Set up a new tradition and ask your team one random question each week or month.
- What’s the most useless thing you have in your home?
- What would your superpower be if you had one?
- What one thing should everybody stop doing right now?
- What’s one song or artist that you’re embarrassed to admit you like?
We actually started doing this as a weekly activity in our #random Slack channel. We’ve since learned so many cool new things about one another!
3. Virtual icebreaker games & Team building activities
These are great get-to-know-you games and longer team-building activities that will both entertain and bring the team closer together.
#18. Home scavenger hunt
Get your colleagues out of their chairs. This virtual icebreaker is fun and you’ll all get a chance to move around a little. Give your teammates a little task such as: “You have 25 seconds to fetch something yellow,” or “Get the weirdest thing in your apartment, then bring it back to show us”.
You can even take it a little further and play a full-scale virtual scavenger hunt. We recently played it in our Brand team and it was so much fun. Our colleague, Nadia, gave us 5 minutes to fulfill 20 tasks such as:
- Take a picture of a view from your window and post it to Slack
- Find something smaller than your fingernail
- Bring the softest thing you own
- Change your background to your favorite movie set
- Bring an item that’s older than you are
And on a hunt we went.
When the time was up, we got back together on the call and shared funny stories behind the objects that we brought. We shared some good laughs together!
#19. Team trivia quiz
Using virtual icebreakers during your meetings also helps you get to know your colleagues better.
Try a fun quiz with questions about your team. Collect interesting facts about each team member, then let other colleagues guess away. We’re sure you’ll dig out plenty of fun stuff!
We run this type of quiz when we introduce a new team member, or as a holiday fun activity.
#20. Background challenge
Share some laughs with your teammates on the call. Before your next all-hands or town hall meeting, set a theme and ask your colleagues to pick a virtual background image that, for them, represents it best.
Get creative. Favorite movie scenes, 80’s disco, memes, dream vacation places – the possibilities are endless.
Seeing each other’s backgrounds will break the ice and give you something to talk about during the first minutes of the call.
But virtual backgrounds do more than just entertain. They’re also great for hiding a messy kitchen behind you, or a trespassing family member!
You can also let your colleagues vote for the best background through a Slido poll.
#21. Two truths & one lie
This fun game is great for introducing new colleagues or getting to know each other better. Collect three statements about each of your colleagues – two of them should be true facts and one should be a lie. Tell your colleagues to provide a lie that’s not so obvious so as to make it harder for others to guess.
Don’t forget to ask the person who the poll is about to share at least one story behind the statements.
#22. Struggle sharing
Sharing is caring – and that should apply to both the good and the bad. Similar to sharing highlights (see point #10), it’s important to also give our attention to things that didn’t go so well; things that we can learn from, and move forward together.
It makes for a great team bonding experience.
Depending on the setup you’re in, divide your colleagues into smaller groups (if you’re in an online setup, use breakout rooms) and ask them to discuss their struggles. It can be both professional and personal.
Using an open text poll, encourage your team to share their failure or struggle in Slido as well so that people can see that they’re not alone in being imperfect. You can then regroup and open a discussion about lessons that people learned from their failures.
As a leader, don’t forget to contribute as well. Showing vulnerability is also a form of strength.
#23. Show & Tell
Inspired by the classic kindergarten exercise where kids bring an object to school and describe it to their fellow pupils, show and tell is a great activity for getting to know the team better.
Tell your colleagues to bring an object that has special meaning to them or that is tied to an exciting story. Give each group member 3-5 minutes to tell the rest of the group about it.
This virtual icebreaker is ideal for small teams (or done in groups) because people might not be willing to talk in front of larger crowds of people.
Don’t forget to give people enough time to think about their story and prepare for the short presentation. Not everybody is happy with improvising.
#24. Guess who?
This is another great get-to-know-each-other-better game, inspired by our Head of User Research, Neil Sharman.
In one of the meetings, he asked everyone to anonymously submit into Slido three brands they know they ‘love a bit more than is logical’.
Then, he displayed people’s submissions on the screen and the team guessed who is who just from the three brands. It’s fun to identify people, plus everyone gets to share something about themselves. You’ll definitely learn a lot of interesting stuff about each other.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be about brands. It can be music, hobbies, movies, etc.
#25. Coffee time
Have you heard of Fika? It’s a Swedish word often interpreted as ‘a coffee and cake break’.
For Swedes, however, it is much more than that. It’s about taking a break from everything for a while and enjoying quality time with friends or colleagues over a cup of coffee or tea.
Take Fika to an online environment. You can call it whatever you like – virtual watercooler talks, virtual happy hour – it’s your choice.
But be sure to schedule an informal team catch-up from time to time just to chat with your teammates about something other than work. In remote times, it will help you feel less isolated.
#26. Visual brainstorming
Good productive idea exchanges make for great virtual icebreakers too. Instead of just shouting ideas at each other, try visual brainstorming.
Take advantage of one of the visual collaboration tools such as Mural. We tried it recently during our Brand team meeting and it was an hour well spent – productive, creative, and fun.
We set up a virtual whiteboard, and each of us was supposed to write our ideas on little stickers that we then posted on the board. It nicely simulated a real-life brainstorming session.
#27. Meet up in a virtual bar
If remote work or distributed team setup doesn’t allow you to enjoy an after-work beer with your colleagues, why don’t you go for a virtual alternative?
In our Brand team, we recently tried Kumospace – an immersive video chat that allows you to ‘meet’ your colleagues in a virtual bar (or other space), move around, or create smaller chat groups.
Oh, and don’t forget to get a drink. The app will even remind you when it’s time for a refill!
There are other apps that provide immersive team experiences, for example, Topia. With this one, you can even design your own virtual world. It’s good to have a change of scenery, isn’t it?
#28. Never Have I Ever
While you’re all hanging out together in this virtual bar (see point above), why don’t you play a game? If you’re familiar with Never Have I Ever, you surely know how much fun it is – especially with more juicy questions. It’s simple: Each of you will hold out your hand so everyone can see your fingers.
One of you will read questions such as: “Never have I ever gone skinny dipping.” Whenever one of you has done it, he or she will put one finger down.
This icebreaker activity is awesome for getting to know your colleagues better and have a good laugh together while sharing funny stories behind each finger down!
If you need inspiration for Never Have I Ever questions, find 250 of them here.
#29. Donut friends
When was the last time you randomly bumped into someone in a hallway in your office and shared a good chat with them? Or, had a deep conversation about life, the universe, and everything with a bunch of colleagues in a kitchenette or by the watercooler? Before we can enjoy this again, try Donut.
Donut is an app for Slack that randomly pairs two or three colleagues together for a scheduled video call. You can make use of that time however you like: Have a virtual coffee, a peer learning session, or a chat about a book that you recently read.
The best thing is that it gets you together with teammates with whom you wouldn’t normally talk or interact on a daily basis. Sounds like a nice way to foster new friendships in the workplace, doesn’t it?
#30. Online escape room
Need a full-scale team-building activity? Try a virtual escape room. If you’ve ever experienced the real thing, you surely know that it’s as much fun as it is nerve-wracking! It involves dealing with various challenges, finding codes, and completing puzzles in order to “get out of the room”.
It’s the ultimate team bonding experience – if your teammates love a good game, they’re going to be fans. There are plenty of escape room platforms out there, for example, Escape Live. You can choose from various different session types or themes.
#31. Virtual wine tasting
Even if you’re remote, you don’t have to give up the good old wine or beer-tasting sessions. Sure, it’s a bit harder to pull off in a virtual setting, but not impossible. Just agree on a brand or type – or buy a different wine each, so you can tell each other about the subtle tones you’re getting!
Our People team has recently done a wine-tasting call and it was a great team bonding experience.
It lets you enjoy some informal time with your colleagues, which, amid all the meetings is a nice change. Plus, you get to indulge in some fine beverages, what a treat!
#32. Pair & Share
This is a great virtual icebreaker that allows for more intimate conversations among your teammates. If you’re familiar with breakout rooms, you’ll appreciate this one.
Give your colleagues a thought-provoking question to ponder, then pair them randomly using breakout rooms (check whether your video conferencing tool allows for it).
Next, allow all groups a couple of minutes to discuss the topic before coming back to the main room to share what each pair talked about.
This is a great alternative to the ‘turn to your neighbor’ kind of exercise – it’s interactive, and allows for more in-depth discussion between people. Introverts will appreciate this, as it feels more comfortable to share something in a pair, compared to the whole team.
#33. Online games
Online team-building games are fun and social – they encourage interaction among coworkers and help bring back the camaraderie of a physical office.
The depths of the internet is full of options, but to inspire you, we recently discovered Bored – a suite of Slack games for remote teams. You simply add the tool to your company Slack and play fun games with your colleagues right in the Slack channel.
Apart from the ever-popular game of trivia, Bored has games in which you roast your colleagues, or play a game of accusations and deception. Recently, they launched ‘Icebreakers’ to help teammates get to know each other better by answering questions that are unconventional and fun.
#34. Name that sound
Looking for a more sophisticated guessing game? How about guessing the sounds? This is one of the most challenging virtual icebreakers, but it’s ultimately very satisfying!
It’s simple. You turn your cameras off, leaving only audio on, and then you make some sort of a sound close to the mic so that your colleagues are able to hear it, and guess where it comes from.
Here are the instructions:
#35. Group storytelling
Put your improvisation skills to the test. This virtual icebreaker is inspired by my colleague Sabine, who decided that since our team-building trip couldn’t happen this year, at least we’ll make up a cool story of how it went.
She created a slideshow of random travel pictures, started a story, and then called on one of our teammates to follow up on what she had said, based on what picture was currently up.
We took turns in telling crazy things we did during our imaginary trip and let me tell you, it was some ride!
Ready to break the ice at your meetings?
We hope you’ll try one of these virtual icebreakers at your next online meeting. Let Slido help you connect with your teammates, wherever they are.