The Art of the Virtual Icebreaker

Virtual icebreakers can help your team or group connect; however, they can also help build trust, camaraderie, and confidence among participants.

What do you think of when we say “virtual icebreaker”? Awkward disclosures of personal information? A total waste of time? An introvert’s worst nightmare? Virtual icebreakers often get a bad rap – and sometimes rightfully so – but when they’re done well, they can provide the conversational catalyst needed to spice up any virtual meeting.

Virtual icebreakers are an art form. They require creativity and good taste. And like any masterpiece, the beauty of the icebreaker is highly subjective. (Let’s be honest, you probably can’t please everyone.) So, how do you strike that perfect balance between exciting, but not over-the-line? Spontaneous, yet organized? Funny, but in good taste? We’re here to break it down for you. With our help, you’ll be the Van Gogh of the virtual icebreaker in no time.

Historically, the term “break the ice” referred to the literal act of ships breaking arctic ice to explore unknown waters or forging a path for others to follow. While the term has evolved to its current meaning — a conversation starter — the usage basically means the same thing: to start or forge something new. Such is a virtual icebreaker — forging a new relationship through conversation. Isn’t history fun?

A Little Dose of History For Ya

Let’s get this party started.

A virtual icebreaker doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as requiring guests to answer an icebreaker question before entering the room.

While the icebreaker method itself is simple, the icebreaker question shouldn’t be. Have you ever started a virtual meeting with a round of “state your name and where you’re from”? You can almost hear the collective groan around the room. A trite icebreaker question can really suck the energy out of a meeting quickly. Instead, consider some more intriguing alternatives, like:

  • If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
  • What’s your spirit animal? (Whale shark, by the way.)
  • How long would you last in a zombie apocalypse?

Once all responses are collected, have everyone explain his or her response one by one or play a guessing game, where other guests try to guess whose response is whose.

Not only will an interesting icebreaker question kickstart some fascinating conversation, but it can also help build trust, camaraderie, and confidence among participants who may not otherwise speak up.

A few more virtual icebreaker ideas:

  • Solve a riddle. Before a group video call, ask guests to present their favorite riddle using the icebreaker question. Break attendees into circles with a different riddle for each group to solve. Allow guests to venture into other circles where they think they’ll be most useful.
  • Would you rather? As a slight variation to the open-ended icebreaker question, ask guests a “would you rather” question before they enter the room, such as “Would you rather talk like Yoda or breathe like Darth Vader for the rest of your life?”. Upon entry, ask guests to elaborate on their reasoning.
  • Virtual scavenger hunt. For this icebreaker question, ask guests to name one everyday household item. Once everyone is on the call, share the list of common household items for guests to collect. The first person to make it back to the virtual room with all the scavenger hunt items in hand wins.
  • Virtual desk tour. Before entering the room, ask guests to name the most interesting item on their desk or within their sight. Once on the video call, ask guests to channel their inner tour guides by giving 60-second tours of their workspace and immediate surroundings. It sounds simple, but the conversations and personal information that can arise from this simple exercise can be quite fascinating.
  • Trivia. To prep guests for this activity, ask a starter trivia question using the icebreaker question so participants can start flexing their trivia muscles. Anyone who gets the trivia question right, gets a prize. Then, break guests into groups and read a list of trivia questions aloud for each group to answer. Each correct answer earns the group one point. The group with the most points at the end of the game also wins a prize. (The group with the least points still probably had fun.)  
It's easy to create breakout groups (aka: circles) on Wonder.

We've Got You!

Go forth and break that ice.

A fun icebreaker activity can change your guests’ mindsets from “ugh, not another icebreaker” to “huh, that was kinda entertaining.” Bye bye boring, ol’ surface-level conversations, and hello detailed breakdown of zombie apocalypse survival scenarios!

Conversation: started.

Team Wonder

Psst... Have any other fun virtual games to share? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

The Art of the Virtual Icebreaker