Team meetings are an essential part of encouraging collaboration and building strong relationships and rapport within a group, especially when working in remote teams. However, they are not always welcome, and people can feel overwhelmed by too many meetings in their calendar. It’s not uncommon for team members to feel a bit reserved or disconnected at the start of a meeting, as they rush from one commitment to the next with no breaks. That’s where icebreakers come in.
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What makes a successful icebreaker?
Icebreakers are engaging team building activities designed to break down barriers, encourage interaction, and create a positive and inclusive atmosphere. They have the opportunity to connect, and stimulate more personal conversations beyond the small talk, setting the tone for the discussion, and the way that you want people to think about the topic of the meeting.
They can also play an important role in disrupting the busyness and bring people mentally and emotionally into the room from their previous interactions. Importantly in virtual meetings, they also require attention to be involved, so can be helpful to stop distractions and people multitasking.
Finally good icebreakers for team meetings also can create the opportunity to stimulate creativity and start generating ideas in a light-hearted, playful and pattern-breaking way.
Successful icebreakers are short, easy to explain and do, and take only 5-10 minutes. They are about breaking the ice, and we also like to think of them as connecting and warming up people to the topic by bringing fresh and new energy to the room.
Creating inclusive icebreakers for multicultural teams
As you consider the right activity for your next meeting, take into account the cultural diversity of your team and how they like to communicate and interact with each other. You want to encourage participation without making people feel uncomfortable or appealing to only those with specific communication styles. Tap into your cultural intelligence and choose an activity that is inclusive for everyone, not only the loudest, most expressive or confident team members.
Here we explore 10 creative and fun icebreaker games that can add a spark to your team meetings, whether they are in person or meeting virtually.
Icebreaker activities for virtual meetings
1. Two Truths and One Lie:
A classic icebreaker, Two Truths and One Lie encourages team members to share interesting facts about themselves. Each person states three statements about themselves, two of which are true, and one that is false. The rest of the group tries to guess which is the lie. This activity encourages active listening, sparks conversation, and helps team members get to know each other better.
2. One Word Game:
To kickstart creativity and set the tone for the meeting, ask each team member to describe themselves or their own culture in one word. You can either ask people to enter these words into the chat, or write them on sheets of paper they hold up to the screen. This simple yet effective icebreaker helps generate discussion, provides insights into how individuals perceive themselves and builds the cultural awareness in the team. You can adapt this activity by asking people to show how they feel today in an emoji.
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3. Stranded on a Desert Island:
This good icebreaker allows team members to showcase their personal preferences and stimulate interesting conversations. Ask each person to share what book, song, food, or item they would bring if they were stranded on a desert island. It provides a glimpse into their interests and can lead to surprising connections and discovery of common ground.
4. Conversation Starters:
Conversation starters are quick and easy icebreakers that get people talking and sharing. Pose interesting icebreaker questions such as, “If you could host a dinner party with any three celebrities, dead or alive, who would you invite?”, or “What is your hidden talent?”. These prompts encourage individual expression and create opportunities for team members to find common interests. Other great questions could be:
- Would you rather get £1,000 a week for the rest of your life or £1 million right now?
- Who is your favorite superhero and why?
- Where is your favorite place in the world?
- If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
- When you were a child, what did you want to do when you were grown up?
- Where in the world would you like to visit next?
- If you had a time machine, which era would you go to and why?
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5. Caption This:
Inject some creativity and humour into your meeting by playing this game. Share on screen some funny or thought-provoking images that you have prepared in advance, and ask team members to come up with captions for each image. This activity is a great way to lighten the mood and generate laughter.
6. Meet My Pet:
If team members have pets, this icebreaker is an instant hit. Invite everyone to share pictures or videos of their pets and take turns introducing them to the group. It brings a sense of joy, encourages storytelling, and provides a glimpse into the personal lives of team members. If people don’t have pets, they can share their imaginary one, or even the pet they wish they had!
Icebreaker activities for in person meetings
7. Map the Team:
Show a map and ask the team to place one pin in the place they were born, and other pins in any other places which they consider important cultural influences to them personally. The completed map is a great icebreaker to explore the diversity of your multicultural team and start conversations about culture, a way to build the team’s cultural intelligence.
8. Scavenger Hunt:
Perfect for in person meetings, a scavenger hunt adds an element of excitement and teamwork. Create a list of items or clues on a piece of paper that team members need to find around the office or in the meeting space. Split the team into small groups, and the first group to find all the items wins. This promotes team collaboration, problem solving, communication, and an exploration of the meeting space.
9. Guess Who?:
This ice breaker encourages team members to discover interesting facts about their colleagues. Ask each person to write down a random fact about themselves that others are unlikely to know. Collect the facts and read them aloud, challenging the group to guess who each fact belongs to. It promotes active listening, observation skills, and team bonding.
10. Show and Tell:
A twist on the activity you might have done at school, this allows team members to share something personal, meaningful or special to them. Set a theme beforehand, such as “your most important possession” or “something that makes you smile.” Each person takes a turn sharing their chosen object and its significance, sparking meaningful conversations and connections.
Ice breakers are invaluable tools for creating a positive and engaging atmosphere in team meetings. Whether in person or virtual, these 10 creative and fun icebreakers offer opportunities for team members to connect, build relationships, and create a sense of camaraderie.
By incorporating these activities into your meetings, you will break down barriers, ignite creativity, and set the stage for productive and collaborative discussions. This will not only improve team bonding, but also can have far reaching impacts on your company culture. So, the next time you gather your team, don’t forget to break the ice and create a vibrant and inclusive meeting environment.