Working from home can be great – no commute, a comfortable environment, your pets with you at all times. Not so great, though: The awkward moment when a video conference meeting starts and you’re not quite sure what to say to your team. Ice breaker questions for virtual meetings can help with both that and overall engagement during your meetings. We’ll explain why these questions matter below and then provide great example questions.
- Why are virtual ice breakers important?
- The best ice breaker questions
- How to create the best virtual ice breaker
- Free team meeting template
Why are ice breakers especially important for virtual meetings?
Did you know that around seven in 10 remote employees feel disconnected from their colleagues? That disconnect can directly affect engagement, productivity, and motivation. Ice breaker questions for virtual meetings can help you and your team get into the right mood to collaborate.
For remote teams, ice breaker questions can help bridge the social gap left when colleagues don’t see each other in person. They help your team members get to know each other (and you!) much better. And as you know from your own personal life, the better you know someone, the better you pay attention to them. From that base of attention, communication, and engagement, you can lead much more effective meetings.
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The best ice breaker questions for virtual meetings
There are theoretically infinite ice breaker questions for virtual meetings. If that sounds overwhelming, well, it doesn’t have to be. Most ice breaker questions can be grouped into six broad categories, each of which has its own time and place. We’ll get into these categories – and provide a bunch of examples for each – below.
- Funny virtual ice breaker questions
- “If you could” ice breaker questions
- “Would you rather” ice breaker questions
- Holiday ice breaker questions
- Team-building ice breaker questions
- Creative ice breaker questions
1 Funny virtual ice breaker questions
Everyone loves to laugh, but work typically isn’t all that funny. That changes when you start your virtual meetings with funny ice breakers. A good laugh can be super refreshing for team members who come into your meetings nervous or tired. They’re also a great antidote for the feelings of disconnection that so many remote team members experience.
Some funny virtual ice breaker questions you could ask include:
- What was your fashion sense like when you were a kid?
- What was the worst movie you saw recently?
- What movie or TV show makes you laugh so hard you can barely keep it together?
- What was your favorite TV show or movie as a kid?
- Which kids’ TV show had a premise that you just absolutely couldn’t buy into?
- What fads are you glad no longer exist?
- What fads do you miss, and why were they a big deal to you?
- Do you get nostalgic for the past, or do you cringe, and why?
- Were you a rebel as a kid, or emo, or goth, or something else you don’t identify with today?
- Tell the group your favorite (clean!) joke.
- Do you talk to your pets like they’re people?
- What game show would you be super awesome at?
2 “If you could” ice breaker questions
“If you could” questions are arguably a subset of funny questions, but they merit their own section since they flex creative muscles differently. Whereas many of the above funny questions simply involve recalling things that have happened, “if you could” questions require imagination. This out-of-the-box thinking makes for great teams.
Some “if you could” icebreaker questions you could ask include:
- If you could have dinner with any real person, dead or alive, who and why?
- If you could spend a night on the town with any fictional character, even animated ones, who and why?
- If you could live on any of the other planets, which one and why?
- If you could hear any song again for the first time, which one and why?
- If you could be a reality TV contestant, which show would you audition for?
- If you could step into one recurring outfit from your childhood right now, which one and why?
- If you could live in any house or apartment building near here, which one and why?
- If you could be any other type of living thing, from any of the biological kingdoms, which one and why?
- If you could acquire any superpower, which one would you want and why?
- If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
- If you could turn back time thrice per year, what would you save those moments for?
- If you could do a Freaky Friday-style swap with anyone, fictional or real, who and why?
3 “Would you rather” ice breaker questions
Like “if you could” questions, “would you rather” ice breakers can be funny, and they definitely require some imagination. These moments of imagination can be stimulating enough to get your team in the zone for your meeting. And your team’s answers to these questions can be great conversation topics among teammates as they’re getting to know each other.
Some “would you rather” questions you could ask include:
- Would you rather live underwater or on another planet?
- Would you rather lose your teenage memories or your college memories?
- Would you rather give up sweet or salty junk food?
- Would you rather go back in time to meet someone you look up to or into the future to meet people you don’t yet know?
- Would you rather it be winter or summer all year round?
- Would you rather it be arid or humid all year round?
- Would you rather give up TV or social media?
- Would you rather be a fast reader or a fast writer?
- Would you rather be stuck on a deserted island with an infinite supply of TV or movies?
- Would you rather wear a wedding dress/tuxedo every single day or wear a bathing suit every single day?
4 Holiday ice breaker questions
The holidays are nothing short of a cultural institution. There’s just no time of year quite like Thanksgiving through New Year’s – all the gifts, family, travel, food, you name it. The uniqueness of this time opens the floor to virtual ice breaker questions you can’t as easily ask at other times. Plus, when you bring wholesome family memories and occasions into the fold, you can get your team to really open up.
Some holiday virtual ice breaker questions to ask include:
- What was your first-ever holiday gift?
- If Santa were real, how do you think he’d really act?
- As a child, were you more often naughty or nice?
- Does your family have unique Thanksgiving traditions?
- What’s your favorite thing to eat at the holiday feast?
- What holidays do you celebrate around this time that most people don’t know about?
- What’s your favorite way to celebrate New Year’s Eve?
- Do you like how close together all these holidays are, or would you rather spread them out over the course of the year?
- What’s your favorite way to eat Thanksgiving dinner leftovers?
- What fictional character or historical or cultural figure, dead or alive, would you invite to your holiday dinner and why?
5 Team-building ice breaker questions
Meetings and ice breaker questions share a major goal: building team-wide rapport. To that end, try viewing your ice breaker questions as a team-building game to play at the start of every meeting. Ice breaker questions designed specifically to help your teammates figure out how they best work with others are a great starting point. These questions help you segue more easily into the meat of your meeting while encouraging meaningful critical thinking.
Some great team-building ice breaker questions include:
- What’s your favorite real-life team of any sort (not just sports)?
- What’s your first memory of doing teamwork?
- What team accomplishment in your life makes you the proudest?
- What role do you best fit into on a team?
- Do you have an easy time asking for help?
- When you communicate with your teammates, do you talk more or listen more?
- What skills do you bring to a team setting?
- What qualities do you seek in an ideal teammate?
- Do you prefer working alone or with a team?
- Do you prefer to work alone at first and then bring in collaborators, or would you rather collaborate from the get-go?
- What is the most unique thing you have within reach of your desk?
- What is the last book your read?
6 Creative ice breaker questions
If you’re looking to push the envelope on thinking outside the box, creative ice breaker questions can help. These questions can lead to funny moments, but they’re not necessarily designed for laughs. They are designed to get your team members thinking for more than just a quick second about their answers. You might even hear, “Oh man, that’s a good question, I need to think for a bit” when you ask these questions. And that’s exactly the point!
Some creative ice breaker questions to try at your next virtual meeting include:
- What toppings would you put on your ideal pizza?
- What would you put in your ideal salad?
- Which famous person looks the most like you, and which famous person acts the most like you?
- When you’re at karaoke, what are your favorite individual and group songs to sing?
- When someone asks “what do you do for fun,” what do you always accidentally forget to include?
- What’s your favorite word in the English language, and why?
- If you were a dog or cat, what toys, furniture pieces, and other pet-friendly things would your ideal home have?
- Pick an object in your room and tell us its backstory.
- What’s one mode of public transportation that hasn’t yet been invented that you’d like to see?
- Do you think you could withstand all the public exposure of fame? Why?
- Where did you grow up?
- Where do you consider “home”?
- Which web browser do you use most?
How to create the best virtual ice breaker questions
It’s one thing to understand the value of ice breaker questions for virtual meetings. It’s another to come up with questions that effectively break the ice. It’s a challenge that only gets more formidable when your whole team is working from home. But with the below tips, you’ll come up with the best possible ice breaker questions.
- Concise is nice
- Use tech tools
- Start with the easy stuff
- Go first
- Say who’s up next
- Always seek new virtual ice breaker questions
- Always include icebreakers
1 Concise is nice
There’s a delicate balance to strike with ice breaker questions. Namely, at what point do ice breakers stop being effective virtual team-building activities and start delaying important conversations? To strike the right balance, limit your ice breakers to a few minutes, depending on the size of your team. Don’t move through your ice breakers so rapidly that you don’t appear genuinely interested, but do respect your team’s time. Your colleagues might want to start the actual meeting sooner than later.
Another great way to keep things short and sweet: Make your ice breaker questions super simple. No need to get complicated or philosophical – go for self-explanatory questions. This way, you don’t waste time guiding your team through a complicated team bonding exercise that only thickens the ice. Overcomplication is a conduit to exhaustion, whereas simplicity provides a fast path to engagement and excitement.
“You might be hurting the team by not spending more time fostering people’s careers and improving communication.”– Vlad Magdalin ,CEO of Webflow
2 Use tech tools
Good ice breaker questions are lots of fun. They can be even more exciting if you pair them with visuals or music. So go ahead and make that slideshow to screen-share on your video conferencing app! If your slideshow enhances your icebreakers without complicating them, they’ll help deepen the connections your team members form.
You should also use your video chat tool’s breakout rooms to enhance your ice breakers. Your team members may feel less anxious about sharing their answers with a small group than in front of a big crowd. Breakout rooms can also deepen the bonds formed, as connections that small groups make are often stronger than across a whole team. You should always use breakout rooms if your team has more than 15 people.
3 Start with the easy stuff
All ice breaker questions should be simple, but some will inherently be simpler than others. These are the questions you should start with first. For example, “What did you do this weekend?” is easier to answer than “What would be on your dream pizza?” Both are super open-ended and fun, but the former is a bit more concrete and thus better to lead with. When you open with these easier questions, you help your team get more comfortable more quickly.
4 Go first
Even the most fun ice breaker questions can seem imposing to your most reserved team members. So, just as you would in any team meeting or setting, lead by example. Be the first person to answer the questions you ask so other folks can feel more comfortable doing the same. Everyone else present will get a sense of how long their answers can be and just how fun and informal they can get.
5 Say who’s up next (and after that, and after that)
When you pick the next person to answer questions, you should also indicate who’s on deck after them. You should also state who’s on deck after that person. That’s a total of three people to name. This way, you give everyone ample time to prepare interesting answers, and you avoid putting anybody unexpectedly on the spot.
6 Always seek new virtual ice breaker questions
Are you the only team leader you know? We didn’t think so. Other team leaders are sure to have interesting ice breaker questions of their own. So too are your team members or anybody you know who attends virtual meetings. Seeking these new questions and working them into your virtual meetings will keep the ice-breaking experience fresh and exciting for longer.
7 Always include icebreakers
We get it: You’ve got a lot on your meeting agenda, and ice breaker questions don’t feel nearly as important as everything else. But they really can be. To remember why, scroll back up to our explanation of why ice breakers are especially important for all virtual meetings. Yes, they play a role in meetings in traditional, in-person office spaces, but they’re vital for teams that work remotely. Always include them, even when you’re tempted to exclude them.
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Ask away, and then start the meeting
Ice breaker questions are important for successfully transitioning your team from “we’re here” to “and now we’re ready!” But they aren’t the crux of your meeting, nor should they be. Other main themes, talking points, and action items should be the focus. And with Fellow, you can easily create meeting agendas that incorporate all the necessary elements, share them with your team, and get right to work.