It’s too common for teams to be all work and no play. With employees unintentionally working in silos, there can be a gap in communication among team members. Specifically in a remote environment, teams may have little-to-no interaction with one another outside of department meetings or all-hands. The lack of communication (and fun) can result in faster burnout, directly impacting the success of the team.
To help create an element of team-bonding, managers may implement icebreaker activities before kicking off an important meeting or presentation.
Why icebreakers for meetings are important at work
Icebreakers are important for company culture. When employees are heads down working on their individual projects— especially in remote environments— there can be a disconnect between them and the rest of the team. A disconnect can disrupt communication, collaboration, and trust among team members. Incorporating icebreakers before a team meeting or presentation can help lighten the mood, creating a collaborative and inclusive environment where team members can get to know each other better. By breaking down barriers and encouraging open communication, icebreakers can foster stronger relationships within the team. After all, we know that teamwork makes the dream work— so it’s important to encourage anything that builds the foundation of trust and collaboration.
10 Team meeting icebreakers
Here are 10 team meeting icebreaker ideas that can be used both in-person and virtually.
1. One word
Ask each team member to describe their current mood or state of mind in just one word. This can help set the tone for the meeting and encourage open communication for whatever else is on the agenda.
2. Show and tell
Have each team member share an object at their desk or in their office that represents something meaningful to them. This can help team members learn more about each other's interests and experiences, while giving a glimpse into their home office set up.
3. Themed meetings
If there’s a holiday or event coming up, themed meetings are a great way to encourage conversation. For example, for Valentine’s Day, everyone on the team may be asked to wear pink or red, or change their background to represent something they love.
4. Guess the lie
Ask each team member to share two truths and one lie about themselves. The rest of the team will then try to guess which statement is the lie. This activity can be a fun way to break the ice and encourage team members to share interesting facts about themselves. This is a great exercise for onboarding new members of the team.
5. Meet my pet
Nothing sparks conversation like pets do. Ask each team member to show their pets (if applicable) on camera and introduce them to the rest of the team. They can share a funny story or quirk about their pet which may be relatable to other people on the call.
6. Blind pitches
Have each team member create a (short) hypothetical pitch deck about a made-up company. Then everyone on the team swaps decks and has to do a sales pitch for the company with no context other than the presentation deck in front of them. This is a great exercise for sales and marketing teams, while making everyone laugh.
7. Online trivia quiz
Host a trivia game using an online platform like Kahoot! or Quizlet. Prepare questions related to your team or industry to make it more engaging and educational.
8. Virtual background challenge
Encourage team members to set a creative virtual background for the meeting. They can choose a background that reflects their personality or interests, or something totally random. This can spark conversation and showcase team members' creativity.
9. Would you rather
Everyone loves a good “would you rather” question. They’re quick and easy to answer, but allow team members to show a bit of their personality and open up.
10. Peaks and valleys
If it’s a meeting or presentation at the end of a week or quarter, you can kick things off with a game of peaks and valleys. Ask each team member to share their peak (highlight) and valley (least favorite part) of the week or quarter, and explain why. This could help give managers a better understanding of how they can support their team moving forward, and makes everyone feel heard.