Work meetings are not fun. They are time-consuming and way too often ineffective. And virtual meetings are no exception to that rule. The first rule of a meeting should be: Only have meetings that are necessary. And the second: When in a meeting, get the best out of it.
But how to do so? By engaging the whole team from the first minute on. Short virtual icebreakers boost your meeting by creating an engaged and open atmosphere.
Invest 3 minutes into the opening session. Safe many more minutes by having an effective meeting from the first minute on.
Time is money
Companies are notoriously short on time. And time is money. People do not like to interrupt their important work with endless meetings. And on top, they must engage at the beginning of the meeting in some random team activity that has nothing to do with the meeting topic itself? Yes. Because you lay the groundwork of the meeting in the first minutes. It is like waking up in the morning. You could start running a marathon immediately. But you don’t. You stretch yourself first and do some steps to wake up every muscle in your body.
Short virtual icebreakers allow everybody to say something before the actual meeting starts. If you said something once, it is easier to join the conversation again afterwards. The conclusion is: Make your team talk before discussing the important things, and you will have a more vivid debate following. It’s just like many other things, the first time is the hardest time. And when the first step is done, you do not want to stop anymore.
Breaking the ice does not have to take too much time away from your meeting. Here are short virtual icebreakers that will help your team to engage and focus in under 3 minutes:
Short virtual icebreakers under 3 minutes
The meeting facilitator asks a short question. Every teammate answers the question with only one word or sentence. To expect when it is your turn to talk, go in the order of how your name appears on the screen. One after the other gives a spontaneous one-word-answer/ one-sentence-answer.
You can alter it, and every meeting somebody else is asking a question.
Here are some example questions you can ask:
- Favourite food
- Least favourite food
- What was your first job?
- What’s your favourite smell?
- What will you do next weekend?
- What was the worst style choice you ever made?
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
- What is your favourite item you’ve bought this year?
- What would the title of your autobiography be?
Nobody is like me…
One after the other, everybody has to finish the sentence “Nobody is like me…”. For example: “Nobody is like me a sports enthusiast and goes to the gym at least 5 times a week.” Or: “Nobody is like me already been to South Africa on a safari.” The teammates give a hand sign to express their consent (thumb up) or negation (thumb down).
Extra tip: If you use Zoom for your video call, there is a handy function in the team settings box. Every teammate can click on a green checkmark or red cross, making it easy to see in your status what you voted for.
One word description
The meeting facilitator says something like “team culture”. Every team member will think about one word that describes that term for him or her. They have 30 seconds to think about their answer. Then one by one, everybody gives their one-word-answer without any further explanation.
Are you unhappy with your online meetings? We moderate engaging online meetings for virtual teams, no matter if weekly stand-up, monthly feedback or quarterly product design meetings.
Adventurous Angy and Zippy Zack
We all played that game already. State your name and add a describing adjective about yourself starting with your name’s first letter. The next person has to repeat your name and adjective and then add his or her own name and a describing adjective. The third person repeats the name-adjective union and adds his/her own, and so on and so on.
People that logged into the meeting room first start first. The game gets more difficult in the end, so that’s a good incentive to not come last to the next meeting 😉
Finish the sentence
The meeting facilitator says one sentence that every teammate has to finish. Examples? Here we go:
- Today I want to make the world….
- I can’t stop laughing when….
- When I dance I look like…
18 & under
This is an engaging way to get to know your teammates better and share funny or interesting stories with each other. Simply take turns and share one accomplishment each that you had before you turned 18. You might learn that “I bought a Playstation when I was 10” or “I won the school football championship”. Maybe you will discover some hidden skills in your colleagues that you never expected.
Digital icebreakers for more engagement in your remote team
Digital icebreakers enhance your virtual meetings by creating an engaging atmosphere. They also help your team bond and get to know each other better. With these 3-minute-activities you can help to avoid the trap of isolation. Why isolation is so dangerous for remote teams and how you can easily avoid it, you can read in this blog post.
Now, jump on your next virtual meeting. Start with one short virtual icebreakers. Have an effective and efficient meeting with an investment of under 3 minutes.
The more engaged everybody is in the discussion, the earlier you can go back to your actual work tasks.