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5 of our favorite fun and quick icebreakers to open (virtual) meetings

Nadia Piet

Nadia Piet

03-06-2020

The start of a meeting can be a little uncomfortable. It feels rude to jump straight into the agenda without a bit of chatter, but you’re also trying to make the most of a limited time.      

At in-person meetings, the first few minutes usually fill themselves up with enjoyable small talk. But the virtual equivalent and our new standard doesn’t cater to that as naturally.      

So at Bit we asked: how might we open our virtual meetings in a fun way? Inviting everyone to arrive and connect socially without taking up too much time? Having experimented over the past weeks, we have gathered a handful of our favorite icebreakers for you to try out during your next virtual meeting! All of them take 5–10 minutes and work best for groups of 5–15.

Bit_prototyping 5 of our favorite fun and quick icebreakers to open (virtual) meetings

1.“Rondje” anything

One of our long-lasting Bit rituals (coined by our founder Marco), is starting every meeting with a “rondje goed nieuws” — a round of good news. Over time, we’ve created many variations of this “rondje” around anything. Some of our favorites: What’s the last thing that inspired you? What’s the first thing you’ve ever built / designed / sold? What was your favorite toy / thing to do as a kid? What’s your favorite day of the week? What is your favorite / most used emoji? It’s easy to think of many more, and there are some great ones here.      

2. Alien drawful

Make sure you have a virtual whiteboard open for all the participants to draw on. Then, set the stage: “Aliens have landed on earth, and arrived straight at your meeting. You have to explain to them what problem you’re looking to solve / what your company does / what this meeting is about. Without speaking. Each person is allowed to draw one thing / for 10 seconds to make an addition to the whiteboard.” Give turns and watch a masterpiece evolve.      

3. Show your WFH station

Though not as an official icebreaker, we’ve done tours of our workstations, living rooms, balconies, and rooftops (MTV welcome to my crib style). As your home is something quite personal, showing someone around (even virtually) can be a bonding experience. For the same reason, this would work best for teams who know each other and come together regularly (also so you can take turns). A simpler version of this could be to ask “What is your favorite thing within arm’s reach right now?”.      

4. Super you

Ask your team members to make a drawing or visual personifying themselves as superheroes. Try to illustrate what is your superpower? What is your kryptonite? Who is your nemesis? Besides producing fun drawings and a few good giggles, it’s a powerful way to open up about your talents, your weaknesses, and your (in)visible battles. Characterizing oneself requires honest self-reflection and adopting humor brings the necessary lightness to make this exercise as silly or vulnerable as each person feels comfortable with.

5. Use the backdrop feature

If you have Zoom or any other program that allows for custom backgrounds, use it! Ask participants to set their backgrounds to answer “If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?”, their favorite color, or the last picture in their downloads folder (caution: potentially NSFW).      

Bonus: Pictionary

A classic. Some of our favorite physical icebreakers that revolve around drawing (like blind portrait drawing, and the object + verb brainstorm) don’t translate very well to virtual calls. Thankfully there’s always Pictionary. Pick a web app like Drawize where no installs are needed, and take turns drawing and guessing your doodles. Drawful is definitely amongst our favorites, but be aware that this icebreaker takes a bit more time and effort to set up than others.      

Notable mentions

  • Emoji check-in / Three-Emoji Memoirs — share your current mood or life story in 3 emojis
  • Chat Haiku — everybody adds 2–3 words to write a story collectively
  • WFH Matches — Everyone sends a picture of where they’re sitting to the facilitator. The facilitator shows the pictures through screen sharing and the participants have to guess whose picture it is
  • Never have I ever — Say something you think no one else has done. Others raise their hand if they have done it. Keep going until you find something ‘most unique’
  • Office yoga — Do a 5 min (seated) yoga session just stretching arms, neck, and back     

What’s your favorite?

This being our favorites for now, we are always experimenting with new (virtual) icebreakers. If you’ve used an amazing icebreaker that’s not on this list, we’d love to hear about it. Or if we’ve just presented you with your new favorite way to start your meetings, let us know which one is your favorite and which variations you and your teams come up with!