I work in eLearning, promising people you actually can learn stuff online (which more and more people take advantage of, yay!), so remote exercises are not news to me. However, what I noticed around when the times have changed, is the slightly incorrect use of them! Therefore, to help, let me gather a few of my favorites *and* explain when to use them, and when to skip them! Because the icebreaker is only as good as the circumstances it’s being used in!

 

The idea of icebreakers may sound corny, but they do help. They can make introductions between team members – and not only new but in a team that hasn’t worked online before. They can encourage a lighter atmosphere, something that is very conducive to a healthy and creative discussion. Breaking the ice can bridge the gaps between different ways of thinking, different moods people are in, and different teams as well, it can bring “lighthearted focus” to the meeting.

 

Of course, approach with caution – don’t force them, and notice how the team members are feeling. Take in the surroundings and adjust accordingly, because if used on a rainy day, they can add a bit of frustration, instead of work wonders. So always, and I repeat, always prioritize the feelings and moods over any best practice.

CHOOSE YOUR FLAVOR

Below I dropped some games and added categories that should help you easily figure out what game is good for your type of meeting. Take a look at the suggested maximum people and any requirements, so you can let your folks know beforehand!

All work and no play doesn’t just make Jill and Jack dull, it kills the potential of discovery, mastery, and openness to change and flexibility and it hinders innovation and invention.

Joline Godfrey

1. Superpowers

No of participants: up to 6 is best
Prerequisites: some pens and paper
Video: ON

 

1. Each participant creates their superhero persona, along with their special superpower. They should draw them – no matter the quality, haha.
2. Participants take turns to explain what their superpower will be.
3. You can extend it to have a “who would fight who” convo, if the teams is tight.

2. Emoji Warrior

No of participants: up to 6 is best
Prerequisites: pens and paper, maybe some colorful crayons
Video: ON

 

1. Pose the question: draw an emoji that best represents your mood now. Each participant should try to express themselves, drawing skills not important. Extra points for inventing new emojis!
2. Participants take turns in showing their emojis. Everyone should explain why they chose/drew their emojis.
3. Facilitators, try to connect people with similar feelings to show that people are not alone. If you are doing this before a longer workshop, take the chance to reassure anyone who might feel uneasy that the workshop will answer their questions.

3. Where Would You Be?

No of participants: up to 4 is best, maybe you can squeeze 6
Prerequisites: none for the spoken version; however you can prepare a map in a collaborative tool (such as Mural or Miro) and share it, so people can add post-its or icons on the map to represent their place
Video: ON or OFF

 

1. One by one, everyone answers the question: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where you be and why?
2. Facilitator – you can group the answers by continents, countries, or ask follow-up questions, for instance:
+ What would your surroundings look like?
+ Who would be with you?
+ Would work feel better if you could do it there?

4. Guess the Movie

No of participants: up to 4 is best, maybe you can squeeze 6
Prerequisites: collaboration tool where you can use a whiteboard (e.g. Zoom), ability to share screens or the facilitator giving control of the shared screen to someone
Video: ON or OFF

 

1. Think charades, but the movie title is combined from emojis!
2. Participants take each turn in presenting the movie title by emojis only, the team has to guess.
3. Facilitator – you can keep the score, or just use it in good fun!

5. Things in Common

No of participants: big teams, so you can divive them into smaller groups
Prerequisites: collaboration tool where you can use breakout rooms
Video: ON

 

1. Divide participants into smaller groups.
2. Each group has to come up with 5 things that all of them have in common, e.g. “we all have white sneakers” or “we all enjoy mint tea” – but try to avoid the obvious, such as “we all work for the same company.”
3. Facilitator – ask groups to share their list and see if they share any items between each other.

6. Team Story

No of participants: up to 6 is best
Prerequisites: collaboration tool where you can share screen
Video: ON

 

1. Use a “story generator” app to draw out some pictures or words:
+ https://rollthedice.online/en/roll/roll-all-the-story-cubes-dice
+ https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/158896002/
2. Each participants adds one sentence to the story, using one of the words/pictures from the pool. One element cannot be used twice!
3. Enjoy creative and quirky stories!