Have you felt some sort of awkward silence when you try stirring up a conversation, and it flops?
You are not alone in your experience, and many people seem to have encountered this problem often in all their lives. Hence, it is essential to understand the importance of silence and how best to break it down effectively.
In this post, we will be discussing how to utilize icebreaker questions for virtual meetings that increased due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Before going any further, it is good to understand the definition of an icebreaker.
An icebreaker is a (quick) activity used to welcome and warm up the conversation at the beginning of a meeting. In other words, it is a warmer that can "break the ice." This ice is simply a reflection of people not being familiar with each other. The ice may also be due to differences in statuses, cultures, outlooks, perceptions, backgrounds, etc.
Nevertheless, icebreakers can range wildly: simple one-question answers or elaborate team games.
Icebreakers aim to help the attendees know and build rapport in whatever format they take. However, this does not mean that they are not results and work-focused.
Remember, these icebreakers aim to break some ice of the event(s), not uncover the iceberg. Therefore, choose to focus on the similarities, such as shared interests. Alternatively, you could handle the participants' differences sensitively.
Icebreakers are significant for the events' essential communication and participant comfort levels. Thus, they can help break down barriers that exist in the workplace. Such barriers include job titles, various departmental entities, organization charts, and hierarchy.
Also, icebreakers aid in enticing all attendees to fully engage other participants, especially when asked to own the session's outcomes (s).
Icebreakers are helpful when warming up the room for people who already know each other in the meeting. They help generate laughter, get attendees talking, and aid them to feel comfortable as all participants feel the consideration is equal to them all.
When attendees do not know each other, an icebreaker can be the catalyst that aids them in introducing themselves. An effective icebreaker could be the tool that encourages the participants to engage in the meeting or training session.
So, in summary, icebreaker questions for virtual meetings might ensure:
There are many types of icebreakers. But in this section, we will be focusing only on five kinds of icebreakers commonly used.
This icebreaker can generate laughter and conversations when attendees know each other. However, if they are strangers, they can learn about each other, making them more comfortable.
These icebreakers could help ensure that the participants value the conversation, making it more enjoyable.
For example, the moderator can choose a simple scenario where everyone can easily contribute. The idea here is to warm up the group and not solve a real problem, and the intent here is for everyone to learn about each other's way of interaction and problem-solving.
Examples of these types of icebreakers include:
1) What was your first online virtual meeting experience?
2) Which unique environment have you ever taken a virtual meeting from?
3) What excites you?
4) What is your dream location to have a virtual meeting?
5) Which is your favorite background to display in your virtual meeting?
6) Would you rather have a virtual video meeting or talk over the phone?
7) How best would you describe a virtual meeting to anyone who has never attended one?
8) What is happening in your space that others cannot see on screen?
9) Is there any exciting thing within your arm's reach?
10) What hobbies are you into when you are not at work?
Every meeting needs to have a valid reason for the coming together of participants. Attendees might engage in activities that aid in team building, improving their work, solving problems, or identifying new pursuits.
The following questions will act as a guideline for formulating your introductory icebreakers:
11) Are you the morning type, or do you prefer the owl life?
12) Where did you grow up?
13) What is the most courageous thing you have done?
14) What was the first job you did in your career?
15) Presented by the will to choose, would you rather be back in the office, remote, or hybrid?
16) Which is better: to be late for work or to leave?
17) Which is your best work holiday?
18) Are you a team worker or prefer to go at it alone?
19) As a child, what did you want to become when you grew up?
20) What are your most outstanding achievements?
These are useful, especially in a newly formed group, and they are also effective in the early stages of team building.
Therefore, team building icebreakers can help the participants work cohesively toward the meeting plan.
Examples here are:
21) What name did you go by as your first online skill name?
22) Which song would you listen to repeatedly without getting bored?
23) What was your dream job when in elementary school?
24) Would you rather have a schedule or a flexible worklist?
25) What is that one thing that you built from scratch?
26) When last did you use a paper dictionary?
27) In your opinion, which is the best movie that illustrates "teamwork" amongst its characters?
28) Would you work with a dessert of work from the desert if it were to you?
29) What is the one thing that surprised you about remote working?
30) What are the best productivity hacks you have ever come across?
These icebreakers segue or introduce the audience to the topic discussion at hand. Though it might stir up conversation and laughter, its clear purpose is to open the topic.
Some examples of this type are:
31) What was your most recent online search?
32) Which app do you frequently use?
33) Which earliest memory do you have of the internet?
34) Do you remember the first website you ever visited?
35) What was the first username you used for your online identity?
36) Which website do you find yourself navigating most of the time?
37) Have you or your content ever gone viral?
38) Do you possess any remote work productivity hacks?
39) Which work-from-home habit is the best for you?
40) Which online information do you find fascinating?
As the name suggests, these icebreaker questions elicit moments of fun and joy in the attendees. One can formulate them as follows:
41) Which three people would you want on your team in a zombie apocalypse?
42) Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
43) Which emoji do you often employ in your texting?
44) What fashion trend would you bring back if it was within your power?
45) When it comes to style, which was the worst one you rocked in?
46) What is your favorite decade of the 20th century?
47) Who would invite you as your first guest if you own a late-night talk show?
48) What is that thing that you think would make you famous?
49) If a movie producer was to make a movie about you, what genre would it be?
50) What is the one article of clothing that would make you walk out on a date if the other party wore it?
Now that we have tackled the types of ice breaker questions, let us look at how to run them effectively in remote settings, shall we?
Since remote working, moderators have difficulty conducting icebreaker questions on virtual meeting platforms. The reason for this is the scarcity of virtual cues. Moreover, it isn't easy to know the people's order, rank, and type in such meetings.
Nevertheless, some practices can be effective in tackling this challenge. Such guidelines include:
a) Volunteer to go first by introducing yourself first and hinting at what the virtual meeting is all about.
b) Then, name the next people and their role in the meeting or the organization. The naming should be per the order of their authority.
c) Afterward, start the group with easy questions to aid folks in getting comfortable with the meeting.
d) Finally, split the groups into smaller groups of specific members each.
e) Overall, utilize icebreakers in every [virtual] meeting.
Following the tips above while utilizing discretion could be one of the best ways to team up with your virtual team.
Remember always to monitor your virtual environs and be sensitive to the atmosphere of the meeting: this will aid in understanding when and how best to utilize the icebreaker questions.
People tend to employ the icebreakers technique when breaking the ice at a meeting or event. Nevertheless, consider using icebreakers when:
· You'd like to have the attendees know you better while simultaneously knowing them better
· The team formation was recent
· Participants have a range of [outstanding] differences
· You desire the team members to bond quickly and work towards a common goal
· The topics discussed are new or unfamiliar to the attendees
· Increasing virtual team engagement
· Stimulating learning and skill acquisition
· Encouraging community cohesion and bonding
· Inspiring empathy
Other ways to break the ice include:
- Free online group games
- Icebreaker jokes
- Fun check-in questions
In addition, we have included some FAQs that you might have even after reading the whole article.
As we defined what an icebreaker is previously in one subheading, the term virtual icebreaker is not different. Virtual icebreaker questions prompt the attendee to share online, helping others get to know people better. Such questions can improve communication while simultaneously increasing engagement.
These prompts include virtual meeting ice breaker questions, Zoom icebreaker questions and virtual team building questions.
When it comes to team-building questions, icebreaker questions are compelling. Why?
Their effectiveness in breaking down communication barriers as participants ease into talking to their team members. The easing of the barriers does reduce tension, strengthening the bonds of the attendees. They also act as a catalyst for warming up the conversation in the meeting.
Hence, if you include such practices in your virtual meetings, you might accumulate great results.
No best icebreaker question is set in stone, which also applies to virtual meeting questions. However, you can start by asking the participants an open-ended question.
One best example is, "What would you like to share with everybody present here?" Such a question allows team members to feel comfortable and participate freely.
Remember, icebreaker questions serve to reinforce the behind the group coming together. So, they can be the segue into the virtual activity, or they may stand alone.