Icebreaker ideas for remote meetings

Spark conversation among your remote team with these ideas.

Team zoom call

Whether you’re onboarding new team members or getting people to collaborate across departments, it’s important to find an energizing way to spark conversation. Icebreakers are activities and games designed to encourage participants to share something about themselves and get more comfortable interacting with one another. Below are some ideas for warming up your remote team and gearing up for a productive meeting.

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7 creative ideas for remote icebreakers

1. Two truths and a lie

Games are effective icebreakers because they’re active and engaging and help start the meeting on a positive, playful note. Two truths and a lie is a challenge that tests just how well your team knows one another.

In this game, everyone makes three statements about themselves—but only two of them should be true. The rest of the team votes on which of the three they think is the lie. The person giving the facts should choose three that all sound plausible so the lie is difficult to figure out.

This icebreaker is great for both new and established team members since everyone gets to learn a few fun facts about one another’s life outside of work. Sharing stories about a surprising true statement and explaining why a person chose a particular fake fact gives additional insight into their personality and history, so everyone gets a better understanding of their colleagues.

2. Scavenger hunt

For a more active take on the icebreaker, create a scavenger hunt for items your team is likely to find around their home. The goal is for players to find an object that matches a particular category and bring it back to their chair and show it to the rest of the team. Categories can be based on particular colors, common household objects, or open-ended categories that encourage people to share why they chose the item.

Depending on how much time is available, you can have everyone search for items within the same category or split players into teams to see who can complete a list of categories the fastest.

3. Opening questions

Not all icebreaker activities have to be lengthy games. Providing an initial prompt question can be a personal, engaging way to open a weekly meeting, especially around weekends or holidays. Open up one question to the entire team and encourage people to share:

  • What was everyone’s activity during their time off? 
  • What is everyone thankful for during the holidays?
  • Did anyone travel, and where did they go?

During other times of the year, the questions can be more general, such as asking what everyone’s favorite book is or about a goal they hope to accomplish outside of work. These questions help drive conversations about people’s hobbies and interests to build more meaningful bonds between team members.

4. Virtual background themes

Sometimes, an icebreaker is just about allowing people to be silly and loosen up. One fun option is to ask everyone to come into the meeting with a themed background for their video. Most virtual meeting platforms allow users to change their backgrounds or add filters and special effects. Give team members free rein to showcase their interests, hobbies, and pop culture favorites. Some themes to start with include:

  •  A place that is meaningful to you
  • A picture that shows who you want to be in your wildest dreams
  •  A favorite film, TV, or comic book character

5. Challenge sharing

Sharing and finding common ground in failures and successes is important for any team. Give people opportunities to share a current challenge they’re facing with their work or one they successfully overcame. People seeking advice can get feedback from team members who may have tackled similar challenges in the past.

These types of sharing activities help foster an environment where colleagues can talk about failures openly to learn from them without judgment. This helps people realize they are not alone in the challenges they face. 

6. Virtual social hours

This icebreaker is normally run independently of a typical meeting. The idea is to schedule a tea or coffee break where colleagues can converse about anything to develop rapport with one another. This can also help foster a feeling of belonging if team members are working alone most of the time and provide a good opportunity during the workday to unwind and reduce stress.

7. Virtual whiteboards

Not everyone is going to be a fan of jumping into a conversation during a team meeting and being the center of attention. Using a virtual whiteboard is one way to increase engagement while refraining from putting a lot of pressure on more introverted team members. The solution? Drawing! It might sound surprising, but having the group draw how they are feeling that day can be an effective way of connecting with one another.

This activity helps team members convey how they’re feeling going into the meeting and find some common ground with others who might be feeling the same way or in a position to be supportive. Drawing leaves room for creativity, which can help boost people’s moods and enable them to work through challenges.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, engage, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

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