November 21, 2023
By Hope Salvatori

Picture this: you walk into a room filled with strangers from various backgrounds, and the tension is palpable. You're at a meeting where the participants are about as well-acquainted as a group of penguins in the Sahara. So, how do you transform this chilly gathering into a warm, collaborative melting pot? The answer is simple: meeting icebreakers!

These creative activities are like social defrosting agents, designed to remove awkward silences and stimulate lively conversations. With the power to break down barriers, inspire laughter, and foster a positive atmosphere, icebreakers turn meetings from frigid affairs into hotbeds of collaboration. 

This blog presents a treasure trove of 10 extraordinary meeting icebreakers to put everyone at ease. 

What is an Icebreaker?

An icebreaker is a fun and engaging activity, game, or exercise that perfectly remedies those moments when people meet for the first time or don't know each other well. Icebreakers shatter social barriers, encourage lively interaction, and create a feel-good atmosphere, setting the stage for smooth sailing and enthusiastic collaboration. Often used as the opening act in meetings, workshops, or events, icebreakers will have your group chatting, laughing, and connecting in no time. 

5 Icebreakers for Virtual Meetings

Presenting five engaging virtual icebreakers perfect for bringing people together and breaking down barriers in online meetings. Incorporating these activities into your online gatherings will create a more enjoyable and interactive experience for all attendees. 

1. Virtual Background Challenge

Ask participants to set their virtual backgrounds to a place they want to visit or an image that reflects their personality. 

For example, a participant might choose a virtual background that shows a beautiful beach with palm trees swaying in the breeze, or they may select an image of their favorite sports team or a painting they admire. Each participant will then take turns explaining their choice and why they chose that particular background. 

2. Online Quiz

You can use one of the many online quiz platforms to create a quiz. These platforms typically provide a range of options for designing and customizing your quiz, including choosing a theme or topic, adding images and multimedia content, and creating different question types. 

Once you have designed your quiz, you can divide the participants into teams and let them compete against each other. Use breakout rooms on video conferencing apps and randomly organize groups based on shared interests or roles. 

The quiz can include questions about the meeting topic, company culture, or general trivia. For example, if the meeting topic is marketing, have questions about marketing strategies or famous marketing campaigns. If the company culture emphasizes innovation, the quiz can have questions on innovative products or inventions. 

3. Show and Tell

The activity involves each participant selecting an object within their reach that holds personal significance and sharing the story behind it with the group. 

The selected object can be anything significant to the participant, such as a family heirloom, a favorite book, artwork, or a souvenir from a trip. Each participant takes a turn to show their object to the group and share the story behind it. 

4. Virtual Scavenger Hunt

The "Home Scavenger Hunt" is a fun and engaging icebreaker activity that adds excitement and friendly competition to virtual meetings. This activity involves providing a list of items or tasks that participants must find or complete within their homes within a set time limit. 

To set up the Home Scavenger Hunt, the organizer should prepare a list of items or tasks related to the meeting topic or theme. Make a list challenging yet achievable, with items ranging from simple everyday objects to more unusual or specific items. 

Some examples of items or tasks for a Home Scavenger Hunt might include: 

  1. Find a book that you've read more than once
  2. Take a selfie with a plant
  3. Find a kitchen utensil that you've never used before
  4. Find an item that starts with the letter "B."
  5. Find something that represents your favorite hobby 

Once the list is ready, the organizer should explain the rules and set a time limit for participants to complete the scavenger hunt. Participants can then be divided into teams or play individually, depending on the size and purpose of the meeting. 

During the scavenger hunt, participants will search their homes for the items on the list or complete the tasks assigned. This activity encourages creativity and problem-solving skills as participants think of unique ways to find or complete the items on the list. 

At the end of the time limit, participants can share their findings and experiences with the group. The team or individual with the most items or tasks completed can be declared the winner, adding a friendly competition element to the activity. 

5. Online Pictionary

This activity involves using a digital whiteboard or drawing app to play a game of Pictionary, where participants take turns drawing a word or phrase related to the meeting topic. At the same time, the rest of the group tries to guess it.

To set up the virtual game of Pictionary, choose a digital whiteboard or drawing app that allows multiple users to collaborate and draw together in real-time. Divide the participants into teams or play individually, depending on the size and purpose of the meeting. 

Each player draws a word or phrase related to the meeting topic while the rest of the group tries to guess it. The player can use any creative means to draw, such as different colors, shapes, and lines, to convey the meaning of the word or phrase.

As the group guesses, the player can give hints or clues to help them reach the answer. Once the team member guesses the word or phrase correctly, the turn is over, and the next player takes their turn to draw and guess. 

5 Icebreakers for In-person Meetings

The top 5 engaging icebreakers are perfect for creating a welcoming and interactive atmosphere during in-person meetings. These activities in your gatherings will help attendees feel at ease and encourage collaboration and connection. 

1. The Human Knot

The "Human Knot" is a classic team-building activity that promotes teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. In this activity, participants stand in a circle, reach across, and grab the hands of two different people. The goal is to untangle the "knot" without releasing hands. 

To begin the activity, participants should stand in a circle facing each other. Each participant should then reach across and grab the hands of two different people in the loop, making sure not to hold the hands of the people standing immediately next to them. 

Once everyone has grabbed hands, the group must work together to untangle the "knot" without releasing hands. Do this by stepping over, ducking under, or weaving through the hands of other participants. The goal is to end up with a circle of participants standing in a straight line or a circle without releasing their hands. 

During the activity, participants must communicate and collaborate to find the best way to untangle the knot. They must listen to each other's suggestions and work together to find a solution. The activity promotes teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. 

Once the knot is untangled, the group can reflect on the experience and discuss what they learned. Repeat the activity with different groups or with a time limit to add a competitive element. 

2. The One-Word Icebreaker

To begin the activity, select a topic or theme related to the meeting purpose, such as a recent project, a current event, or a company value. Once you’ve decided on the theme, ask each participant to think of one word that describes their thoughts or feelings about it. 

As each participant shares their one-word response, the group can discuss their perspectives and insights. This activity encourages open communication and helps attendees learn about each other's perspectives on the topic or theme. It also provides an opportunity for participants to practice their active listening skills and learn how to express their thoughts and feelings in a concise and meaningful way. 

The One-Word Icebreaker can be adapted to suit different settings and purposes. For example, it can be used as an icebreaker activity to help team members get to know each other better or as a brainstorming tool to generate ideas and insights on a particular topic. 

3. The Four Corners Game

The Four Corners Game is an interactive icebreaker activity that helps attendees discover common interests. This activity involves labeling the room's corners with four categories (e.g., favorite movie genres, seasons, or vacation destinations). Participants move to the corner representing their preferences and discuss their choice with others.

To set up the Four Corners Game, the organizer should choose four categories related to the meeting purpose or theme. For example, if the meeting focuses on team-building, the categories may include favorite team-building activities, leadership styles, communication preferences, and problem-solving techniques. Once the participants choose the categories, label the room's corners. 

Ask the participants to move to the corner of the room that represents their preference for one of the four categories. They should then discuss their choice with others in the corner, sharing their reasons for choosing that category and learning about the preferences of others. 

As the activity progresses, participants can move to different corners to explore other categories and meet new people. 

4. The Silent Interview

In this activity, participants pair up and spend a few minutes "interviewing" each other without speaking, using only gestures and facial expressions. They then introduce their partner to the group based on their non-verbal communication. 

To begin the activity, the organizer should divide participants into pairs and ask them to face each other. Each team should then spend a few minutes "interviewing" each other without speaking, using only gestures and facial expressions to communicate. Participants can use a range of non-verbal cues, such as hand gestures, facial expressions, and body language, to convey their thoughts and feelings to their partners. 

After the interview, each participant should introduce their partner to the group based on their non-verbal communication. This can be done through a short speech or presentation, highlighting their partner's personality, interests, and strengths based on their non-verbal communication during the interview. 

5. The Storytelling Chain

To begin the activity, the organizer can start the story by sharing a sentence or two. The first participant then adds their sentence to the story, and the next person continues the story by adding their sentence, and so on. The story moves around the circle, with each participant adding a sentence until it concludes. 

The activity encourages creativity, as each participant must think of an exciting and engaging sentence to add to the story. It also promotes collaboration, as participants must listen to each other's contributions and build on them to create a cohesive and engaging story. 

As the story progresses, participants can use their imaginations to introduce interesting characters, settings, and plot twists. The activity allows participants to practice their storytelling skills and develop their creativity while fostering a fun and relaxed atmosphere. 

Bonus: 10 Icebreaker Questions

  1. What is your favorite hobby, and how did you get into it?
  2. If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and why?
  3. What is the most memorable trip you've ever taken, and why was it memorable?
  4. What skill have you always wanted to learn but have not had the chance to?
  5. If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be?
  6. What is your favorite book or movie, and what do you like about it?
  7. What might people be surprised to learn about you?
  8. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go, and why?
  9. What is your favorite thing to do on a lazy day?
  10. If you could switch lives with anyone for a day, who would it be, and why? 

How Long Should an Icebreaker Be?

Be mindful of the icebreaker's duration. Ensure it takes little time but allows participants to get to know each other and feel comfortable enough to engage in the meeting's main topics. Generally, icebreakers should last between 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the group and the activity itself. 

It's important to remember that icebreakers serve as a professional warm-up and can significantly enhance the overall success of a meeting or retreat. Whether it's a small or large group, incorporating engaging icebreakers can break the tension, create a relaxed and positive atmosphere, and encourage interaction and collaboration. So, make icebreakers a part of your retreat or meeting planning to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience for all. 

Break the Boredom: Add Some Ice to Your Meetings

Meetings don't have to be as exciting as watching paint dry! Bring on the icebreakers to get everyone engaged and comfortable and build relationships. From classic Human Knots to virtual Pictionary, unleash a whole world of fun and get everyone involved. So, let's break the ice, boost productivity, and create a collaborative atmosphere that everyone can enjoy!

Hope Swedeen

Hope Salvatori

Hope is a Senior Content Marketing Associate who has been with Cvent for more than two years. She has 8 years of experience producing content for corporations, small businesses, associations, nonprofits, and universities. As a content professional, she has created content for a wide range of industries, including meetings and events, government and defense, education, health, and more.

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