As remote working has become the norm for the foreseeable future, more and more companies are diving deep into virtual meetings over platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Video conferencing platforms have seen a staggering increase in users since the start of lockdown. According to a recent report, Zoom has seen 200 million daily users on their platform on average during the lockdown. This is compared to an average of 10 million they were seeing in December 2019.

As you may have already experienced virtual meetings come with their own business challenges such as tech issues, time delay in audio and keeping attendee engaged. Whether it is an internal or external call if you have a large team in the meeting some people may feel uncomfortable in front of a camera and may be reluctant to speak up. Here at OnTrack we recognise that virtual meetings can be stressful, and finding ways to get people engaged with this new way of meeting daunting, therefore we wanted to share with you our top 6 icebreakers to help break any virtual meeting anxiety.

Why start your virtual meetings with icebreakers?

Icebreakers are a great way to help employees feel more comfortable and relaxed. It can help to ease tension and encourages all team members to interact. If you encourage everyone to speak at the beginning it should help them get rid of those initial camera nerves.

If you don’t address these issues at the beginning you could be looking at several business challenges from reduced interaction during the meeting, attendees not feeling confident enough to speak up when they don’t agree with a point raised and even lack of sign up for the next meeting.

Either way you look at it, icebreakers are a great tool to use for any type of meeting including any virtual learning sessions you hold for new starters or existing staff, which we will explore in a separate article. Many learning platforms allow for a little more creativity than standard virtual meetings. So, let’s get started here with our 6 top icebreakers for internal meetings.

Introductions and check ins

This is probably the most common icebreaker for both physical, in-person and virtual meetings, but it is also an important one. Encouraging everyone to introduce themselves is especially good if you have had some new staff start during the lockdown who hasn’t met everyone yet. It is also a great to create awareness of other team members within a company.

If everyone in the meeting already knows each other, such as an internal meeting then introductions may not be needed so we recommend checking in with them all. Ask them how they are doing and maybe even ask what they have been up to at the weekend for example. This is a useful way to not only get your employees to feel a bit more relaxed, but you can also get an idea of how confident they are talking on camera. Engaging with your staff is especially important during remote working when workers are not in the office, with reduced office ‘social time’ make sure you are keeping up with communication.

What’s everyone been reading or watching?

With no commute time and longer time at home people have been flocking to streaming services as well as books. Why not go round the team asking about the latest TV show, film, or book they have read or watched. Not only will this get some good conversations going but you could also take away some new recommendations to try!

What’s new?

During lockdown people have been experimenting with new activities at home including cross stitch, baking and DIY. So why not find out more about your employees and their new hobbies by asking what they have been doing and anything new they have tried, even if it is just a new dish they have cooked.  This is a great conversation starter in your virtual meetings, helping work colleagues catch up with each other but also showing an interest in employees life outside of work.

Two truths and a lie

You may have played this game before, but it is makes for an easy icebreaker in virtual meetings and adds a fun element to help your attendees relax. The game involves a member of staff saying three statements, two need to be truths and one is a lie. You can add a theme such as what has happened to them this week or it can be general personal statements. The rest of the team then need to guess which is the lie.

This ice breaker will depend on the subject or focus of the meeting but is a fun game to get the team talking between one another on the call. Make sure everyone gets a chance to give the statements. You could even have them prepare statements before the meeting to avoid that awkward silence whilst someone is thinking them up on the fly.

A change of scenery

With a lot of video platforms, you can change the background, so you don’t need to stare at a wall or someone else’s dining room. If you have the software get your staff to change the background to something meaningful to them. It could be a favourite landscape, animal, even something as simple as a favourite colour. Then you can go round the team and ask them why they have chosen that background. You are bound to get some interesting revelations!

Get creative with questions

A really simple way of getting the team talking on a virtual meeting is to ask silly or random questions to get the group interacting. This could be anything such as “Who is your favourite villain in a film?” or “What 3 things would you take with you to a desert island?”

To ensure everyone takes part direct the team as to who will be answering the questions next, this helps to avoid that awkward silence when nobody knows who should talk next.

There are many more ice breakers out there to choose from to make virtual meetings a bit more relaxed and fun. Why not try one of these out during your next meeting and let us know how they go?

To find out more about how you can support your team virtually from standard team meetings to learning sessions to overcoming business challenges of remote working contact us today.

Keep an eye out for a future article on icebreakers for a virtual classroom. The technical functionality allows far more creativity!