The purpose of icebreaker questions is to stimulate conversation and help you get to know people better. You can use these questions almost anywhere you need to lighten the mood or encourage a real bonding experience.
Hundreds of books and studies explored icebreakers in a work setting, but there’s one challenge: many icebreaker activities are not adapted for virtual teams. So choosing the right icebreaker questions and activities becomes crucial for modern teams.
You need to ensure your icebreakers will work smoothly within both your digital environment and your digital team culture. And it’s hard to overstate the value of icebreakers. Here are just some of the main benefits of icebreakers:
- Icebreakers help team members get to know one another and explore topics that are otherwise ignored in a traditional work environment.
- Icebreakers help to quickly onboard new team members and make them feel comfortable in your company, thus increasing their productivity and focus in the first months of their work.
- Icebreaker questions facilitate collaboration between various departments and forge connections between employees that wouldn’t meet each other by the virtue of their work alone.
In this article, we’ll share the best icebreaker questions for both small and big virtual teams. We’ll also add fun icebreaker activities adapted for a virtual setting. Let’s dive in!
How to Ask Icebreaker Questions in a Virtual Team
The most straightforward way to add icebreakers questions to your virtual team-building efforts is to find a list of questions and start asking them during your next meeting.
But there are several problems with this approach:
- Hard to moderate. Simply asking everyone questions quickly gets out of hand as some people will take much time to voice their replies while more introverted team members will keep their engagement to a minimum.
You’ll have to constantly engage former while keeping in check latter.
- Hard to discuss something in detail. Suppose you liked someone’s response and want to elaborate on that. In a group discussion, it’s not that easy because you’ll be taking time from others.
That’s why team members often resort to some generic responses, which often leads to superficial discussions.
- Hard to automate. If you want icebreakers to have a long-lasting impact on your team’s productivity, level of trust, and collaboration, you have to be consistent.
That means you need to gather up and moderate everyone regularly, track what your team already answered, on top of that, come up with unique icebreakers every week.
That takes a lot of time.
There’s a more effective solution to all three of these challenges: automated icebreakers conducted directly in your Slack or MS Teams.
Here’s how you can regularly send unique icebreaker questions to selected team members on autopilot and facilitate deep and insightful team discussions using Geekbot:
In Geekbot’s dashboard, choose the “Pizza Toppings” template:
Pick your schedule: when do you want icebreaker questions to be sent, how often do you want to send them, and who will receive the questions:
Find the perfect combination for your team! For example, you can send one small question every day or have a complete icebreaker session on Fridays!
Geekbot will automatically send icebreaker questions to every team member on your team in Slack, asking for their reply.
After that, Geekbot gathers all team replies in a designated channel where team members can discuss responses in detail using Slack threads.
Geekbot currently has a library of team bonding icebreakers and the library of questions will only grow over time.
Here are the main benefits of running icebreaker questions in slack using Geekbot:
- No distractions. Team members are free to answer the questions or contribute to someone else’s responses whenever they have time. No more long-winded forced meetings that you have power through before getting back to your pressing tasks.
- Perfect for distributed teams. Virtual team members are often located in different countries and time zones. While some team members are just beginning their day in the morning, others might already be wrapping up.
Asynchronous approach to icebreakers ensures people will answer questions when they are most ready, producing insightful and deep responses.
- Automated process from start to finish. After the initial 5-minute setup, Geekbot will do everything for your team building on autopilot: send unique questions, notify members, gather responses, and share them with your team.
- A complete history of questions and replies. Geekbot stores all the responses and threads in a separate Slack channel of your choice. That means you can easily access past discussions, modify questions, or track your engagement over time.
- NLP-analysis of responses. Geekbot applies NLP-analysis to your team responses, automatically building a graph of your team’s happiness levels.
This is an excellent opportunity to gain a birds-eye view of the results of your team-building efforts and identify any issues related to your team’s well-being before they start affecting your productivity.
If you want to try Geekbot in action, jump on our 10-members free plan and join thousands of remote teams who already reinvented their productivity with Geekbot.
Pro-Tip: you can also use Geekbot for conducting productivity-boosting asynchronous daily stand-ups, auto-scheduled retrospectives, anonymous surveys, and so much more!
Icebreaker Questions For Small Virtual Teams [<10 team members]
Small teams have this advantage during icebreaker sessions: there are not that many team members to ask questions. Such a scenario allows for every team member to take their time and dive deep into their response.
That’s why the perfect icebreaker questions for small teams are those that spawn meaningful discussion around a certain topic and increase the level of trust.
After all, teams with high levels of trust report a 50% productivity increase, 106% more energy at work, and 76% more engagement.
Here are some of our favorite icebreaker questions for small virtual teams:
- What is one present you will never forget?
- Tell us one thing that you really like about yourself.
- How would you spend your time if you had a time machine that could only be used once? Which point in history or the future would you choose to visit?
- What would you do differently if this week were to repeat itself?
- What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
- What would you change if you only had the chance to change ONE thing in the world today?
- During a house fire, which three items would you try to save?
- If you could talk to anyone alive today, who would that be?
- When you wake up in the morning, what is your favorite thing to do?
- Who is your favorite movie character, and why?
- Did you receive the name of someone special or does it have a special meaning?
- What is the scariest thing you have ever done?
- Do you have a favorite place in the world?
- Which of your senses would you give up if you had to (hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, tasting)?
- What animal would you be and why?
- Would you prefer a cat or a dog as a pet?
- If you find a dead insect in your salad at a friend’s or relative’s house for dinner, what would you do?
- You could have an endless supply of any food. What would it be?
- This past week, what was the best thing that happened to you?
- What movie, book, or video did you watch/read recently that you would recommend?
- If a genie could grant you three wishes, what would they be?
- How did you get your first job? What was it like?
- If you could give one million dollars to one charity, which one would you choose and why?
Icebreaker Questions For Large Virtual Teams [>15 team members]
In large teams, time is a pressing issue. If you have 30 team members and everyone takes 3 minutes to voice their response, you’ll have a 90-minute meeting where everyone spends 87 minutes listening to others.
To avoid that, you can opt for asynchronous icebreaker sessions with Geekbot, or choose icebreaker questions that don’t take much time to answer and yet provide enough insight about the person who’s asking them.
Here are some of our favorite icebreaker questions for large virtual teams:
- What are your favorite summer activities?
- In your opinion, what would be the best place on earth to visit, and why?
- Do you wish to alter anything about your physical appearance?
- How would you like your home to be improved?
- Could you tell us what your dream job would be?
- If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
- What is one goal you’d like to accomplish during your lifetime?
- Do you prefer the mornings or the evenings?
- Which Disney movie is your favorite, and why?
- What do you want to be famous for?
- How do you spend your free time?
- What song gets you dancing every time you hear it?
- What is your most memorable celebrity sighting?
- Who did you want to be when you were growing up?
- If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
- If your life was turned into a movie, what kind of film would it be? Would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic comedy, an action film, or science fiction?
- If your life were made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
- Which chocolate bar would you be if you were one?
- What would be your favorite birthday celebration?
- As a child, which superhero was your favorite and why?
- Who is your role model?
- What is the biggest mistake that you have ever made?
- Tell us your pet peeve or an interesting thing about you that you dislike.
- Name something a family member does that you admire.
- What three words would you use to describe yourself?
- What kind of car do you drive? How do you choose a car?
- Do you have a secret vice?
- What would be your ideal place to live if you had the choice?
- Which habit would you really like to break?
We hope these icebreaker questions will help your virtual team to learn more about each other and form a long-lasting bond to improve collaboration, increase trust, and boost productivity.
If you want to effortlessly and regularly send your team original and engaging icebreaker questions, try Geekbot.
With Geekbot, you can send unique icebreaker questions on autopilot and conduct surveys, polls, and daily standup meetings directly in Slack. You can even apply NLP analysis to team responses and track their happiness and engagement levels over time!
Try our 10-people free plan and push your team morale and productivity to the next level!
Frequently asked questions
What is a good virtual icebreaker?
A good virtual icebreaker question is the one that facilitates engagement and trust in a virtual environment where people often can’t see each other and mostly rely on messages and audio feedback. Such a question ensures that even remote and distributed teams can have engaging conversations and form a deep bond without being located in the same office.
How do you break the ice in a virtual meeting?
You can break the ice by either telling a short story about one of your recent experiences or telling a professional joke. The best virtual icebreaker questions are designed to elicit an engaging response and allow team members to converse on the same topic and have fun.
What are some fun ways to start a virtual meeting?
Start your virtual meeting with praise, a joke, an icebreaker question, or a short brief. Your praise can highlight any recent employee achievement, but the best option is to praise a team-wide achievement or find a way to include everyone when discussing progress. If you want to start a virtual meeting with an icebreaker question, make sure it’s short and engaging.