Are icebreakers useful?

Yes! All of the meetings should have a short icebreaker, even your daily stand-up. Icebreakers allow for team members to quickly chat about a topic/activity that you have proposed.

Why?

Team Motivation SmallA part of your team works far away from the main headquarters, and you have started to notice that those team members are slowly disconnecting: they are less communicative, participate less in meetings, and seem to be less engaged. The truth is that they are lonely and feel very disconnected, fix it with icebreakers.

It only takes 5 minutes to start building up trust, as well as bonding, between team members. The first step to good communication is trust. Team activities, like icebreakers, are the only way for you to build a team where communication flows well, and where people are not afraid to ask each other questions.

How?

  • Explain the activity.
  • Define the order that team members will follow to ensure that everybody participates.
  • Establish a time for each person to speak, ensuring that the meeting will not revolve around one person that talks too much, as well as encouraging others to go beyond only giving one-word answers.

Examples of icebreakers:

Share your interests

  1. Send out an email, several days before the start of the meeting, asking participants to choose something that is meaningful to them (e.g., a shirt, award, photo, etc.).
  2. Have them prepare a short description about what they will be sharing.
  3. Start the video conference and instruct team members that they will have one minute to show the item via their webcam and talk about it. Encourage team members to ask questions.

Timing: Give a 2-min. explanation of the icebreaker, 2 min. per participant, and a 1-min. summary by the facilitator at the end.

Song sharing

  1. Kick off the idea by beginning a team meeting with a song that has a significant meaning to you.
  2. Have the music playing as the team joins the call.
  3. Make sure all team members hear at least some of the song.
  4. After the song is over, explain to the team why you chose the song as your "theme song." Providing an in-depth explanation will set the tone for the rest of the team when it's their turn.
  5. Let the team know that a different person will start the team meetings in the same manner until everyone has had a chance to play his or her song.

Timing: 5 minutes.

Ask random questions

assertiveAsk 1 question that everybody in the team has to answer. Examples:

  • What book are you currently reading?
  • What is the last movie you saw?
  • What do you like about the city where you live?
  • What do you usually eat for breakfast? (An especially interesting question for multicultural teams.)

Timing: Give a 2-min. explanation of the icebreaker, max 1 min. per participant, and a 1-min. summary at the end.

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