Remote icebreaker activities

Icebreakers encourage participation by all, helping a sense of connection and shared focus to develop.

There’s real joy in me when I can create bonding relationships at work. As awkward they can be, Icebreakers create a better onboarding experience and build rapport with your coworkers.

Jeff Gothelf asked the community to share their experiences. So here is a recap of the message thread, mixed up with my recommendations as well.


  1. Putting a post-it on a world map where you’d like to go on vacation. Then breakout rooms to say hi and share why you want to go there.
  2. Give everyone 20 seconds to “find something yellow” then introduce themselves and their yellow thing.
  3. Ask people to get a red/green item that we’ll later use as visual signals for yes/no.
  4. In groups of 4, you have a couple of minutes to find 3 things you have in common.
  5. Submit an “extremely you” photo in advance. Photos displayed randomly. When yours is up: intro yourself, say what you’re doing in the photo, why you chose it.
  6. One person describes a simple illustration & the others try to draw it based on that oral description. I ran it with a group of ~200, in breakout groups of 5.
  7. Zoom Roulette — random breakout rooms of 5 people or less, tasked with a question to discuss, what they hope to take away from the workshop, or simply introduce themselves and tell about their weekend.
  8. What’s a typical food in your region. You can easily add variations e.g. by asking from where you are calling or let others guess.
  9. Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt. Basically, everyone did a slide to talk about their favorite destination.
  10. We sketched out 3 scenes from our favorite movies, took a picture with the phone to share, and then played guess the movie and why we like it.
  11. Everyone draws on a post-it a gift they recently received and presents whether they liked or not. Then everyone draws the perfect gift they would like to have.
  12. Describe a memorable music experience from your past.
  13. Add the emoji that best describes your current state of mind to this slide/board followed by a round table of short voiceovers by each person.
  14. Show an object from home and tell why it is there.

What about introverts?

Sandy Heierbacher, Founder of NCDD, recommends in her article Facilitating & Introversion: Tips for Engaging Quiet People:

  • Moment of silence. Because introverts take in so much information, they sometimes need extra time to “catch up”. To create opportunities for this, we created “silence” signs anyone could use to request the group to be quiet for a few minutes – no explanation needed.
  • Breaks. Introverts sometimes need alone time to recharge. So we gave participants permission to take a break at any time, for any reason, no questions asked.
  • OK to pass. Introverts sometimes need additional time to formulate their thoughts. So, in structured go-arounds and sharing times, participants can “pass” and talk later.
  • Don’t hold back. “Quieter people” were reminded that they too have contributions valuable to the group and not to “hold back” sharing.

Online resources and tools


  • Workshop facilitation is part of the group of soft skills that every person in a communication role show not only have, but to improve continually.
  • Individuals facilitating adult learning need a medley of teaching methods to be effective (Galbraith, 2004).
  • It helps when the audience knows each other. Even then, finding things in common is harder than you think.
  • Learning about each other not only creates a feeling of camaraderie but also it allows you to see the human aspect on each one despite their labels and hierarchies.
  • These activities lead to a free exchange of information and enhanced communication between group members (Zwaagstra, 1997).
  • It’s okay if not everyone wants to participate. Don’t force them. Give the introverts space and breaks. However, this doesn’t mean you have to let them out of the conversation.

Additional reference

Chlup DT, Collins TE. Breaking the Ice: Using Ice-breakers and Re-energizers with Adult Learners. Adult Learning. 2010;21(3-4):34-39. doi:10.1177/104515951002100305