Remote work and virtual collaboration are no foreign concepts to the members of the Sonophilia Foundation community. Given how much of the global population had to adjust their lives around remote work recently, we decided to compile a small collection of well-tested and creative check-in exercises – also known as ice-breakers – to utilize in virtual meetings.
These ice-breakers are designed to help facilitators cut through the tension of the awkward silence in meetings and set a relaxed, productive, and creative tone in any virtual setting. The list has been tried and validated many times by our community and we can attest that all the items are fun and easily accessible for interactive workshops, thought-provoking discussions, and business meetings. So have fun!
- Flash Fiction is thus called because attendees are invited to write a story with the absolute minimum of words, in this case, just six words. Participants are typically given a couple of minutes to prepare before presenting for the rest of the group. This exercise works well in both small groups, as well as in larger groups of up to 25 people.
One of the most famous flash fiction stories is attributed to Ernest Hemingway, and it goes a little something like this: For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. The story is remarkable because it opens up narrative gaps that have the potential to spin further into the imagination of the listener. For this reason, we Sonophilians like to call this exercise the Hemingway-Way. Sonophilians praise the Hemingway-Way as a wonderful strategy to make sincere, but memorable, and short, but creative self-introductions in virtual meetings.
- The Memory Game has people taking a good look at the other attendees, switching off video mode for about 60 seconds, and changing at least two things about their physical appearance, visual background, or digital settings. The person who can identify the most differences wins the round. This tends to work best in small break-out groups of a maximum of three to four people.
The Memory Game offers a lot of fun and laughter to kick off virtual meetings. It provides a natural bonding experience between partners, as paying close attention to each other is key. It also allows everyone to come up with subtle, creative ways for changing something in their virtual appearance.
- The Virtual Gadgethon. The concept is simple: Grab the most unusual digital or analog device you own and explain to everyone what it does and why it matters to you. When you communicate a set time frame to keep the ball rolling and to ensure efficiency, this exercise works in all group sizes. It may also be helpful to announce the gadgethon beforehand to allow participants a chance to prepare.
It is incredible how many different and funky devices people own and can tell you about passionately with the Virtual Gadgethon! We once had someone share a tuning fork that could be used for sound therapy. Another time, we had a pair of ordinary-looking goggles – sans headphones – that played music in high-fidelity sound quality that was only audible to the person wearing it.
The possibilities for creative ice-breakers are endless. We’ve highlighted just a few here. We’re always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to open the floor in any virtual setting and would love to hear about your creative ice-breakers. Let us know in the comments below.