Starting Strong: How Icebreakers Can Enhance Engagement in Virtual Meetings and Trainings

In today’s business world, virtual meetings and training sessions are commonplace. While they have many benefits, including convenience, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility, they can also present unique challenges, such as a lack of engagement from participants, communication barriers, difficulty building connections, and struggles with technology. This is where the practice of using icebreakers can provide a strong and effective start to your virtual meetings or training sessions.

What is an Icebreaker?

An icebreaker is an activity, game or question that is designed to break down barriers, encourage participation, and create a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere. Icebreakers are typically used at the beginning of meetings or training sessions to help participants feel more comfortable and establish connections with each other. They are also useful for promoting diversity and inclusion by creating opportunities for participants to share their backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.

While it is thought that the original term icebreaker was used back in the 19th century in social, in person gatherings to describe someone who helped break the ice or alleviate some of the tension at the beginning of a gathering, the use of the term in the corporate setting is believed to have been adopted somewhere in the 20th century.

Benefits of Using Icebreakers

Icebreakers  can provide a variety of benefits for virtual meetings and training sessions. Here are some of the main benefits:

  • Encouraging Participation – Icebreakers can help to encourage participation by providing a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere where participants feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.
  • Building Connections – Icebreakers can help to build connections between participants by creating opportunities for them to get to know each other and find common ground.
  • Promoting Diversity and Inclusion – Icebreakers can promote diversity and inclusion by creating opportunities for participants to share their backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.
  • Increases Creativity – Icebreakers can help to stimulate creativity and encourage attendees to think outside the box. This can be especially useful in brainstorming sessions or when trying to generate new ideas.
  • Display Comfort or Challenges with Technology – Icebreakers help participants find the chat function on the platform and can also allow them to find the ability to unmute and mute themselves. While many are more familiar than ever with virtual platforms, some may need directions on specific platforms they don’t use day to day.

Icebreaker Length

Most icebreakers should take no more than 10-15 minutes, although some activities may be shorter or longer depending on the complexity or number of participants. It can also vary based on the overall length of the planned virtual meeting or training session. It’s important to keep in mind that icebreakers should be fun and engaging, but also relevant to the purpose of the meeting or training. If an icebreaker goes on for too long or becomes too involved, it may lose its effectiveness and become a distraction rather than a useful tool for building connections and engagement.

Examples of Icebreakers

There are many different types of icebreakers that can be used in virtual meetings and training sessions. Here are some examples:

  • Introduce Yourself – Ask participants to introduce themselves and share something unique or interesting about themselves. Location can be an important part of this icebreaker, as participants could be anywhere in the world.
  • Two Truths and a Lie – Ask participants to share three statements about themselves, two of which are true and one of which is false. Other participants then have to guess which statement is the lie. This game can be a fun and interactive way to get to know each other and encourage participation. This typically brings out some humor and some surprises.
  • What are you currently watching, listening to or reading? – Ask participants to share their favorite television series, movie, podcast, or book. It’s always fun to discover new entertainment options.
  • Would You Rather? – Ask participants to choose between two different options, such as “would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?” This game can be a fun and lighthearted way to get participants engaged and thinking creatively.
  • What is your next vacation destination? – Sharing where we have been on vacation or where we plan to go is always a big topic around the company water cooler. For this reason it makes a wonderful ice breakers because most people are looking forward to their next vacation.

Tips for Using Icebreakers Effectively

Here are some tips for using icebreakers effectively in virtual meetings and training sessions:

  • Be Mindful of Cultural Differences – When choosing icebreakers, be mindful of cultural differences and avoid activities that may be insensitive or offensive to some participants.
  • Be Sensitive to Time Constraints – Icebreakers should be long enough to allow participants to feel more comfortable and establish connections with each other, but not so long that they take up too much time from the overall meeting or training session.
  • Keep it Engaging – Choose icebreakers that are fun and interactive to keep participants engaged and motivated. This can help to create a positive and productive atmosphere for the rest of the meeting or training session.
  • Be Creative – Try to choose icebreakers that are creative and unique, rather than relying on the same activities every time. This can help to keep participants interested and engaged.
  • Be Open to Feedback – After using icebreakers in a virtual meeting or training session, be open to feedback from participants. This can help to improve the effectiveness of the icebreakers for future sessions.


In conclusion, icebreakers can be a powerful tool for opening virtual meetings and training sessions more effectively. By providing a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere, building connections between participants, and promoting diversity and inclusion, icebreakers can help to enhance engagement and productivity in virtual communication. By following the tips outlined above, you can use icebreakers effectively and create a positive and productive experience for all your participants.