Mix things up. “I might suggest swapping facilitator/host responsibilities each month - to spread the monthly workload of making the zoom most engaging. Then each host can come up with their own clever ideas - such as icebreakers for greater connection - we just did the two truths and a lie poll with a few participants at our virtual work holiday party or a bingo for hot topics during the meeting. Or commercial breaks with fun related trivia questions. Or a theme week…can’t wait to see other suggestions.
The best advice I can give from conducting numerous webinars monthly is to shake it up each time to keep it lively and useful.”
Set the mood with a fun tune. “Have music playing as people come in. You can even ask people to submit a song and develop a playlist for that particular group that you can play whenever you need to have something in the background, or just make your own fun mix.”
Map game. Screen-share a map of the world and ask everyone to place a stamp where they were born and each of the places they’ve lived.
GIF game. Share a Padlet link before the meeting and ask everyone to add a GIF that they love or that represents how they’re feeling today. At the top of the meeting, share your screen and have everyone share what GIF they chose and why.
Pet intros. Your furry friend has probably already have made an informal introduction, so why not make it official and have everyone bring their pet to (virtual) work? Pet-less folks can choose to introduce a cherished stuffed animal or a small child instead.
Background shenanigans. Have everyone add a Zoom background before the meeting, then go around and share what you chose and why. Alternatively, choose a theme—such as “city life” or “beach day”—beforehand, and then have everyone vote on whose background is the best fit.
Two truths and a lie. Each person shares 3 things and the group has to guess which is the lie. For smaller groups, keep it conversational and just shout out guesses; for bigger crowds, put the answers on a slide or virtual whiteboard and have everyone annotate a dot with their guesses.
Online trivia. One member recommended QUARMEGA for personalized trivia.
Brightful is a one-stop shop for Zoom-based games and activities suited for both work and family events.
Codenames is available online and allows you to play on multiple devices across a shared board.
Scavenger hunts provide quick and easy Zoom shenanigans. One member describes: "One of my coworkers does 'scavenger hunts' and they're awesome. Things like 'go find the cheapest alcoholic drink you have' or 'weirdest thing on your fridge' or 'craziest hat.'"
Rock, paper, scissors. For Zoom purposes, choose an emoji reaction to represent each choice—for instance, “clap” = rock, “thumbs up” = paper, and “party” = scissors. If everyone’s cameras are on and you want to get a little more active, choose a physical movement for each choice—e.g., raise both hands for rock, throw your arms out to the sides for paper, and cross your arms in an X for scissors. If you’re playing in a large group, the emoji/movement chosen by the most team members wins.
Everyone shares a photo from their phone or computer that is meaningful to them and says why. This is a great activity for Jamboard.
Everyone shares a baby picture before the meeting, then the facilitator shares them all on-screen and everyone has to guess who’s who.
Improv. The host “hands” someone in the next box an “object.” The receiver has to say, “Thank you for handing me this…[fill in the blank]” and then explain what they’re going to do with it. They then hand a new object to the next person. However each person passes the “object” (i.e., if it’s huge, small, smelly, makes you laugh/smile, is very serious, is teeny-tiny) is how the recipient needs to receive it. So, if someone hands you a teeny stinky thing, you have to go with it.
Dress-up day. Exactly how it sounds: Pick a theme and encourage everyone to go all-out!
Stretch and share. The goal is to get everyone standing and moving around to re-energize and re-engage. Ask everyone to set their Zoom screen to the “Gallery” setting, which allows you to see everyone as a set of tiled video screens. Ask everyone (with video on) to stand up and stretch their arms out to each side, then back up until their arms are touching the edges of their video frame like they’re inside a box.
Each person should think of something lovely/kind to share with another person and hold that idea in their hands like a ball. Then everyone will “pass” that love to a person on their left, right, bottom, or top. As someone passes something to you, you will “receive” it by reaching to that side of that side of the video frame and “pass” it along to another side of the video frame.
Zoom Bingo. Ask participants a question that can be answered in one word or a short phrase. Each participant writes their response on a piece of paper and holds it up to the camera. Anyone whose screen has a row, column, or diagonal with all the same responses wins. Simple questions work best, like…
-What was the last thing you had to drink?
-What city are you in now?
-What animal was your first pet?
I Spy. Take turns choosing an object in one of your fellow attendees’ Zoom background and having everyone guess what it is.
Breakout bonding. Create random breakout rooms with two to three people in each. Give them two minutes to complete a task. When the time is up and they return to the main room, they have to briefly present on what they discussed. Ideas for tasks include:
-Tell each other about where you are from, then create a “secret handshake” (set of air gestures over Zoom) inspired by that information.
-Tell each other one of your earliest childhood memories, then create nicknames for each other inspired by that information.
-Tell one other about one recent parenting fail (big or small), then create a life motto inspired by that information.
-Tell each other about one recent success (big or small), then create a touchdown dance inspired by that information.
-Each participant submits the title of their favorite song or the name of their favorite artist. This can be done ahead of time (via email or Google Forms), or in real-time via Zoom private chat. The important thing is not to let other participants know what each person said. The facilitator plays 30 seconds of each person’s favorite song (via Spotify or YouTube), and everyone has to guess which person picked which song.
Cheers if you… Share a series of statements and ask people to raise their coffee cup, hand, or pencil if they agree. Here a few ideas to get you started:
"Give me a cheers if…”
-You worked in your PJs at least once this week.
-You’re wearing yoga pants or pajama bottoms.
-You are homeschooling your kids as well as working from home.
-You had coffee this morning.
-You had tea this morning.
-You slept more than eight hours last night.
-You’ve gone outdoors today.
-You started or finished a TV show this week.
Let’s turn the lens on you. Have everyone share a positive thought based on one of these prompts:
-What are you getting RIGHT?
-What are the silver linings of this year?
-What are you looking forward to?
-In what ways are you redirecting your energies away from negative things and focusing on positive ones?
-Who are you grateful to for helping you along the way this year?
-Think of yourself in the year 2022. What are some of the great things that are happening in your future?
Break out an icebreaker. “It's good to have a ‘question of the day’ that people can ask on their way into the meeting while you are waiting for people to gather, to avoid that Zoom awkwardness where folks sit waiting for something to happen. It can just be something silly like ‘what's the best thing you ate this week?’ or really anything, but it helps to provide something for folks to talk about as you wait to get the meeting started. Also sets a nice tone and helps people feel comfortable with each other quickly.”
We’ve got some ideas to get you started. Customize as needed for your workplace/meet-up!
-What is your favorite restaurant in Brooklyn and why?
-Where did you grow up?
-Name a place you’ve visited that had an impact on your life, and explain why.
-What is one positive thing that has come out of the pandemic for you?
-What was your favorite childhood movie? What did the movie make you think and feel at the time?
-What’s the last great TV show or movie you wanted?
-If you could write a book, what genre would you write it in? Mystery? Thriller? Romance? Historical fiction? Non-fiction?
-What is one article of clothing that someone could wear that would make you walk out on a date with them?
-The zombie apocalypse is coming—who are three people you want on your team?
-What is your most used emoji?
-What’s the most embarrassing fashion trend you used to rock?
-What was the worst haircut you ever had?
-Who was your childhood actor/actress crush?
-Have you ever been told you look like someone famous, and if so, who was it?
-You have your own late-night talk show—who do you invite as your first guest?
-You have to sing karaoke—what song do you pick?
-If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
-If aliens landed on earth tomorrow and offered to take you home with them, would you go?
-What’s your favorite sandwich and why?
-What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
-If you had to delete all but three apps from your phone, which ones would you keep?
-Who is your favorite Disney hero or heroine? Would you trade places with them?
-What fictional family would you be a member of?
-What sport would you compete in if you were in the Olympics?
-What would your superpower be and why?
-As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
-What is your favorite breakfast food?
-What is your favorite dessert?
-What’s your favorite place of all the places you’ve travelled?
-What was the country you last visited outside of the United States?
-What is your favorite meal to cook and why?
-What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?
-If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?
-If you could see one movie again for the first time, what would it be and why?
-If you could rename yourself, what name would you pick?
-If you could have someone follow you around all the time, like a personal assistant, what would you have them do?
-If you could instantly become an expert in something, what would it be?
-If you could be immortal, what age would you choose to stop aging at and why?
-If you could be on a reality TV show, which one would you choose and why?