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Virtual Icebreakers

Leading a team with remote workers in is tough. As we say here, remote teams are harder to engage. The distance that people are from one another can have an impact. But the bigger impact comes from just being physically remote from one another. The lack of opportunity to just “bump into” people at the watercooler, for example, simply doesn’t present itself when there is no watercooler to bump into.

So if there are no “natural” opportunities for team members to develop their relationships beyond the daily workload, good leaders have to manufacture them. One great way of doing that, is to dedicate a small proportion of time within their whole team online meetings to something that is more about fun than it is about the day-to-day work. And there’s no better time to use them than right at the beginning of the meeting. People often call such agenda items “icebreakers”. For online meetings, virtual icebreakers are deployed.

Origin

Originally, the word referred to special kinds of ships of course. We’re focusing here on the other type of icebreaker. Yet, there are many similarities – hence the use of the word.

The ship version refers to the special ability of such ships to clear paths by pushing though pack ice – the frozen water on top of a canal or sea. Once a path is cleared, other ships can follow in the wake of the lead ship. If you couldn’t see this largest of links to meeting icebreakers before, you surely must now. Where leaders lead, team members follow. Hopefully towards a better, more productive meeting!

Meetings and professional options

What are the options, though, when a leader needs a virtual icebreaker? There are many, many websites that offer a collection of icebreakers leaders can run themselves. As far as we can see, they all offer the same kind of activities. And most of them are variations on party games of some kind. They can be fun, but people can quickly become bored with repetitive meeting exercises. There’s only so many trivia quizzes people can stand, for example!

Professionals appreciate a professionally created icebreaker

That’s when people turn to professional options. The advantage of such activities is that they can add to the appreciation levels of the participants. People really can appreciate well designed virtual icebreakers. And that leads to nice, warm feelings for the leaders who introduce them to their meetings, of course. More than that, professional options often add some genuine team learning to the mix so that the session is more than just fun. And people appreciate that too.

There are some disadvantages as well. Professional activities often can require more time to be allotted to them than a meeting agenda can really afford. And, speaking of affording things, they can be difficult to justify financially for a relatively short time. And some are unable to cope with the group size – either because it is larger than the activity can handle or because it is too small to run effectively.

An excellent choice

Our MiniTreasure activity is, we think, an ideal option for anyone looking for virtual icebreakers. It has the advantage of being a professional activity, without the disadvantages of group size restrictions of any kind or cost. It is often used by very small client teams – sometimes as small as just 3 people! And also by very large groups – indeed, even into the many thousands. And it doesn’t cost an arm or a leg, either. As we write this, the cost per person for up to 100 participants is just $15. So, a team of 10 people can have a great icebreaker in a virtual setting for just $150. And as teams get larger, we publish a discount structure that drops the per person cost. That makes it even more attractive as the group size increases!

If your meetings sometimes feel frosty – especially at the start – you could do much worse than adding a good icebreaker to your agenda. It can be worth its weight in gold. And MiniTreasure is a great place to start if you’re thinking of making it a professional affair.

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