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Tired of cringe-inducing icebreakers? We asked professional facilitators to share the virtual icebreakers they actually use to kick off their remote workshops.

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The word “icebreaker” is basically taboo at this point. 

Most participants clam up as soon as the word leaves a facilitator’s lips, as they scramble to think about yet another “interesting” fact about themselves.

@ShitFacilitator

But virtual icebreakers don’t have to be cringe-inducing. Done right, they can create connections between participants and get people in a productive mindset.

To help you choose the right activity to kick off your next session, we asked the expert facilitators of the Butter Community to share their favorite battle-tested icebreakers for virtual meetings and workshops.

🧊 Icebreaker Templates: We’ve created free Butter templates for nearly every icebreaker on the list, so you can put them into action in only a few clicks.

But first, we’re going to share some tips for running a kick-butt icebreaker.

Why you should run virtual icebreakers

Facilitators most commonly use icebreakers to create connections between people that don’t know each other. But you can also use icebreakers with seasoned teams to boost the energy at the start of any remote workshop, meeting, or new project. 

This is especially true for virtual meetings and collaboration sessions when you need everyone to snap out of their auto-pilot “Zoom selves” to be more present and engaged.

Icebreakers involve everyone early on and encourage participation for what’s to come later. By running an icebreaker, you also create the implication that this is an active session where their contributions are valued.

Learning Experience Designer Romy Alexandra, calls this creating connection before content:

“We often skip over running icebreakers and energizers because we feel pressure to get to the meat of the meeting. However, you have to create opportunities for vulnerable sharing and psychological safety before people feel they can show up authentically in the space and truly engage with the content.”

By running icebreakers at the start of your virtual sessions, you can:

  • Create meaningful connections
  • Temperature check the room
  • Warm people up for the topic
  • Get people feeling energized and creative
  • Invite vulnerability and authenticity
  • Create empathy
  • Introduce participants to the tools

However, all icebreakers are not created equal. 

“Forced connection for the sake of connection is not real connection,” said Romy. “Nobody cares what your favorite ice cream flavor is. It doesn’t create a deeper connection between the team.”

So what makes a great versus a not-so-great icebreaker?

Best practices for virtual icebreakers

Your virtual icebreakers should be short, interactive, memorable, fun, and easy to follow through on.

Simple, right? 😅

Here are some tips for running icebreakers that will land with your participants.

Tip #1. Match the icebreaker to the session goal

When planning your icebreaker, think about what you’re trying to accomplish in the session.

Are you trying to create connections, boost people’s creativity, or enter a reflective state? Choose an icebreaker that accomplishes that goal.

"I like making a connection to the content of the day,” says facilitator Susanne Heiss. “If I can find something that has a relation to the actual piece of work we’ll be doing, that is my preferred option."

This also means matching the tone you’re trying to nurture throughout the workshop. You might not want to run a silly icebreaker in advance of a heavy topic. 

Tip #2. Tailor it to the group size

Some icebreaker activities are hard to scale. If your group is bigger than eight people, pick one that allows for breakouts or simultaneous participation.

“Icebreakers don't need to be done as a whole group,” says Cat Hase, Creativity Coach at Imagine If Ltd. “Paired conversations or smaller groups are equally good for getting people ready.”

Tip #3. Be mindful of time versus value

If you have a big group and little time, go for something simple. There’s nothing more unwanted than an introduction round robin that drags on and on and decreases the energy in the room. 

On the other hand, if you’re trying to create connections at the onset of a multi-month project, it’s worth spending significant time on an icebreaker.

Tip #4. Explain the purpose

If you want participants’ full buy-in, they need to understand the “why” behind the icebreaker before they will commit to your instructions.

If they understand what’s in it for them, they’ll give you better participation, no matter how out of their comfort zone they are. 

Tip #5. But don’t call it an icebreaker

“Don’t say ‘Let's start with an Icebreaker!’ because it makes people cringe,” says Jan Keck. “Just get into the activity. I call mine ‘Ice Melters’ because, to me, that sounds less painful than ice BREAKING.”

Cat agrees. “I feel like it’s best kept to internal language—participants don't need to know these things. The language alone makes them groan, but what they don’t know won't hurt them 😉.”

Tip #6. Give alternatives for introverts

As with any other facilitation activity, allow for different forms of participation to account for different personality types.

“Design it for introverts. Ease into the session with something simple, rather than asking for something that takes too much vulnerability,” says Jan.

To do this, Susanne uses quiet reflection time to start her icebreakers. “I like giving one or two minutes of Think & Write, or to use a board with sticky notes. Both approaches enable introverts to think and share. Or I break them into smaller groups to take off the weight of having to ‘perform’ in front of the whole group."

Community Builder Rosie Sherry adds, “I find lots of people are uncomfortable and not ready to talk, so I like to give people options—or options to not participate—and not feel excluded as a result.”

“For example, I love sharing insights as a group in a Google Doc or a Miro board, then giving people the option to talk about it, but not make it so everyone has to,” shared Rosie.

You can also give effort-level alternatives, such as “Take us on a camera tour of your office” versus “point your camera towards the window so we can see your view”.

Give them different communication channel options as well. Tell participants they can use the chat, their camera, or their microphone.

Tip #7. Introduce the tools

If you’re using new tools in your session, use your icebreaker to get people feeling comfortable with the toolset so that tech challenges don’t interfere with the rest of the workshop.

For example, if you’re going to be running a Miro collaboration session in Butter, run the icebreaker in Miro too.

If you’re using Butter, you can break the ice with this Intro to Butter: Rules of Engagement flashcard deck.

Tip #8. Lead by example

Your energy is contagious. The more energy you put into your icebreaker as the facilitator, the more you’ll get back from your participants.

But you can also acknowledge that not everyone will be coming into the session with the same energy levels. 

"I like to start by acknowledging that we come in with a mix of feelings, happy or unhappy thoughts, and things of joy and concern,” says Susanne. “So I tell them they’re free to share something that feels as light as a feather or as heavy as a stone.”

Tip #9. Keep it fresh

“For groups that do a lot of icebreakers, it feels like it's the same ones over and over,” said Jan.

Mix up your icebreakers to keep you and your participants on their toes. To get you started, we’ve compiled this list!

Quick check-in icebreakers

Want to start with a quick mood check-in or simple question to get people engaged? Try one of these check-ins.

1. Sheep Scale Check-in

Dr. Myriam Hadnes, workshops.work

Using a Butter flashcard or a Miro board, participants stamp themselves on the sheep that represents their current mood. Then, invite a few people to share why they chose their sheep.

This cute check-in is perfect for creating energy in large groups at the start of a session or when you come back from a break. It’s also a great way to gauge participants' energy levels.

👉 Try the flashcard in Butter

2. Where in the world are you?

Anamaria Dorgo, Butter

You can see this in action at the start of this ButterMixer.

Using this interactive Butter flashcard, participants drop a stamp on the map to show where they’re joining from. It’s a nice way to quickly visualize the spread of the team.

Then, you can call out participants in the most interesting locations to share where they’re joining from.

👉 Try the flashcard in Butter

3. The Nic Cage-o-nator

Carlos Perez, Purple Sector

This is just like the sheep scale, but a little more Cage-y. 

“When we’re trying to lighten the mood and get people laughing—whether they know each other or not, our go-to icebreaker is gauging how people are feeling using Nicolas Cage reactions. Thanks go to MURAL for inspiring this one,” said Carlos.

We don't know the original source of this image, but Carlos got it from StareCat.com 🤷

👉 Try the flashcard in Butter

4. Finger Check-in

Sara Huang, Bureau Tw!st

Frame a question for the group that’s related to the session. For example, “How do you feel when I mention [topic]?”

Ask participants to grab a washable pen and ask them to draw that feeling as an emoji on their index finger.

Give participants a minute to draw, then invite everyone to show their finger on camera on the count of 3-2-1. If they can’t turn on their camera, they can drop their emoji in the chat.

Connection-building icebreakers

If your goal is to create connections and foster trust, go with one of these icebreakers.

5. My First Job

Jonathan Courtney, AJ&Smart

This is a personal favorite of Jonathan’s. Everyone takes turns sharing their first job and a lesson they learned from it. You get to learn something new without getting too uncomfortably personal!

If you want to add a little more mystery to this icebreaker, use an anonymous Butter poll where everyone writes down their first job and what they learned from it (leaving out their name). Then, the group can take turns matching people to their first jobs.

👉 Try this icebreaker in Butter

6. Guess who icebreaker

Jakub Michalski, AJ&Smart

Using an anonymous poll, everyone submits a fact about themselves that others might not know. The rest of the group then tries to guess which fact belongs to whom, one fact at a time.

Once guesses are in, the fact owner reveals themselves and tells the backstory.

“This is a great team-building icebreaker as it encourages people to reveal something new about themselves. It can spark conversations, bring people closer together, and foster empathy within a group,” said Jakub.

👉 Get the template in Butter

You can also use this Guess Who template on Miro if you prefer having it on a whiteboard.

7. Who are you?

Romy Alexandra, Romy-Alexandra.com

“This icebreaker forges connections by getting people to share as much as they can about themselves in short breakouts,” said Romy.

Participants are put into breakout pairs and asked to answer the question “Who are you?” by using as many signifiers about themselves as they can (e.g., mother, facilitator, pet owner, etc.).

They are then re-paired for a second round, with a catch: they’re not allowed to use any of the same signifiers. This is repeated for a third round before ending with a debrief.

“By pushing people beyond their usual answers, it encourages sharing at a deeper level. Special thanks to Ahmad El Nashar for first introducing me to this activity!”

👉 Get the template in Butter

8. Networking with a twist

Anamaria Dorgo, Butter

This is a build-your-own icebreaker challenge! To start, run an anonymous Butter poll to ask the group to come up with icebreaker questions they think would help strangers create meaningful connections.

Once the group votes on their favorite questions, you’ll send them into several rounds of breakout groups to answer the questions they selected.

👉 Try it in Butter

9. Creating Connections

Susanne Heiss, The Texturalists

This one is great as a vulnerable check-in exercise—especially for groups who already know each other. 

Ask, “What is something you'd like to share that is not written in your CV, that others don’t know about you yet?”

As the facilitator, start by giving your own surprising example. For example, a childhood dream or a surprising hobby. Be bold and vulnerable and the group will be as well.

“In some of my sessions, there have been beautiful responses from participants. For example, one shared he just proposed to his girlfriend, another shared they had a summer job in a slaughterhouse, and another shared he has a pilot’s license,” said Susanne.

10. This-or-That Icebreaker

Anamaria Dorgo, Butter

In this exercise, you’ll run three breakout rounds of up to four people for five minutes each. Each breakout has a five-card flashcard deck with questions or "this or that” affirmations for the group to answer.

For each round, people will be put with a different group. As discussions progress, so will the depth of questions they need to answer.

In the first round, they’ll be asked simple questions like, “City OR forest?” By the last round, they’ll have to answer questions like, “What personal or professional turning point are you most grateful for?”

End with a sharing round to discuss the experience.

👉 Get the Butter template

11. On and Off

Stefy Bolaños, p1440

This icebreaker is just like “never have I ever,” but with your webcam.

One participant shares something about themself, such as a like, dislike, hobby, or trait (e.g., “I love climbing volcanoes”). The others will signal whether they share that characteristic by turning their cameras on or off to agree or disagree.

“This icebreaker is ideal for groups that don’t know each other well because it gives you a quick visual of people’s tastes, similarities, and shared experiences,” said Stefy.

12. Co-counting

Meir Benezra, Design Playing

This is a simple counting game where the group either wins or loses together. This is an amazing team awareness and rule-setting activity that forces people to find creative solutions and achieve unity.

These are the only rules:

  1. People need to count consecutively from 1 to 10 in the chat
  2. Only one number per person at a time
  3. If a number is said more than once or out of order, start over at 1

Here’s the trick for the group to discover: anything else goes.

“Let people find creative ways to find order in this chaos. They can talk, organize, plan, and find gestures. If anyone objects that something is against the rules, remind them you have not set such a rule. This will get them to relax and try to find more sinister ways to hack the game. This way, you will reach 10 as a team.”

13. Two Truths, One Lie

Achille Zambon, Consultant & Facilitator, Butter Community Core Team

Each participant has one minute to come up with three facts about themselves—where two are true and one is false. The more bizarre, the better. 🤓

After participants add their truths and lies to a Miro board, the other participants will dot-vote on which they think is false.

Once everyone has voted, give everyone the chance to share their lie!

👉 Try it in Butter 

14. 3-minute Know Me

Stefy Bolaños, p1440

In this icebreaker, you’ll run three-person breakouts where participants answer as many icebreaker questions as they can from the flashcard deck within one minute.

While one person answers, another person watches the clock. After one minute, they’ll rotate roles.

“I learned this activity from Louie Montoya from d.School. Not only does this help break the ice for people who are just meeting for the first time, it also gives them the chance to wear different hats during the activity, preparing them for what’s to come in a larger workshop,” said Stefy.

👉 Try it in Butter

15. Lip-sync My Story

Meir Benezra, Design Playing

Participants are split into two-person breakouts. Each person will tell a true story about themselves for four minutes while the other partner memorizes it. The story should be connected to the topic of the workshop. After four minutes, they switch roles.

When they come back to the main group, each partner tells their partner’s story, with a catch…

While one partner tells the story, the original storyteller will be spotlighted on camera, but on mute. They will lip-sync and mime the story while their partner tells it—as if they’re the one speaking.

“Tell people to embellish the stories as physically as possible. This will help activate their emotions further by making connections between the body and the story.”

Meir suggests making it as participatory as possible. “Fill the room with reactions. Clap and celebrate at the end of every story.”

👉 Try it in Butter

16. Superpower Interview

Luisa Bergholz, LIMONATA COACHING

In this conversational icebreaker, participants pair up in breakouts and take five minutes each to interview each other about their greatest strengths. 

After ten minutes, every interviewer shares their interviewee’s superpower back with the main group. 

Depending on the group size, you can decide whether participants share each other’s superpowers verbally, in chat, or on a whiteboard.

Creative and drawing icebreakers

These icebreakers are ideal for a creative session such as a brainstorming or design exercise.

17. Collective Doodle

Anamaria Dorgo, Butter

This doodling exercise is a fun way to get people thinking about the session topic as they join a meeting, workshop, or virtual networking event.

It’s simple: participants doodle their response to a prompt on a whiteboard as they join the session.

For example, include a brief such as, “Collectively draw what ‘connection in virtual spaces’ means to you. But there's a catch: each new doodle has to connect to, or start from another doodle.

Debrief with one or two questions, e.g., “How did it feel to draw something collectively and anonymously? How have the instructions constrained or freed your imagination?”

👉 Try it in Butter

18. Pictionary Icebreaker

Jonathan Courtney, AJ&Smart

The Pictionary icebreaker is exactly what it sounds like: a few rounds of Pictionary using the Butter whiteboard to get your group warmed up.

Send a designated sketcher a Pictionary prompt (you can use this Pictionary generator) through direct message, and give them up to one minute on the whiteboard until people guess the right answer.

👉 Try it in Butter

19. Dress-up Icebreaker

Jing Foon Yu, Jingeling

“I like to design MURAL boards where the participants themselves are featured. The participants dress themselves up and then present their clothing choices to the group,” said Jing Foon.

Before your session, you can plunk everyone’s photo into a Miro board, mural, or Butter whiteboard. You can then either ask them to draw clothing on themselves, or you can give them a bunch of clip-art clothing items to choose from.

👉 Try it in Butter

20. Personal Collage Icebreaker

Hannah Baker, The Fountain Institute

In this activity, every participant makes a personal collage in Miro or MURAL that represents who they are outside of work.

“Sharing more about who we are and what we enjoy outside of the office helps build trust, encourages communication, and increases collaboration across teams,” says Hannah.

To prepare for this activity, collect a variety of assets to use in their collage, and then create an individual working space for each participant.

👉 Try it in Butter

21. Drawing From Four Corners

Thomas Lahnthaler, The Crisis Compass

For this drawing icebreaker, split participants into four-person breakouts. In their breakouts, they’ll be asked to draw from one of the four corners of the whiteboard in complete silence for ten minutes. Laughing and gesturing are allowed, but no talking!

The drawing gets more collaborative over the course of the ten minutes as the participants run out of drawing real estate.

Once the ten minutes are up, ask everyone to share their drawings, and answer reflection questions, such as, “How did it feel? What went through your head? What happened to the whiteboard? How would you describe the process?”

“This icebreaker exposes participants' assumptions, fostering psychological safety and belonging in the group or team,” says Thomas.

👉 Try it in Butter

22. Share Your Ideal Self

Rakesh Kasturi, Sprint Doctor

Give participants 15 minutes to draw their ideal selves on a sheet of paper. 

Give them a prompt such as, "What do you look like when you are bringing forth the best of who you are? Perhaps it’s an image of you on a mountaintop being more confident and adventurous. Or maybe it’s something that represents you metaphorically, like an animal.

Once the time is up, ask everyone to take a picture of their drawing and share it on a Miro board or MURAL. If you have time, you can also challenge the group to guess what this drawing was about with sticky notes.

“This activity creates a sense of team cohesion by giving the group the chance to bond on a deeper level with one team member at a time,” said Rakesh.

👉 Try it in Butter

23. Flower Petal

Aleksandra (Ola) Patrykus, WeWent

In this icebreaker, participants have ten minutes to draw a flower with six-to-ten petals. Within each petal, they’ll draw something that made them who they are today.

Then, invite everyone to share their drawings one at a time. You can do this on paper or on a whiteboard. 

If you’re short on time, assign the flower design step as pre-work and focus on the sharing during the session.

👉 Get the Butter template

24. Four Quadrants

Jonathan Courtney, AJ&Smart

This one’s great for approaching potentially serious topics in a more creative and lighthearted way.

In this icebreaker, you’ll ask participants to draw the answers to four questions using four quadrants of this Miro board template. Give them one minute per question. Make sure the questions are relevant to the topic you’re about to cover in the workshop.

At the end, participants will present and discuss what they’ve drawn.

👉 Try it in Butter and Miro

25. Improv Story Time

Florian Hameister 

To get the creative juices flowing before a bigger activity, roll these virtual story dice, which will randomly generate five images.

Invite one participant at a time to tell a story based on the images on the five dice. If you have a large group, you can split people into breakouts to tell their stories.

“You don’t need to take the image literally. You can use the dice metaphorically or as representations of other concepts. For example, a slice of pizza could represent food in general, cutting a slice out of something, Italy, or a chef. The job of the dice is not necessarily to provide you with literal objects to work with, but to nudge your thinking in fresh directions,” said Florian.

👉 Try it in Butter

Energizing icebreaker activities

Need to boost the energy after a break or start your session off with a bang? Use one of these energizers!

26. Bust a Move

Anamaria Dorgo, Butter

Get your dancing shoes ready! 💃

Play some energizing dance music and put random participants in the Butter Spotlight, one at a time. The person in the spotlight needs to do a dance move and everyone else has to follow their lead by copying the move.

After a couple of seconds, switch who’s in the spotlight. They’ll have to come up with a new dance move for everyone to follow. Repeat this for a few minutes until everyone’s had a chance to come up with a dance move.

“This energizer gets everyone up and moving, which will get your group more comfortable being silly and vulnerable with each other,” said Anamaria.

👉 Try it in Butter

27. Fortunately, Unfortunately

Anamaria Dorgo, Butter

This one’s based on a classic improv exercise. In three-to-four person breakouts, have the group tell a story, where each person says one sentence at a time.

Here’s the catch: each sentence has to alternate starting with “fortunately” or “unfortunately.” 

Once you’re back in the main room, debrief, or ask people to share the best moments from their stories.

👉 Try it in Butter

28. GIF Battle

Anamaria Dorgo, Butter

Here’s a quick way to put a smile on everyone’s face.

In this energizer, you’ll share a bunch of prompt flashcards. For each prompt, everyone has to post a GIF in the Butter chat that answers the prompt. It’s a sure-fire recipe to get the lulz going.

We’ve made flashcards with a few prompts, such as “That Monday morning feeling” or “Accidentally hitting reply all on a company-wide email,” but you can also create your own prompts.

👉 Try it in Butter

29. Treasure Hunt

Anamaria Dorgo, Butter

This one also gets people up and moving! In this activity, you’ll present flashcards with “treasures” written on them. 

Participants will have to find a physical object in their space that matches the prompt (e.g. something yellow). They have a maximum of one minute to find each treasure.

When they’re all back, have them hold up their items and call out a few interesting ones.

👉 Try it in Butter

30. Pareidolia Icebreaker

Giulio Bonanome

“Pareidolia is an illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct,” said Giulio. “For example, we see images of animals in cloud formations, or faces in inanimate objects.”

In this treasure hunt, ask participants to stand up and look around for an object that looks like a face (or use inanimate objects to make a face). They can either take a photo of it or bring the object to the camera.

This creates an opportunity for connection and gets people up and moving!

👉 Try it in Butter

31. Rant Orchestra

Lily Higgins, The Intervention Bureau

In this activity, you’ll give each participant the chance to rant about something that’s annoying them today while music plays in the background. 

“Everyone has something to rant about—whether it's your loud upstairs neighbor, the state of global politics, or the fact that your printer never works when you need it to. These are the (usually) insignificant, off-topic things that you might share around the coffee machine, but don't seem to have a place for in our remote workdays,” says Lily.

Spotlight one participant at a time for a rant solo. When you call the next name, that participant will have to stop mid-word and the next participant will go off on their rant.

When everyone has had their rant solo, hold a grande finale by asking everyone to rant at the same time, until you (the conductor), motion for the orchestra to end.

“The result of a rant-storm? Absolute catharsis. The air has been cleared and everyone is more focused and present to begin the session. The Rant Orchestra never fails to transform negativity into a positive group bonding experience.”

👉 Try it in Butter

32. Stretch ‘n Share

Dan Levy, More Space For Light 

Time for a group stretch!

“We love this activity because it gets people moving so that they’re more active, engaged, and present. It also lightens the mood. We typically use this activity when people return from a break or as part of check-in or check-out.”

Invite everyone to stand up. Explain that we’re adding movement to our session to get the body oxygenated and to increase our energy. 

Starting with the facilitator, each person will lead a stretch, and everyone else will copy the stretch. While in their stretch, they share a word or sentence. It can be related to their mindset or a key insight shared in the session so far.

After each person has performed their stretch, they will nominate someone else. This will continue until everyone has had a go.

33. Empathy Mirror

Melissa Dinwiddie, Creative Sandbox Solutions

This exercise is great for getting people to break down their walls before a session with open and honest sharing.

To start, make sure everyone is in gallery view and can see everyone else’s video. Without thinking, make a sound and movement combination to express how you feel in the moment. Everyone else will have to copy that sound and movement.

The more goofy and outrageous you can let yourself be, the more relaxed and less self-conscious your participants are likely to be when it gets to be their turn.

Then, call on someone else to take the next turn by throwing an invisible ball to the next person until everyone’s had a chance to make a sound and movement.

“Coach participants not to think or try to be clever, but to do the first thing that pops into their heads. And assure them that anything they do as their sound and movement combination is perfect.”

You may have to keep prompting everyone to join in. The more enthusiastic you are in your mirroring, the more likely you’ll get buy-in from others.

Debrief by asking, “What was that like? What did you notice? What did you learn from this exercise? Did you censor yourself at all? If so, why do you think that was?”

34. I’m Packing My Suitcase

Jan Keck

This activity is based on a memory game for kids. Each team member has to share an item they want to pack into the group’s imaginary suitcase. With each new item, you have to repeat everything that’s already been added to the suitcase, including the person’s name.

The first participant starts by saying, "In our suitcase, I’m packing a banana.” The next participant would then say, “In our suitcase, Jan is packing a banana and I’m packing an umbrella.” And so on.

To make it more interesting, instead of using random objects, use one of these prompts (or create your own!):

  • Objects you would take on a deserted island
  • Objects you bought that made a difference in your life
  • Objects you regret buying
  • Objects you have on your desk

“This helps you learn everyone’s names and some interesting facts about each other,” says Jan.

Discussion-starting icebreakers

Need to stimulate discussion in advance of a bigger conversation? Start with one of these activities.

35. Spectrum Questions

Meg Bolger, Facilitator Cards

This icebreaker—great for small or large groups—is inspired by the Spectrum Questions card by Facilitator Cards.

You’ll ask a series of questions using Butter’s built-in flashcard decks, and participants will stamp themselves on a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree.

It’s a great way to get some hot debates going. 🔥

👉 Try it in Butter

36. One Word Icebreaker

Jonathan Courtney, AJ&Smart

This activity gives participants a chance to speak early on in the workshop—making it easier for them to get involved in future discussions.

Split participants into breakout groups and give them three minutes to come up with one word they feel is most representative of the topic of your workshop. Once they’re back in the main room, ask them to share the word they picked, plus a short explanation.

The purpose of this icebreaker isn’t to come up with actionable ideas, but rather, to get people thinking about the topic.

Document the words on a whiteboard or your notes so that you can refer back to them later.

🖼 Meme variation: Instead of asking groups to come up with a word, you can also ask them to come up with one meme or GIF that best represents the topic.

👉 Try it in Butter

37. Desert Island Team Retreat

Daniel Souza, Farfetch

This mood-setting Butter icebreaker uses music, flashcards, and polls to invite participants to answer a few desert-island questions, including:

  • Their favorite desert-island movies
  • Who they’d least like to be stuck with on a desert island
  • Who they’d most like to be stuck with
  • What one album they would bring with them

The icebreaker is backed by peaceful island sounds, so it’s a great way to set a relaxed, inviting tone at the start of any session.

👉 Try it in Butter

38. What have you learned lately?

Ben Crothers, Bright Pilots

This one's straightforward, introvert-friendly, and works just as well online as in-person.

In breakouts of up to five people, each group member takes two minutes to answer the question, “What’s one thing you have been learning about lately?” 

You can make it more specific by asking, “What’s one thing you’ve been learning about while working on this team?” or something related to the session topic.

When the time’s up, have a brief collective reflection as a whole group by sharing some of the more surprising answers or learnings you can take into the rest of the activity.

“This activity helps to set a learning tone and a more open mindset. It’s also fascinating to hear everyone's different perspectives,” says Ben.

👉 Try it in Butter 

39. Me x3

Melinda Munro, Munro Strategic Perspective 

“This is a great warm-up activity for sessions on diversity, equity, or human rights. It helps create awareness around immutable personal characteristics like disability, race, age, size, gender, and gender identity. It also helps develop empathy before diving into a conversation,” says Melinda.

Pair participants into three rounds of two-person breakouts. In the first two rounds, ask them to share what they like about the way they work and their personality.

In the third round, ask them to share what they like about their body.

“Usually, people freak out about this,” said Melinda. “A lot of people say ‘my smile’ or something like that. Often people say ‘nothing,’ to which the reply usually is ‘You are kidding, you're gorgeous’ or ‘If you don't like your body, then what can I say about mine?’”

“It's really provocative.”

Once everyone is back, invite the group to talk about how it felt and ask why they think it might be relevant to a conversation about diversity or human rights.

One possible angle for you to debrief is to explain that human rights are about "immutable personal characteristics" and often about bodies: disability, race, racialization, age, size, gender, or gender identity.

👉 Try it in Butter

Icebreaker questions

If you’re short on time or need to get the conversation going in virtual social sessions, sometimes there’s nothing wrong with good ol’ fashioned icebreaker questions. 

Here are some questions pre-loaded into Butter flashcard decks to get you started.

40. Pointless Questions Flashcards

Jonathan Courtney, AJ&Smart

Designed by AJ&Smart, the Pointless Questions icebreaker is a flashcard deck of 20 questions to ease breakout groups into natural conversation and prime them for creative thinking.

The deck features a variety of simple icebreaker questions, such as:

  1. Work at home or from the office?
  2. If you were famous, what would you be famous for?
  3. Show us a bit of your office space!

👉 Get the flashcard deck in Butter

41. 100 Smooth Icebreaker Questions Flashcards

Clyde D'Souza, Xero

This flashcard deck is a compilation of Clyde’s favorite icebreaker questions, meticulously sourced from around the internet, plus a few of his own. 🕵️

Example questions include:

  1. What is one important skill that you think everyone should have?
  2. There are now 25 hours in a day! How do you spend your extra hour?
  3. What was the most fun thing you did last weekend?

👉 Get the flashcard deck in Butter

42. Reflective Icebreaker Questions Flashcards

Kinga Király, the LEGO Group & Butter Community Core Team

“Reflective icebreaker questions force you to look inwards and share some more personal details about yourself,” says Kinga. “They serve a double purpose, forcing you to reflect on your own experiences while you share with the group.”

Example questions include:

  1. What’s your worst idea that actually turned out to be a great idea?
  2. What are the top 3 emojis that best describe you?
  3. When was the last time you had to improvise something?

👉 Get the flashcard deck in Butter

Other icebreaker resources

Here are a few other icebreaker resources from around the interwebs that were recommended by Butter Community members:

Break the ice in Butter

To browse our entire collection of icebreaker templates, check out the Butter Template Gallery.

If you want to boost engagement and get energy levels up in your next online session, try Butter for free!

To keep learning from all the amazing facilitators in this article, join the Butter Community.

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Features used in session

Agenda
Keep your sessions on track and on time. The time-boxed Agenda helps you plan every activity and tool—so you can present smoothly.
Agenda
Breakouts
Prepare breakout sessions in advance or arrange them on the fly—and even observe rooms without jumping in. It’s never been easier to facilitate breakouts!
Breakouts
Chat
With the Chat, participants can share their thoughts or questions without interrupting the flow of whoever's speaking or presenting.
Chat
Engagement
Say goodbye to Zoom fatigue. Keep your participants engaged with emoji reactions, sound effects, GIFs, and a hands-up queue.
Engagement
Flashcard Decks
Create your own flashcard decks in Butter to run icebreakers, spark debate, and build stronger connections.
Flashcard Decks
Google Drive
Google Drive is directly integrated into Butter, making it easy to share and collaborate live on Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
Google Drive
Integrations
Stop juggling multiple windows during a workshop. Launch Miro, MURAL, Google Docs, YouTube, and more—making it easy to collaborate directly inside Butter.
Integrations
Miro
Miro is integrated directly into Butter, so you can run effective brainstormings, sprint workshops, and retrospectives without the need for tab switching.
Miro
Polls
Use Butter’s built-in polls to gather brilliant ideas, answer burning questions, make a group decision—or find out who’s a dog or cat person.
Polls
Presenting
Stop presenting blindly. Keep your audience in full view while you’re presenting to keep them fully engaged.
Presenting
Queue
Minimize interruptions with the Queue. Just ask participants raise their hand with the Queue button to share an idea, comment, or question.
Queue
Reactions
Up the energy in your session and get instant feedback with emoji and sound-effect Reactions.
Reactions
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