Even the most extraverted of us feel a bit shy stepping into a lobby of strangers in a virtual meeting. Conferences leverage workshops to discuss, brainstorm and further reinforce session content and virtual workshops feel like a natural replacement during COVID-19. Icebreakers are a good way of getting through those potentially awkward first few moments, here are a couple of our favourites.
Where are you joining us from?
A simple but effective question goes a long way – virtual conferences have the potential to reach very broad international audiences, so allowing someone to talk about where they’re from helps see who else is nearby. Or even just explain why that person has an odd accent. This question is effective because it is short, to the point and doesn’t put any pressure on the respondent to plan an answer. It’s also great in larger groups, where time constraints may not allow everyone to contribute to every point.
Show us something
Whether it be the good luck charm sitting on their desk, a portrait of their loved ones or just their workspace – this icebreaker allows for a more personal expression of who they are and gives a brief insight into how they think. This is most effective in a workshop space where other attendees are part of a video call but could also work in a text chat capable of hosting picture messages. This gets harder to manage in larger groups, particularly if someone gets a bit too chatty!
Nothing keeps attendees on their toes more than knowing they’ll be asked to recap the session later. By encouraging participants to summarise the session they just watched into one word, it presents an interesting challenge to highlight their key takeaway. This provides a good starting point for follow up conversation and breaks the ice within the group as we begin to see who thinks alike. To make it less intimidating, you could instead tweak it and ask participants to sum up how the session made them feel using an emoji.
Virtual body language
This fun exercise only works in a video call setting, where participants mute their microphones and need to communicate their thoughts non-verbally. Remote working has taken away our ability to read non-verbal communication, so this exercise flips this back around in a fun way. You will no doubt get some people who are shy and less eager to swing their arms around to get their point across, so reading the room is important. But it is still a fun exercise to try to remind ourselves of the full spectrum of communication we have at our disposal.
Two truths and one lie
This old chestnut has been around for a while but is still effective in providing a fun setting for getting to know group members better. It also allows for a bit of creativity in creating the lie about yourself, which isn’t a huge ask for introverts to put forward. At the end of the day, it’s a bit of harmless fun that will bring your group of participants together.
Many chats allow for plugins and finding a poll feature will go a long way to gaining insights on your participants. Sometimes privacy settings on the specific poll plugin you use may not allow group members to see specifically who voted which way, but it still provides interesting results to see what their vote is in relation to the larger group. Poll topics could range from personal information, like which age category you fall into, relate to session content or something completely random just to get people thinking. Be careful of open polls that allow people to add their own answers – Boaty McBoatface taught everyone a lesson.
Basically, a good icebreaker gets you to talk and become accustomed to people you didn’t know. A good way to do that is to ask off-the-wall questions, ones that no-one could have prepared for and will help deflate any sense of nerves that a participant may have to speak in the new group setting. You could prepare these questions yourself – like asking participants where they’d go if they had a time machine, or what they’d take to a desert island – or a generate them randomly in the meeting through something like this check-in generator.
Facilitating workshops can be a daunting task, particularly if you’re responsible for the full conference as well. Trust the experts and let Digitlab partner with you to put on a professional virtual conference that is impactful and meaningful to its participants. Let’s talk about how we can help you.Tags: resources, Virtual Conference, workshops Last modified: June 5, 2020