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142 Networking & Icebreaker Ideas for Virtual or In-Person Events

The Ultimate List of Icebreakers, Games, & Group Exercises

Chit-chat can get awkward, and it’s often difficult to facilitate networking through idle chatter and small talk. That’s why there’s no shortage of icebreakers, conversation-starters, games, and group exercises on the internet.

To save you from sifting through an endless stream of search results, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of these get-to-know-you games.

Adjective Adventure

Have everyone pick an adjective that describes themselves and starts with the same letter as their name. Like “Awesome Allison” or “Pretty Percy.” You can also have people append it to their name in the Zoom call.

AI-Generated Connection Recommendations

It’s hard to talk to people online when you don’t know what you have in common, and that’s where AI-generated connection recommendations come in. Before the event, have registered attendees fill out a questionnaire about their interests, career, and other relevant information. Then plug their answers into software to connect attendees based on commonalities.

There are various ways you can share the results of these recommendations. For our event clients at We & Goliath, our enterprise event platform will automatically recommend users based on one or more shared topics, within a tab of the Attendees page. Other possibilities could be to show a list of common interests whenever one attendee hovers over another’s name in the chat, or to show when someone has a certain percentage match across multiple interests.

Alternatives

Get a small item—something easily tossable and common—then begin tossing it amongst the group. Whoever catches the item must shout their name, something interesting about themselves, and an alternate and/or unconventional use for the item. For example, a plastic cup could also be used to hold pens or act as a table marker.

Audience Polling

To help break the ice in an auditorium setting, you can utilize audience polling. All you need to do is ask some lighthearted questions and have the audience raise their hands or stand in response. You can stick to classic getting-to-know-you questions about preferences (like “Are you a cat person or dog person?” or “Do you prefer tea or coffee?”), or you can keep things on-brand or on-topic. Either way, try to keep things light and easy; you want to start a conversation, not a fistfight over political differences.

If you’d prefer, you can also use polling technology for a more high-tech experience. In conjunction with this technology, you might encourage your audience to discuss the responses amongst themselves.

Audio-Only Discussions

Zoom fatigue has become an increasing issue over the course of the pandemic. To help alleviate this issue, make some of your virtual panels, roundtables, workshops, or thematic breakout sessions audio-only. This also allows people to network and participate in discussions while multitasking.

Virtual Networking Lounge

Utilize social media or another online medium to encourage people to get to know each other online before the event even kicks off . Using private Facebook groups and Twitter chats, or certain chat platforms like Slack, you can utilize this option for free. If you want a little more convenience and/or privacy, you can utilize paid platforms to the same effect. Ask if your event host can build this right into your event platform!

Allowing people to connect virtually before the event will help bold and shy attendees alike form longer-lasting connections.

“Big Talk” Virtual Icebreaker

Start the meeting with a few minutes of organized “Big Talk” about global events and news. Before the meeting, send out a news story for the team to read, and give everyone a chance to share their thoughts without interruption or commentary. Set aside 5 minutes afterward for open group discussion.

Birds of a Feather Breakout Sessions

Before your event, send out questionnaires asking your attendees about their preferences. These can be related to the event, careers in general, or topics specific to the industry you’re working with. Then create breakout rooms based on the responses to the question.

For easy matchups, you can employ the use of AI software to find commonalities between attendees.

Birthday Lineup

Give attendees five minutes to arrange themselves by birthday from January 1st to December 31st. The catch? They cannot speak or write out dates.

Build Something Together

Simply organize your attendees into groups and tell them to build something with limited or unconventional materials. For example, you could tell them to build a bridge with marshmallows and dry spaghetti or build a structure entirely out of straws.

This will encourage collaborative discussion and help people figure out who they work well with.

Build Unique Immersive Environments

By designing your virtual space to look like an actual space, you’re not only providing an interesting and immersive experience, but you’re also giving your attendees something to talk about.

Though you don’t have to take a full leap into VR, allowing attendees to feel familiar aspects of event spaces will help attendees feel more at ease with your virtual space.

Builder, Looker, Runner

You and your team get to play with Legos in this fun Game of Bricks activity. You and your team have specific roles: one is the builder, one is the looker, and one is the runner. Try to recreate a model. Build something amazing with groups from 10-100+.

Building a Hive

Randomly split your audience into groups of 3-10 people. Have them talk amongst themselves until they find a personality trait, hobby, or specific experience they have in common. Once they find that common denominator, they become a team. For example, they might be the “we all enjoy rock climbing” group or the “we’ve all volunteered at animal shelters” team.

Once every team has been formed, they circulate the room looking for other people they have that trait in common with and invite them to join the group. After mingling for a while, there should be a few large groups and attendees can see what they have in common with many of the other participants.

Business Card Collection

Suggest attendees bring a specific number of business cards, but don’t tell them the reason. Once they’ve arrived, give them a set amount of time for fast networking. At the end of the time limit, whoever’s collected the most business cards wins a prize.

You can announce the contest beforehand, but it’s recommended you keep it secret until the end. If you want to announce the game beforehand, you need to institute additional rules. If you have more time and an even greater challenge, you might institute a rule that participants can’t collect the business cards until they’ve learned the person’s job, company they work for, or et cetera.

Charades

This fun event is great for large and small groups in person (10-100+) and small groups of 20 or fewer participants for a virtual event. The best thing about this game is that nearly everyone knows how to play it (those who don’t can pick it up quickly) and it’s free!

City Brew Tours

City Brew Tours allow your team to roam the city, sampling local brews, culture, and history. These are great for up to 500 participants. Many local breweries & distilleries have added non-alcoholic choices to their menus, too, so everyone can partake.

Coffee Talk

“Let’s grab a coffee,” is a classic phrase for anyone trying to get to know someone. Now, this traditional gathering has a virtual equivalent. Though there are paid versions of this event, you can also organize one with little to no cost to you.

The paid versions have people register in advance, then services send attendees a box of artisanal coffees and brewing accessories. For a low-cost version, you can simply encourage attendees to bring their own coffee.

Once you have your method of coffee distribution settled, you simply pick a time and platform for people to sip coffee and chat. You can either set the coffee time to follow a formal event (such as a panel, speech, or discussion), or you can simply open up coffee time for the space between events.

Collaborative Craft Project

Choose a collaborative craft project to work on (paper quilt, a mosaic of painted rocks, etc) and ask everyone to independently create one piece of it. When you can get together to assemble the larger project, you’ll love seeing how all the individual displays of creativity come together.

Collaborative Post-Its

Use an online whiteboard and post-it note platform that allows you to collaborate with your team. You can ask questions of your participants to get a discussion going, or even turn it into a game where you ask questions.

Competitive Networking

Set up competitions that encourage your team to network. Consider what type of attendees you’ll have and set up competitions that cater to them. You can do this in a number of ways, one of which is to give each participant a “bingo board” filled in with different prompts (“find someone who can play guitar”) and having them sign the bingo square. This is a fun way to help your team get to know each other better!

Corporate Wine Tasting

An educational wine tasting is a great way to encourage networking. Send your registered wine-tasters some carefully-packaged bottles of wine and suggested food pairings. With the help of a trained sommelier, you can educate wine-lovers about their favorite drink while also connecting them to other professionals with a shared interest.

Create a Bouquet

For a fun and floral networking option, check out the company Zoom & Bloom. The company sends hand-selected, seasonal flowers overnight with instructions for preparing them, along with floral arranging tools (including a vase). Then they can tune into a Zoom class with a live expert florist for a fun class on flower arranging. You can even customize the presentation to an event theme or organization.

Create a Clubhouse

In this context, we’re using “clubhouse” to refer to a designated area where people with common interests can chat freely. You could have clubhouses for working moms, social media marketers, people who’ve made a major career change, or anything else.

Critical Thinking Virtual Icebreaker

Start an online meeting by asking this question: “If you were alone in a dark cabin with only one match and a lamp, a fireplace, and a candle to choose from, which would you light first?” Give everyone 30 seconds to choose and have everyone share their answer in the chat. Spend one minute talking about the differences in the answers and what you learned from each other.

Daily Gratitude Commitments

Have everyone on your team commit to daily gratitude journaling for a month. If someone on your team finds themselves expressing gratitude for a team member, encourage them to share it with that person. It’ll help foster a culture of respect, gratitude, and wellness in the workplace.

Daily Writing Prompts

Give everyone a daily writing prompt for the entire month. (If you’ve got the budget, consider mailing out nice journals for them to keep track of their prompts.) Later, get together (in person or online) to discuss what you created.

Dance Party Virtual Icebreaker

This game will take as long as your song does! First, tell everyone about the dance party, then do a quick sound check to ensure everyone can hear the music. (If you can’t decide, try a random list like this one.) Start the jam and dance!

Dancing Contest

Dancing has an incredible way of bringing people together, but people often feel shy about hopping onto a dancefloor amongst strangers. To mitigate this problem, have an MC host a formal dancing competition and have competitors sign up in advance.

To encourage more participants, you might also have a “Bad Dancing Competition” or “Silly Dancing Competition,” where the less rhythmically inclined can ham it up in an attempt to make the audience laugh.

Be sure to include prizes for the top dancers.

“Do You REALLY Know Your Team?” Virtual Icebreaker

Before your meeting, ask your teammates to answer three “About Me” questions. At the meeting, share the answers and have your teammates try to pair the answers with the right person. Once everyone’s guessed, reveal who gave the answer. If the results are interesting/surprising, have the teammates explain – you’ll learn more about each other!

Drawing Snap

Give everyone a category. Using either online drawing apps, notepad apps, or classic pen-and-paper, they must draw something in that category in 30-60 seconds. When time’s up, they must find a partner with a similar drawing (a “snap”).

Egg Drop Challenge

This is a great event with a scientific spin. The egg drop challenge isn’t just for high school students: you and your team can do it too! Work with your group to create the safest landing possible for your raw egg. This fun exercise in engineering is awesome with groups from 10-100+ participants.

Escape Room Virtual Icebreaker

Using a virtual escape room client, you can choose from themed puzzles like underwater adventure, ancient temple, space escape, meme game, or undercover jewel heist theme. Log onto zoom and help your team through the adventure. Your Game Guide will be the eyes, ears, hands, and feet inside of the online team game. With your Game Guide and the digital dashboard, find clues, solve puzzles and complete the mission. Go over what went well and what didn’t go so well.

Fact Recall Mission Virtual Icebreaker

Each team member introduces themselves and gives a “fact” about themselves using a prompt. Each player must try and recall who said what during introductions. A recommended show is a great option because it helps you learn about the person while giving you a new set of shows to watch. Vacation memories and concert bucket lists are also fun. Even if your team knows each other too well, it’s fun to play and use as a warm-up.

Find Your Match

Place one half of a well-known duo—like “peanut butter” and “jelly” or “Tom” and “Jerry”—on every attendee’s nametag and instruct them to find the other half of their pair. You could make this even more challenging by adding things with multiple potential partners and tell them to find the best partner.

Fishbowls

Use a fishbowl session to lighten up dull panels. The guest speakers sit in the “fishbowl” and the audience sits around them. The speakers are directed to speak on a topic, and an audience member rotates in and out to add their take.

Fortune Cookie Fun

Give everyone a fortune cookie. Now they must share something about themselves that illustrates the fortune. If you don’t have access to fortune cookies, you can also use post-its.

Game Show Extravaganza

Using an online client, remote teams can go head-to-head. Tackle photo and trivia challenges covering everything from pop culture to politics and race against the clock in this virtual gameshow competition!

GIF Wars

Invite everyone to find and post their best GIF on a subject and then vote on who added the best GIF. Give each person 1-2 minutes to make their post and another 1-2 min to vote. Use your event platform’s chat or messaging area if it includes GIFs and upvoting. Otherwise, invite them to post in a reply to a Facebook or Twitter post which has GIF search built-in. If

☑ Team Building Version: have everyone send a shoutout to someone who’s helped them or gone above and beyond for the team

☑ Event Icebreaker Version: come up with a funny or emotional prompt around your event hashtag, theme. For example, a news story where someone really failed at your theme, or demonstrated the need for what you do. Or, simply ask them to find the best gif/meme that represents your cause. Beyond just being a fun activity, this has the benefit of arming your community with a whole collection of memes to upgrade their social posts for greater engagement.

Graffiti Wall

A graffiti wall is a simple and fun concept. All you need to do is set up an area where people can draw on the walls. This will allow people to get creative and express themselves, while also giving them an opportunity to leave contact information.

There are also numerous ways you can implement this idea. For a budget option, just tape up a large sheet of paper and allow people to draw on it. You can also get a large chalkboard, or use a digital option.

Guess My Name

Encourage guests to get to know each other without telling each other their names. They can give clues about their name as long as they don’t say the name itself. For example, they can describe songs or books with their names in them, describe celebrities with the same first name, or using words that sound like their name.

Hand Holding Circle

First, tell all your attendees to stand in a large circle. Then instruct them to join hands with two other people, but not the two standing on either side of them. Once everyone’s followed this instruction, you should have a chaotic, tangled mess. The goal is to get into one orderly circle. The catch? The participants can only release one hand at a time.

Happier Hour

This funny event helps you feel like you stepped into a comedy club – and your very own team are the comedians that step up to the mic. Prompts and icebreaker games help your coworkers become utterly hilarious in this fun virtual event.

Hashtag Donation

Encourage your participants to make donations then share their donation amount to a specific hashtag. You may even turn it into a challenge by encouraging them to give something up for the day and donate the amount they’d spend on it. For example, if they go to Starbucks every day and order a grande latte for $3.65, they might abstain and donate the $3.65.

Head Shaves and Other Dares

In classic Twitch Charity Stream fashion, you can set up donation milestones, committing to zany dares if your audience can raise a certain amount of money. Get creative, utilize in-jokes among your fanbase (if you have a large one), and have fun!

Helium Stick

This is a simple but surprisingly difficult team-building exercise. Have everyone form two rows facing each other. Have everyone hold out their index fingers so they’re lined up. Then place a long, thin piece of PVC pipe (or other long, thin pole) along with the index fingers. The group must then keep the pipe horizontal while lowering it to the ground. Keep in mind that they cannot remove their fingers or grab the stick—that’s part of the challenge!

Hula Hoop Island

Lay several jumbo hula hoops around the room (or draw/tape circles on the floor). Have four volunteers stand in each hoop, then tell them they’re not allowed to leave until they find something they all have in common.

Hula Hoop Race

Divide the audience into multiple groups and have them all stand in a circle, facing inwards. Have everyone introduce themselves, then invite them to join hands. Afterward, place a hula hoop around someone’s arm and instruct them to circulate the hula hoop without letting go of anyone’s hand. If they drop the hoop, they have to start over. The first team to get the hoop all the way around the circle wins.

Human Bingo

This is a fun, flexible idea for anyone with access to a printer. Simply make a series of bingo cards with possible personality traits or physical features. For example:

☑ Someone who can list every astrological sign
☑ A blue-eyed woman
☑ Someone younger than 30
☑ Someone from Europe
☑ Someone who plays piano

If you want, you can theme these questions after your event or brand. You can also scale the game up or down depending on the event’s size. Generally, you want the bingo cards to have more spaces for higher attendance, and fewer for lower.

Icebreaker Box

Create an icebreaker swag box to allow groups to enjoy tasty snacks, party favors, and a make-your-own cocktail, right before your virtual team-building event. It’s the perfect thing to get your team loosened up and excited about your virtual event!

Ice Cream Float Virtual Icebreaker

Use a private virtual event planner to arrange for kits to be sent to all your guests. On event day, a virtual guide will show everyone how to make ice cream in a bag, and guests will dance around to popular songs as they shake their ice cream ingredients until everything is frozen. Guests will get to make their own root beer, orange soda, or cherry float to sip on as you move to the next session. (If your workplace is big on work/family balance, this is a fantastic virtual team event that employees can get their families involved in!)

If You Had a Magic Wand

For a quick icebreaker, ask each person in a group or a few volunteers what they’d change about your event “if they had a magic wand.” This also works as a fun way of doing market research, so make sure you write down the responses!

Interactive Mixology Lesson

Whether virtual or in-person, interactive mixology lessons are a great happy hour activity. Hire a mixologist to guide attendees through a themed cocktail-making session. You’ll need to make sure the instructor encourages participants to actually participate. When done well, this can create a fun and casual vibe which encourages attendees to network.

International Treasures: A Museum Scavenger Hunt

A trip to a museum on a rainy day can be a beautiful treat, but racing against the clock through Amsterdam’s Van Gogh museum, together with your 4-7 teammates, trying to interpret clues to unlock 14 treasures of the art world will get everyone’s blood pumping, no matter where in the world they are!

Jackbox Games

As soon as someone purchases a Jackbox Game Pack, your team can choose any screen-sharing platform and start playing games. Test your wits with Quiplash, ask crazy hypothetical questions with Split the Room, create Wacky Word Clouds with Wordspud, or explain things badly with Blather Round.

Karaoke

As a fun bonding experience, set up a karaoke room for people to sing their hearts out. Certain software will even allow you to bring this experience to online circles.

Learning Circles from Atlassian

Learning Circles make it easy to plan virtual education activities about a topic relevant to your work. Use this to reinforce fundamentals that your team learned during training, or help your team understand one another better.

Let’s Make a Deal

Named for a particular segment of the popular game show, this simple game makes for a fun icebreaker. Simply have the MC ask the audience to produce a specific strange item (e.g. can opener, screwdriver, et cetera) or show a specific unusual photo (like a selfie with a quokka or a picture of a wine bottle). The first person to show the item or photo wins a prize.

Live Chat

Run a continuous text chat throughout the entire event, visible to all attendees. This allows people to chat throughout the event, across different rooms or activities that may be running concurrently. If like-minded attendees hit it off in the general chat, they may arrange meetings in networking rooms or decide to attend an activity together.

Live Homebrew Experience

Your employees can become brewers for the day from the comfort of their own homes with City Brew Tour’s Live Homebrew Experience. It requires no prior knowledge and comes with everything you need to brew a full case of beer. They can even work with you to create a custom label and team beer recipe.

Mad Libs

For a great spin on the classic game, make an event-themed Mad Libs. There’s a couple of different ways you can go about encouraging people to use these Mad Libs. You can either call them out for the whole group or distribute them to small groups/tables. You can set aside a specific time for Mad Libs, or simply leave them out for people to play with at will.

Marshmallow Catapult Challenge

Get marshmallows flying with this fun icebreaker that encourages teams to work together to build the best marshmallow catapult. The team with the farthest marshmallow trajectory wins. Show your team the power of a common goal and turn the conference room into a war zone! Teams from 50 people to over 500 can build a marshmallow catapult! This challenge takes at least 18 minutes to complete.

Mastermind Group

Creating a mastermind group is a great way to help people who struggle with networking. It’s a peer-to-peer mentoring group that helps members solve their problems with input and advice from other group members. This will help attendees share ideas, get feedback and build connections.

Masterpiece

Give each group a large piece of foam board, poster board, or similar surface. One at a time, each group member must draw some sort of line (straight, curvy, curly, et cetera). Have them keep going either until they lift the pen off the page or until an emcee tells them to stop. The goal is to make a recognizable drawing as a group.

Murder Mystery or Jewel Thief

Plan a fake crime and have your attendees solve it by finding clues. You should have some volunteers or pre-designated actors play each of the witnesses and suspects. If you use volunteers, be sure to compile all the information they know into a format they can easily and quickly read, and give them time to read and digest all that information.

Music Mayhem

Ask four random attendees to choose a song they like, then play a snippet of each song through the event’s speakers. Afterward, instruct the attendees to head towards a corner of the room that corresponds with which song they prefer. This not only allows people to meet others with similar music tastes, but you can use it to determine the soundtrack for the rest of the event.

This is also a great way to divide people into groups (assuming the groups are about equal).

Musical Chairs

This classic children’s game can help encourage conversation and give your event a spark of fun. To use this game as an icebreaker, simply add a rule where each time someone goes out, they have to share a fact about themselves.

Name Tag Switcheroo

To help break the ice for smaller groups and events, start by giving everyone the wrong name tag. Instruct them to find the person with their name tag. Before they can get it back, they must correctly answer three questions about themselves.

This not only creates a fun way for attendees to introduce themselves, but it also encourages them to learn more about each other and start conversations.

“Name that Emoji Song Title” Virtual Icebreaker

Start a group messaging chain through phone or your Employee Recognition Software of choice. Decide who goes first and set a timer for 3 minutes. The first person looks at their last played song and tries to use only emojis to give hints of the title, and everyone takes turns guessing the name until time runs out. After three minutes, reveal the song if no one guessed it, and share why it was your last played song.

Offline Book Club

Start a book club and have everyone do the reading independently and offline. Have them keep a log of their thoughts and impressions as they go. Have a final discussion by exchanging snail mail letters, hopping on a conference call, or meeting in person. This event is paid if you want to put up the dough for everyone to get the book, or close to free if each participant will be purchasing the book themselves.

Offline Employee Wellness/Fitness Challenge

Have everyone on the team complete a fitness challenge (it can be to complete a certain workout every day or achieve a specific fitness goal). As you complete challenges independently, you know you’re not alone. You can even incentivize this with a platform like Fond. You can even customize the rewards catalog with exclusive rewards to recognize their progress when they hit major milestones.

One-Word Icebreaker

Ask attendees to think of one word to describe a specific object or topic. This topic can be related to the conference or industry, and will give a variety of responses to spark conversations. You can encourage attendees to discuss the responses with their group or table. A few volunteers can then share with the wider group.

“One Word and I’m In” Virtual Icebreaker

Start your event with a Work-From-Home-Wellness Box and have everyone pick one word to fill in the sentence “I’m ___ and I’m in.” Examples: “I’m caffeinated and I’m in,” “I’m tired-but-ready and I’m in.” This is free if you choose to forgo the wellness box – but it won’t be as tasty!

Online Quiz Virtual Icebreaker

Each team member can answer up to 100 questions, skipping questions they don’t want to answer. Using the answers from your team, Quizbreaker generates “Who said what?” quizzes for each team member. They’re sent via email and can be scheduled according to your desired timing, volume, and frequency. Every round brings your team closer and facilitates a fun virtual team-building experience. You can even activate the Leaderboard feature to congratulate winners. Try it out for free!

Open Mic Virtual Icebreaker

Let everyone know they’ll have a minute at the beginning of the meeting to take the stage. Have them find or write an icebreaker joke, read a poem, sing a song, play the mandolin, show off their beloved pet – anything they want. Start your meeting with these awesome performances and allow ten seconds in between each performance for applause.

Open-Ended Instructions Challenge

Challenge your team to create something useful for the office using only items from their recycling bins and kitchen pantries. Have people share photos and descriptions of their completed items online or in person.