Before we discuss icebreakers for introverts you need to remember introverts don’t like participating in large groups. Trying to force them to interact with large groups is going to just put internal pressure on the individual and have the opposite effect.
Working in software development the majority of the people I work with are introverts and expecting them t change based on my needs is simply not how it works. You need to take their natural tendencies into consideration and put yourself in their shoes. I personally would identify myself as 70% extrovert and 30% introvert so I have a few insights worth sharing.
If you do these 7 items you will be automatically setting yourself up for success. You are organizing the meeting around the individual introverts needs more than your own facilitating needs.
As the world is coming to terms that remote teams are an essential way of working going forward. Here is how you can adjust your icebreaker meetings for virtual events. Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect but when you make an effort it is appreciated.
Having attended sessions with 50+ on the Zoom call an ice breaker was never going to work. What they did was create breakout rooms with Zoom that distributed all attendees to random rooms limited to 4 people and asked them to create a spirit animal each. It was random but great. Then after 4minutes the room closed and everybody in the main room just put the spirit animal up to the camera. Instant community spirit created!
We schedule meetings for everything when working remote so don’t try to push a random team bonding session and expect it to work. We have a designated team quiz evening every Friday. For one-off events just send out the agenda before the event so introverts can mentally prepare.
Spotlight situations are relished by extroverts but not so much by introverts. It’s literally their idea of the worst nightmare, having everyone focusing on them as they must share about themselves. Nothing about that sounds appealing.
If in a team setting you don’t want to force people to contribute especially when they don’t want to. Maybe this meeting doesn’t require a video camera and that is okay. People are more comfortable without video. It is one less thing for them to worry about. A good middle ground could be asking them to come up with imaginative backgrounds which will deflect attention from them to the background. Another way could be encouraging dress-up. There is some social etiquette expected but just remember you don’t want to be an enforcer. You could also look at gamifiying the meeting with some collaboration games.
Asking for practical advice on something the introvert is really good at. This will get them to feel engaged and the meeting is actually interesting to them. This will help get over the dreaded wall introverts have a tendency of building up around them to avoid having to talk to people they don’t want to.
To get you thinking and have some ready-made examples we have created a list of 25 ice breakers you can use straight away but don’t be afraid to modify them to suit your own needs. As a facilitator open-ended questions are the perfect icebreaker and here are some of our favourites. At the top is COVID as its an easy topic at the moment where everybody has an opinion and are willing to talk about but it can be a small depressing. I would start the meeting with one of these and try to gradually move into the above to keep the conversation flowing.
The last two points you should already be well aware are two huge red flags to avoid in any meeting. For virtual meetings, it is good to just call these things out with the individual privately before the meeting. Most leaders would already be aware of the HIPPO effect but forgot about it and might not be actively aware of the presence they bring with them to a meeting.
Extroverts might not be so happy you asking them to be more aware of the other people and not do all the talking. An excellent technique to avoid this is timeboxing.
After you have broken the awkward silence and got people engaged, the next step is to get them actively working together to solve a problem. One of the most effective ways to solve problems virtually is using the virtual fishbone diagram.
Let us know below in the comments if use other techniques.
One of the most important skills and competencies a project manager can have is interpersonal… Read More
I originally wrote this article on virtual portfolio planing for the newly published book called… Read More