Categories: Teamwork Skills

Darth Vader’s Guide to Virtual Icebreakers Team Meetings

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.

7 Things to Avoid when Facilitating Icebreakers for Introverts

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.

  1. Avoid large groups: Break into smaller groups, ideally pairs.
  2. Avoid surprise ice breaker meetings: Give ample notice so they can mentally prepare
  3. Avoid spotlight situations: Spotlight is a worst-case scenario for an introvert
  4. Avoid formal rules and setting: Keep it casual as much as possible.
  5. Avoid extrovert taking over doing all talking: This is a trap avoid it at all costs
  6. Avoid pointless discussions: The goal of ice breakers is to make it informative
  7. Avoid hierarchy dictating: You want to bridge the gap not make it bigger

Introvert Friendly Team Meetings Remotely

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.

Avoid large groups: Break into smaller groups, ideally pairs.

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!

Avoid surprise ice breaker meetings: Give ample notice so they can mentally prepare

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.

Avoid spotlight situations: Spotlight is a worst-case scenario for an introvert

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.

Avoid formal rules and setting: Keep it casual as much as possible.

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.

Credit BBC Zoom Meeting Article on Social Etiquette

Avoid pointless discussions: The goal of ice breakers is to make it informative

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.

Fail to Prepare – Prepare to Fail

Having a go-to st of ice breaker questions is the easiest way to ensure you are prepared for a situation. I personally invested in a deck of icebreaker cards by BestSelf and it was money well spent. I have them on hand for any facilitation situation I find myself in.

Packed with thought-provoking conversation starters, this tool makes boring, surface-level chatter a thing of the past.

Whether you’re talking to colleagues, attending a networking event, or catching up with friends, this tool helps make every conversation the main event.

Our Top 25 Good Ice Breakers Questions for Zoom

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.

  1. COVID Tracking App
  2. Isolation Innovation
  3. What you miss the most
  4. Your new daily routine
  5. Drinking coffee situation
  6. One thing nobody here knows about you?
  7. One thing you would buy if you were a millionaire and why?
  8. One thing you would never like to do again and why?
  9. Would you prefer to travel forward in time, or back?
  10. Would You Rather Have More Time Or More Money?
  11. Would You Rather Be Without Internet For A Week, Or Without Your Phone?
  12. Would You Rather Put A Stop To War Or End World Hunger?
  13. What was your favourite childhood movie?
  14. What’s The Weirdest Thing You’ve Ever Eaten?
  15. What’s your spirit animal?
  16. What’s your strangest talent?
  17. What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
  18. What was your favourite class in school?
  19. What is something that amazes you?
  20. What Is In The Trunk Of Your Car Right Now?
  21. What is your absolute dream job?
  22. What is the most amazing fact you know?
  23. If you could instantly be an expert in a subject, what would it be?
  24. If you could pick up a certain skill instantly, what would it be?
  25. If You Could Live In Any Sitcom, Which One Would It Be?

How Introverts and Extroverts Act Differently in Meetings

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.

  • Avoid hierarchy dictating: You want to bridge the gap not make it bigger
  • Avoid extrovert taking over doing all talking: This is a trap avoid it at all costs

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.

Brainstorming in Meetings

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.

Pin This! Things to Avoid when Facilitating Icebreakers for Introverts
Shane Drumm

Shane is an Agile Project Manager who specialises in digital web projects. He has worked with numerous distributed teams in Asia, Europe, US and Australia. In his spare time, enjoy travelling, cycling, digital start-up ventures and hustling to help other business owners with their digital presence. Find out more about Shane on shanedrumm.com and please reach out and connect with Shane on LinkedIn.

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