Online Activities to Get To Know One Another | Online Facilitation Tools

Online Icebreakers [Emma van Sant via unsplash]
Image: Emma van Sant via unsplash.com

Activities to get to know one another can help to break the ice, especially online. They take away the akwardness of a virtual meeting allowing participants to connect with one another and build relationships.

“Online Activities to Get To Know One Another” is part of a series of blog posts about online facilitation tools. This one opens a collection of online activities. The two following blog posts focus on online energizers and on group- and team-building (coming soon!).

Seven online activities to break the ice

Here is a list of activities to get to know one another:

  • Show and tell
  • Two truths, one lie
  • Trading Cards
  • Everyone, who…
  • Workplace Background Images
  • Speed-Dating
  • Random Wheel Questions

Show and tell

Small activity that helps participants get to know one another better.

Step-by-step

  1. Ask everyone to get an object from their desk or flat, that is somehow important for them (or reminds them of their last trip they made, or is connected to a memory they love, etc.)
  2. Each participant has one minute to show and talk about this object.
  3. At the end, leave some time for a conversation from the rest of the group (but make sure you set a time limit!)

Variations: Ask participants to take a photo of their current desk/workspace before the meeting and upload it to an online board (like padlet or mural) you prepared beforehand. Don’t add people’s names yet! Take turns guessing which desk/workspace belongs to who and why.

Source: Online Warm Ups & Energizers by Laila von Alvensleben (2018) via mural.com and 17 Virtual Team Building Activities Your Remote Team Will Love; via timedoctor.com


Two Truths, One Lie

Participants are sharing false and true information about one another and guessing which one is true/false. 

Step-by-step

  1. Ask everyone to think about three short statements/stories about themselves: two of them must be true, and one should be false.
  2. Start breakout rooms (pairs), and let them guess which statements/stories are true and which one is false.
  3. After they shared their stories, they can move to another room and share their statements/stories with someone else.
  4. After 10-15 minutes, close the rooms.

Variations: With small groups, you can also post the three statements/stories on an online board (like padlet or aww) and let the participants guess together.

Source: author unkown 


Trading Cards

Sharing a visual and some information with one another.

Step-by-step

  1. Every participants creates a card representing themselves using trading cards.
  2. They upload their cards to an online board (like padlet or miro).
  3. In breakout rooms participants can introduce themselves with their cards or guessing first, to whom belongs which card.

Variations: Trading cards can be about various topics, such as travel experience, working experience, strenghts, interests and passions, favorite food, and so on.

Source: 10 online icebreakers by Joitske Hulsebosch


“Everyone, who…”

A quick and fun game to get to know one another.

Step-by-step

For this activity it is best that everyone activates the “gallery view”

  1. Ask the participants to cover the camera (with a piece of paper, their phone, their hand, …)
  2. As moderator ask the first question.
  3. If participants can answer this question with “yes”, they show themselves for a moment and everyone gets a view who has something in common with others,
  4. Afterwards everyone covers again the camera and you point out a participant to ask the next question.
  5. and so on…

Recommendations: You can prepare a list of questions, related to interests, hobbies, the seminar topic, the project, etc.

Source: the online version is here: Online Warm-Ups by Caspar Siebel


Workplace Background Images

A short activity to inspire short conversations about their work 

Step-by-step

We use this activity we introduce a session about volunteering projects of participants:

  1. Ask participants to bring a picture form their project, for example their work, their office, a snapshot of a meeting or a situation when they are working with their children, and so on.
  2. Participants upload this picture before the session and use it as their background image in zoom.
  3. When the meeting room opens, we all enter the world of volunteering projects.
  4. One-by-one share a story about his/her picture

Variations: Depending on the topic or the context of your online event you might focus on other topics: holiday, free-time, flat, neighborhood, workplaces, coffee places, favorite food, and so on 

Recommendations: Take a moment to show and explain how to exchange the background image on zoom (maybe with screenshots).

Source: adapted from Urlaubsphoto Hintergrund Battle (Holiday Photo Background Battle) by Caspar Siebel


Speed-Dating

Conversations in pairs, short, to the point and fun.

Step-by-step

The participants will have short conversations in pairs. Each of them has one minute to answer a question that is given by the moderator. Then one person moves on to another, and again both will have one minute to answer another question, and so on. (In short: 6 questions equals 6 rounds of 2 people x 2 minutes)

  1. Divide the group into pairs and send them into breakout rooms. 
  2. Send through broadcast message the first question.
  3. Participants have 2 minutes to talk about it.
  4. Move from each room one person to the next room.
  5. Send through broadcast message the second question.
  6. and so on

Variations: Instead of moving single persons from one room to another you can also close all rooms and re-open rooms assigning new pairs to each room. In larger groups (25+) you can either play it in groups of 3-4 participants, or you let people freely move in-between.

Sample questions: What do you see when you look out the window? If you could go anywhere in the world, what would you choose to do? (And why?) What should other members of your team know about you if you work together? Which book would you take on a lonely island? If you could have a superpower, what would it be? and many more…

Source: unknown


Random wheel Questions

Short conversations in small groups

Step-by-step

  1. Prepare a set of questions with the random wheel
  2. Share the link in the chat with participants
  3. Divide the participants into small groups 3-5 participants
  4. One person in the group shares the screen and one by one answer the randomly chosen questions

Source: European Solidarity Corps Trainer Pool, Poland


More Online Facilitation Tools

“Online Activities to Get To Know One Another” is part of a series of blog posts on online facilitation tools. My other tools recommendations for online workshops are here:


Resources

Alvensleben, Laila von (2018): Online Warm Ups & Energizers by via mural.com

17 Virtual Team Building Activities Your Remote Team Will Love; via timedoctor.com

Hulsebosch, Joitske (w.Y.): 10 online icebreakers

Siebel, Caspar: Online Warm-Ups; via: workshop-spiele.de [DE]

Michael Kimmig

trainer | coach | life-long learner

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