The start of a virtual event can be slow and quite frankly, a bit awkward at times. Networking in-person is typically easier for people compared to virtual methods.
Add to that that virtual events are often attended by people from various countries, meaning cultures play a role too. As soon as you start speaking, everyone at the event is listening to you. Whereas, with in-person events, you are generally speaking with 1 or 2 other people.
This is where virtual event icebreakers come into play! They are great for well, breaking the ice. There are many fun methods that your event moderators can use to release the tension. An extra benefit is that people will feel involved from the beginning.
By breaking the ice early at the event, you are overcoming one of the biggest challenges related to virtual events. B2B marketers say that interaction at virtual events is their biggest challenge. (Markletic, 2020)
Below, you will find a list of 10 virtual event icebreakers that you can start using straight away!
1. A Trip around the world
Talking about traveling is always a great icebreaker for virtual events. Most people enjoy travel or have traveled in the past.
A great question to break the ice would be:
If you could be anywhere in the world at this moment, where would you be?
This question will result in interesting stories from people and they might even share some personal tales.
Your event moderator could simply ask the question or you can decide to take it to the next level.
Interaction is one of the most key factors of B2B events, so what if you could make this icebreaker even more interactive? That would be a win-win right?
Well, there is a tool called Miro. This is a collaborative whiteboard tool.
Before the event, you should upload a picture of the world map to the tool, and then during the event, people can interact with the tool and pin a point on the map where they would like to be.
Now people aren’t just talking about the subject, but they are also active. It’s a fun element that will be appreciated by your audience.
2. The Work from home tour
Many people are working from home nowadays, especially due to the coronavirus. The workspace of a person tells many stories about them.
Therefore, a great virtual event icebreaker is to ask people to give them a short tour of their workspace.
This doesn’t require a lot of effort from your audience but everyone will be interested in seeing various workspaces of people.
It’s a great way to get everyone involved and start friendly conversations with each other. People are social beings, so a human touch is always welcome.
3. Virtual Event Backgrounds
Undoubtedly you have attended virtual meetings where people had all sorts of different virtual backgrounds. On video conferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, you have the possibility to set virtual backgrounds.
If you want to use virtual backgrounds as an icebreaker for your events, you have to do some preparation work. It’s a good idea to mention that you will open the sessions by some sort of virtual background challenge. This way, your audience can prepare and will be more engaged throughout the event.
There are many ways to incorporate virtual backgrounds as an icebreaker. Think of things such as:
- The funniest background will win something;
- Show a picture of your last holiday;
- Show a picture of your most memorable moment;
- The most creative background will win something.
You can even help your audience out a bit. Here is a free pack of virtual backgrounds on Shutterstock.
4. The Time Machine
Okay, I must be honest, I got this virtual event icebreaker from watching Outlander on Netflix. It’s one of my favorite series!
This method is effective because it gives unique insights into some fantasies of your audience. Immediately, you will get an idea of who the other person is and what interests them.
The time machine method is simple. You simply ask your audience a question:
If you had a time machine, to what year would you travel and why?
This will definitely give you a unique perspective of your audience and it acts as a great virtual event icebreaker.
5. Weird sports in your country
This icebreaker is fun, especially when you have an international audience. Every country has a bunch of weird sports. You might be aware of them, or maybe you have no idea at all.
That’s why I advise you to do a bit of research before using this icebreaker.
You need to understand where your audience is coming from, so definitely include a country field on your sign-up forms.
You can start the virtual event by asking your audience if they know weird sports in their country. If they don’t know, then you can help them out.
Here is a list of some weird sports in various countries, such as lawnmower racing in the United States.
6. The bucket list
We all have a bucket list right? That’s exactly why this works great as a virtual event icebreaker.
There are two takes to this approach that you can consider.
- Asking what is on the bucket list of your audience;
- Asking about the most exciting thing that they have crossed off of their bucket list.
This way, there will always be something to talk about. Knowing what is on someone’s bucket list gives you a unique perspective of your audience. When people have the same things on their bucket list, it even provides some bonding possibilities.
7. The home zoo
Some people have a lot of animals at home! That’s why I’m calling this virtual event icebreaker the home zoo.
Of course, the idea is simple. Ask your audience if they have any pets and if they would like to show them on camera. You’ll be surprised by the number of different animals you’ll encounter if you use this icebreaker a couple of times.
I’ve seen anything from alpacas to goats.
Most people are passionate about animals, so they will have no issue participating and breaking the ice!
8. Advice to Your 13-year-old Self
This is a virtual event icebreaker with a lot of depth. We all have those moments where we think: “I wish I knew that when I was younger!”.
The rationale behind this is that if we know things sooner, we will be able to reach success easier.
Asking this question to your audience might give you insights into where they want to go when it comes to career development.
B2B sales cycles are complex and some purchases can make or break someone’s career. Your sales team needs to identify the personal gains from B2B sales cycles.
- Maybe the buyer will get a promotion if they implement your software and transform their business.
- Maybe your buyer has something to prove.
With every B2B purchase, the buyer has something to gain personally. You need to identify this, so you can help your prospects and customers succeed personally. Asking this question as a virtual event icebreaker might give you some very valuable insights.
9. Champagne tasting
Activities act as wonderful virtual event icebreakers. It’s a form of entertainment and it helps to pull your audience through an event journey.
By taking your audience through a journey, you are combating virtual event fatigue. Virtual event fatigue is something that many people are dealing with momentarily. If you are looking for more ways to beat virtual event fatigue, then take a look at this article that I wrote. Here are 8 Eye-opening Ways to Combat Virtual Event Fatigue.
A great virtual event icebreaker is champagne tasting. Most people like champagne and there are great stories to be told about where the grapes come from and how it’s produced.
Hire someone professional and ship a couple of bottles of champagne to your audience prior to the virtual event. With champagne, you can get your hands on smaller bottles so that you don’t have to ship regular size bottles.
Alternatively, you can organize wine or whiskey tasting sessions for your virtual events. The benefit of opening your virtual events with some alcohol is that people will be more likely to partake in discussions later in the events :).
10. Gift bag reveal
We all attended trade shows and a fun part of that is collecting giveaways.
The virtual event variation of this is to send your audience some gift bags prior to the event. You can use this method to break the ice by hosting a gift bag reveal session.
In each gift bag, you can put some unique items. Perhaps items that are needed throughout the event.
Virtual event icebreakers should be part of your event plan. Here are 8 more tips on how you can perfect your virtual event marketing plan.