Icebreakers for remote meetings and virtual workshops

Jackie Colburn
3 min readApr 8, 2024


As a facilitator, I’m hyper-aware of how remote and hybrid work has dramatically changed the way teams meet and collaborate. When we’re not in the same physical space together, it can be difficult to connect, feel heard, communicate ideas, and align with our colleagues. That’s why it’s more important than ever to kick off meetings, workshops, and strategic sessions on a positive note.

Now, I know people love to hate on icebreakers, but they really are a powerful tool to get people excited about the work that lies ahead and to create a sense of camaraderie amongst colleagues (or strangers). And what better time than spring to talk about the best way to thaw a room? (ba dum tsss.)

Icebreakers Deserve More Credit

About two years ago, I wrote a post about icebreakers and to this day — and 35K views later — I continue to receive comments, “likes,” and questions on the topic. This tells me that people are not only using icebreakers, but are also looking for better methods to connect with each other and start meetings in a way that feels authentic rather than unproductive.

In that spirit, the three icebreakers I’m sharing today are perfect for cultivating a sense of gratitude. Honestly, these prompts are appropriate for almost any team, but I find them to be extra helpful when working with remote or distributed groups who might require a little nudge to access a place of connectedness and optimism (which is a primer for exploring possibilities).

3 Icebreakers to Kick Off Remote Meetings and Workshops

1. Prompt: “What makes you feel a sense of awe or wonder?”

  • Why it works: It starts the day on a positive note and puts people into an expansive, open frame of mind. People get bogged down in the day-to-day and are often attached to being right. Asking folks to step back and look at the bigger picture puts into perspective the challenge we’ve set out to address during the workshop. Suddenly, the work seems more approachable and accessible. The problem didn’t become insignificant or unimportant, we just held up a larger item against a smaller item to give it scale. This mindset lends a bit more ease to idea generation, so definitely try this one if you want your group to spend time ideating during your meeting.

2. Prompt: “In one word, how do you feel right now? In one word, how do you want to feel at the end of our time together?”

  • Why it works: It asks team members to take ownership over creating their future. While it acknowledges how they’re feeling coming into the day, it shifts the focus to what lies ahead. I like to use this to kick off strategic planning sessions and workshops where team-building is central because it encourages the team to start imagining future states. Getting them in the right mindset to aspire toward a different reality helps them take ownership over the creation of a future they’re invested in.

3. Prompt: “What is one thing — big or small — that you’re grateful for coming into the room today?”

  • Tip: I like to include an example of something big and a small to help people with this — like breakfast (small), and the land we’re residing on (big).
  • Why it works: If you’re asking folks to get creative, it helps to have them approach the endeavor from a place of gratitude, abundance, and optimism. Why? When’s the last time you felt crabby and creative, or bogged down and exploratory? Starting the activity with a gratitude practice cultivates positive mindsets — from there new ideas can grow and prime the team for innovation.

In my own work, I’ve seen how effective these prompts can be at cultivating a more engaged, present, and collaborative team. You can apply them to any remote, in-person, or hybrid session to kick things off on the right note and guide your team toward a better meeting.

Here’s another post I wrote about icebreakers if you’re hungry for more. And let me know if you have a favorite icebreaker for kicking off meetings and workshops by leaving me a comment. I love to see what’s working for others!



Jackie Colburn

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