April 23, 2021   |   Abby Foutch

17 Virtual Icebreakers to Kick Off Your Conference

The internet is the magic that makes virtual events possible, but it’s also your biggest challenge with keeping people’s attention. It’s got everything: email, cat videos, Facebook, whatever this is. How do you compete with that?

With an amazing ice breaker, of course.

Ice breakers bring people together and get them ready to focus on your main event. The problem with conference ice breakers for large groups—especially virtual ones—is that they’re usually expensive or cringey. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

These large group ice breakers are activities people will actually want to do. They’re quick, fun, and don’t rely on fancy tech, so setting them up is a breeze. (And one legit requires no pre-planning besides reading this article.)

Excited? Let’s get started.


GIFs are the perfect way to lighten the mood. They are funny, show personality, and don’t take much effort. Here’s how to turn it into a virtual ice breaker for large groups:

Make a list of a few scenarios where someone might have strong feelings. For example:

  • When you finally get that promotion

  • When you wake up on Saturday morning, but it’s only Wednesday

  • When someone tells you you’re going to do an ice breaker

Ask everyone to share a GIF with their reaction. Give shoutouts to some of your favorites to keep it interactive.


For this ice breaker split into 2-4 large teams and play game-show style. Call out a question (here are a few dozen) and let the first group try to answer. If they miss, it goes to the next group. This works best when there’s a visual scoreboard so everyone can keep track, even if it’s just an online sketchpad.

To keep folks engaged, give the trivia questions a theme, or throw in a lightning round at the end.

Prizes: You don’t have to sink your whole budget into a Cameo shoutout from Snoop Dogg. Buy the winners an e-gift card for coffee, offer a discount on next year’s event, or plug your sponsors by letting them handle the prizes (the ultimate win-win.)


Can Bingo be cool? Abso-friggin-lutely. It’s all in the execution. We played this one during our Swoogo offsite a couple years back, but you can turn it virtual pretty easily.

Get a list of facts that might apply to different people. Keep them short, like:

  • Lived in 3 countries

  • Can touch your nose with your tongue

  • Met a celebrity

Create 4-5 digital Bingo cards with one fact in each square. (Here’s a downloadable virtual Bingo card template you can modify.) Give everyone a card, and tell them to find people who match the facts on the card. Players can “network” via chat, video calls, etc. The first person to get five squares in a row and shout Bingo wins.


This quick ice breaker also works with hybrid events when you have online and in-person attendees.

Break into groups of 6-10, and tell each group to find at least five things they have in common. Throw in a competitive angle by awarding prizes to whoever finds the most commonalities.

The final showdown: With everyone on camera, have them stand up if their group hit at least five things in common. Then count up as more and more people sit down until only the victors remain. Have them share their list to prove they are worthy.


This one is a classic for good reason. Give everyone a few minutes to think of two things about themselves that are true and one thing that isn’t. Encourage them to choose truths that might surprise people. Here’s a good lineup:

  • I speak seven languages.

  • My first pet was a tarantula.

  • I can play the piano with my toes.

Then people guess which one is a lie. You can even flip it to an online poll and let people vote on which they think is a lie.


This one is easy and will highlight the power of marketing. Have everyone share their latest Netflix binge, and why they decided to watch it. For example, I watched the first 10-minutes of Bridgerton and wasn’t interested. However, I decided to watch it two months later because my friends were obsessed, it was all over my social media, and it was trending on Netflix (anyone else influenced by “Trending Now”?) Now, I would highly recommend it to those who like rom-coms.

Encourage participants to share a different show if their most recent has already been shared—maybe one of their favorite or unique or questionable binges.

You can use this particular ice breaker to help illustrate the power of marketing and to get people’s wheels turning about how they can get people to talk about their particular product or service.

Not to mention that it’ll help all those poor people who aren’t sure what to watch next.


Split into breakout groups of 10-12. Let everyone introduce themselves, and when they’re ready for another boring question (what do you do, where are you from, blah blah … ), ask everyone to show the group the most recent photo on their phone.

As they show the pic, they share the story behind it. It’s unexpected and can be a great conversation starter, too.



Get your virtual chat into Brady Bunch mode so you can see everyone’s faces. Have players hold up their hand with their fingers stretched out, and call on one person to start.

They say: “Never have I ever ____ ,” filling in the blank with something they’ve never done.

  • Never have I ever skipped school.

  • Never have I ever cried during “Old Yeller.”

  • Never have I ever deleted a social media post because it didn’t get enough likes (h/t, Oprah).

If someone’s done that thing, they lower a finger. The last person with all their fingers still raised wins. Or the first person with all fingers down wins. Either works.


Brainstorm a list of 15-20 hypothetical questions starting with the word “if.” Here’s a list to get you started, but it’s fun to write your own. The weirder, the better:

  • If Jurassic Park were real, would you go? (With Jeff Goldblum? Totally.)

  • If you could change one decision you made in the last decade, what would it be? (There was that time in Vegas … )

  • If you could shapeshift into any animal, which would you choose? (Animorphs, anyone?)

Divide into groups of 8-12. In each group, have one person choose a question from the list to ask their group. Take turns until everyone in the group has asked a question.


I’m sure you’ve heard of Would You Rather, but we’re guessing it was in a pretty extreme sense. “Would you rather have no one to show up for your wedding or your funeral?” Uhhh, pass. Would You Rather can be a great, lighthearted get-to-know-you game.

For example:

  • Would you rather eat pizza or tacos?

  • Would you rather own a cat or a dog?

  • Would you rather eat no candy at Halloween or no turkey at Thanksgiving?

But if extreme is your vibe, don’t let us hold you back.

Pick your Would You Rather poison: extreme or less extreme and split people into groups. The groups can range from 5-30 people depending on how much time you have reserved for an ice breaker. Make sure to have a facilitator in each group that will read the would you rather questions, and continue popcorn style where the person who just answered will call on the next person to answer.


For this ice breaker, you can split into breakout groups or stay in your large group.

Ask each individual to write a newspaper headline about their industry 10 years from today. If everyone attending your event is from the same company, you can make the headline about the company—sorta a future vision statement.

Give everyone a few minutes to come up with their headline, and then have them share what they wrote. As you guide the discussion, highlight similarities and differences between what people imagine the future will look like.


Guess Who is a fun ice breaker for internal events, and an easy way for employees to learn a little bit about each person.

Guess who works best for employees that have met have met at least once and in groups of 5-10 people. Remember to utilize breakout rooms to use this for your large meetings and conferences.

How it works: Before the event, use an open-ended survey or send an email asking a few light-hearted questions like …

  • Where’s the next place you want to travel?

  • What was your first job?

  • What’s a unique tradition your family has?

  • What was your first pet’s name?

The facilitator can share the responses while employees try to guess whose response it is. It’s important to keep in mind that this game works for those who have met a few times, you can imagine it’ll be a dud for people meeting for the first time.


Twice a month we have the entire company get on Google Meets for a social huddle. We throw one question out there and have everyone answer it. It’s a very simple ice breaker and an easy way to get to know people better (especially for a fully remote team like us.)

Depending on how much time you want to spend determines how big of groups you want, but we’ve done this activity with up to 35 people. It’s also very easy to break people into groups if you aren’t planning on spending 30-45 minutes doing an ice breaker.

Question ideas:

  • Tell us something that’s not interesting about you?

  • What’s the weirdest injury you’ve had?

  • What weird food combinations do you really enjoy?

  • If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

  • What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

  • Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever met?

  • Do you collect anything?

If someone’s done that thing, they lower a finger. The last person with all their fingers still raised wins. Or the first person with all fingers down wins. Either works.


Have your audience flex their inner entrepreneurs.

Break into groups of 10 or less, and share this link to digital Think Links cards. Tell everyone to come up with a new business idea using the three items that display once the page loads.

This can take up to 20 minutes (read: it ain’t easy), but you can do a lightning round in 10 minutes by having them come up with a business name rather than a fully fleshed out product or service.


Riddles or brain teasers are a great way to get the wheels turning. They require minimal prep and can work for groups small and large. If you’re using it for true ice breaking purposes, it’s always good to keep groups on the smaller side to help stimulate conversation in a virtual environment. Between 5-10 people is a good breakout group size.

Pick out at least two riddles to give each group. You can start easy if you’d like or give them a couple challenging riddles right off the bat. So give each group 2-3 different riddles to solve, and the first group done, wins (if you’re trying to make it a competition).

Oh, and while we’re here …

I have cities, but no houses.

I have mountains, but no trees.

I have water, but no fish.

What am I?

Answer: A map


It’s like a virtual scavenger hunt, but with a twist—you’re looking for people who are like you in a specific way.

For example:

  • Same favorite pizza topping

  • Same shoe size

  • From the same city

  • Same personality type

Create a checklist of 20-30 ways people can match with each other, and distribute it as an online editable doc at the start of your ice breaker. People connect via chat, and when they find someone who matches, they add that person’s name to their list. Whoever gets the most matches wins.


Make a long list of things people can hunt for, at least one item per team member. Throw in a mix of stuff that’s easy and hard:

  • Ballpoint pen

  • Pine cone

  • Baby Shark song doll

  • Your favorite red stapler

  • Sock puppet

As a team, they try to find as many items as they can, and whoever finds the most wins.

How to divide large groups for online ice breakers

There’s a reason so many ice breakers call for smaller groups. Small groups make it easier for people to connect and harder for someone to get left out.

So how do you divide your large group up into a bunch of smaller groups virtually?

  • At your virtual check-in: Give everyone a color (or symbol or emoji, whatever) when they check in. When you split into groups later, all blues or all 🤠’s are on the same team.

  • For two groups: You can do this on the fly. Have everyone cross their arms. Right arm over left are on Team Mr. Clean. Left over right are on Team Jeannie. (It’s a thing.)

  • By last name: You can list all attendees and sort alphabetically to figure out where the best breaks are. Or just use this rough estimate for four groups: A-F, J-L, M-R, and S-Z.

Your teams aren’t gonna be even, but with virtual events that doesn’t tend to matter. You’re not tossing a ball to each other or doing trust falls here. No stress.

Quick ice breakers for large groups that are fun? Heck yeah!

See? There are plenty of virtual ice breakers for large groups that people will actually enjoy. Hopefully you see the bigger theme here. Let everyone get a little loose, maybe share something about themselves, and show each other that they’re just humans (or animorphs), too.