A group of about a dozen people in businesswear stand in a wide circle in an empty area of an office. The group's attention is on the man standing on the far left; he has a dark beard and wears a turbin and a windowpane plaid shirt. His fists are clenched in front of him in excitement and a couple of the other members of the group are applauding. The floor-to-ceiling windows behind the group show a sprawling cityscape.
Icebreakers can help your team loosen up and get the creative juices flowing before settling into a meeting. — Getty Images/FatCamera

Trust falls and other traditional office icebreakers have become cringeworthy. But it’s still important for your employees to feel comfortable sharing ideas and enjoy working together. Icebreakers at the start of meetings can also help everyone shift into a more creative mindset. So, if you’re looking for an effective, fun way to help everyone settle into your next meeting, try some of these alternative icebreaker ideas that won’t have your employees rolling their eyes.

[Read more: 5 Outdated Business Practices, and What You Should Do Instead]

Worst job

Ask meeting participants to go around and say what their worst job was. This quick game can surface some amusing anecdotes about babysitting challenges, kitchen catastrophes, and camp counselor nightmares. You may even find team members have worked for the same terrible national brands. It’s a good way to bond and lighten the mood in the room.

Bucket list

Invite members of your team to go around and share one item that’s on their bucket list — something they want to try, achieve, or experience in the future. This icebreaker invites employees to show another side of themselves and talk about hobbies and aspirations that may not normally come up during the workday.

Would You Rather?

This is an easy, quick game to play when you’re settling into a meeting— and it can be played asynchronously over a platform like Slack to get remote workers involved. Everyone answers a “would you rather” question, like:

  • Would you rather have a horrible short-term memory or a horrible long-term memory?
  • Would you rather fight one bear-sized duck or 10 duck-sized bears?
  • Would you rather go backpacking in South America or sightseeing in Europe?

Be as creative as possible. Often, the most unrealistic questions get the best answers.

Pecha Kucha

This game is perfect for team retreats and bonding events. Essentially, Pecha Kucha is like speed-dating for professionals. Every team member gets 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide to talk about their personal life. Only images are allowed — no text on any slides, whatsoever. “The slides change automatically and the speaker must synchronize their speech with the images,” explained one expert. “So the entire presentation always lasts for exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds.”

The fast format keeps everyone engaged, takes the pressure off the presenter to prepare, and gives everyone a chance to learn about their coworkers’ hobbies, families, and experiences.

It’s important to find creative ways to build culture and connections between remote team members — and virtual escape rooms are a great way to break the ice.

Three things in three minutes

This game is a good option for both team-building events and longer meetings, since it only takes about three minutes (plus time for sharing). Pair employees in teams of two, and give groups three minutes to find three things they have in common. Challenge everyone to go beyond the immediately obvious things, like physical traits: “We’re both wearing a blue shirt” doesn’t really accomplish the goal of the game. After three minutes, each pair should share the three things they learned.

First concert

Invite participants to go around and talk about the first concert they ever attended. It’s a fun way to reminisce as well as learn more about your colleagues’ music tastes — and how they may have changed since then.

Zoom background challenge

This activity is perfect for remote or hybrid teams. Before the meeting, set a theme and ask meeting participants to come up with a virtual background image that represents their take on the theme. Themes could be favorite movie scenes, memes, dream vacation spots, or each person’s desktop background.

You may need to send around instructions for how to change your Zoom background. But it’s a great way to get everyone to turn on their camera and spark some creativity.

[Read more: 6 Things Every Boss Should Do to Build an Amazing Company Culture]

Virtual escape room

It’s important to find creative ways to build culture and connections between remote team members — and virtual escape rooms are a great way to break the ice. Tools like The Escape Game replicate the experience of a physical escape room over Zoom, challenging participants to look for clues and solve riddles in a virtual setting. This type of activity works for a virtual team retreat or for internal team brainstorming events.

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