Meeting people online brings a whole new range of challenges. One that is particular common is how to get to know each other; and how to warm up the group. After a 60 second introduction, people still don’t feel really comfortable, and it can take a while for people to open up and share. A great way to facilitate this is to use an online icebreaker. In this article I provide some Icebreakers to use during Sustainability meetups. These online games were used during the Climate Reality Project Global Training.
#1 Would you rather..
This game is quite popular online, and it is likely you have used it before. However, instead of asking the often boring questions, you can also adapt it to your audience. As this training was focused on Climate Change, I have adopted it to reflect options about Sustainability. Not only was this a great icebreaker, it is a great way to learn more about the group and see what they are most interested in.
The game is really easy. The host will ask a question, and the other people indicate their choice by raising one or two fingers. For example, would you rather watch Netflix (1 finger), OR, read a book (2 fingers). The great thing is that you can optimize the questions to your audience. Furthermore, as people are responding using their hands, you make them part of the process. You have just transformed them from a passive audience to an engaged group. Make sure to use physical movements over digital input, as this creates much more interaction. Keep an eye out while everybody is responding, to learn more about the group.
This game gives you an insights into the group dynamic; and how a certain topic is received. If everybody gives the same answer, this might create a very one-sided discussion. However, if people find it difficult to answer and you have lot of different answers, this might be a great discussion point to dive into.
Examples of Sustainable Questions
Every group is different and Sustainability is such a wide subject. The questions below serve just as examples, but I am sure you can come up with some great options yourself. Try to tailor the questions to your audience as best as you can. Matching their knowledge and background together with the goal of the training.
Would you rather…
- Use plastic bags OR paper bags
- Give up your car OR give up meat
- Join a Climate March OR give a presentation
- Explore Space OR Explore the oceans
- Take the train OR share your car with others
- Plant a forest OR regrow a coral reef
- use Nuclear Power OR use a bridging fuel?
- Take one long-distance flight OR have cold showers for a year
- Reduce plastic waste OR …..
You can create as many questions as you want. What would you like people to talk about? What do people know already? What would you like them to learn? Possible topics are energy production, travel, carbon capture, forestry, agriculture, food, technology, individual behavior, politics, plastic, etc. I’d recommend starting with a simply question to warm up the group, and increase the difficulty as you get further along. You can adapt the difficulty according to the group response.
#2 Are you more worried about …?
The second online icebreaker follows the same structure as the first game. You will ask a question, but this time you give them choices of subjects they are most worried about. As Sustainability is such a connected subject most of the answers will be related to each other, but you can learn a lot about the group based on their answers. As we did in the first game, tailor your questions to your audience
Are you more worried about…
- Dangerous heatwaves OR rising sea levels?
- Food scarcity OR floodings?
- Thawing permafrost OR Increase in Fires?
- The changing jetstream OR changing sea-currents?
- Plastic pollution OR deforestation?
- Infectious disease OR air pollution?
The second game is a bit more serious compared to the first one, as we now focus more on the underlying problems. However, by clarifying the underlying fears you can actually address them, and also talk about the possible solutions. If you prefer, you can also turn the question around and ask ‘ Are you more excited about 1 OR 2‘.
There you go, two simple games that serve as great online Icebreakers during Zoom calls. You can take 5 minutes or a full hour, depending on what’s on the schedule. No matter what the meetup is about, I’d recommend a short icebreaker to get the group going and warm up the crowd. You never know what people did where doing right before your meeting, and sometimes people just rushed from the dinner table. Jumping straight into the subject matter can feel quite overwhelming, and a subject-related icebreaker can transform them in the right mindset.
I am curious about your experience. Did you use one of the icebreakers, or do you perhaps have one of your own? Share your experience below!