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This blog comes at the request of a tweet from @AlisonScammell.

“I’m looking at #webinar ice breaker ideas. Does anyone have any suggestions? #webex”

What a great question!

WebEx is incredibly useful for online meetings, but bringing a group of people together across time zones in remote locations can present some challenges when it comes to warming up the room. We posted some tips last week for adding color to your meetings which creates a mood. And we’ve talked about using polls and the whiteboard.

But what else can you do to get things moving? Here are 15 ideas that we think are well suited for online meetings or webinars.

1. Use chat. Have folks post their name, role and location on the chat feature so everyone can see more about who’s joining the meeting. Tip: use the whiteboard to write out the instructions on what to do.

2. Use video. As people join the meeting, go “around the room” with the video feature to have people introduce themselves. Tip: have them talk about where they are to help folks remember them.

3. Post a Photo Board. Before the meeting pull pics or have folks send you photos that you can post to a single PowerPoint slide. Tip: save the slide as a .jpg and import the image into the meeting (more how-to here).

4. Act like grandpa. Ask everyone to answer a question that’s short and to the point like what is their geographic location or what the weather is like right now. Tip: Type the answers on the white board to associate people with locations.

5. Exploit the webcam. Get folks with webcams to show something that’s on their desk or in their office that might reveal something about them. Tip: Get personal. There’s a hamster that sits next to my home office computer and yep, she’s had her on-camera moment!

6. Free association. Have everyone add something to the whiteboard. Think of it as real-time graffiti. Tip: plan ahead so that folks can add actually contribute towards a whole. Start with a theme or topic so they have something to work from. This can actually work like an initial brainstorm.

7. Worst job ever. Have folks share a short story about their worst job ever -- should lead to laughs and insights! Tip: jot them down and let folks decide “who wins” with the best worst story.

8. People Match Game! This one will take a little prep on your part. Get a few facts about your attendees before the meeting and then send out a game card before the meeting. As folks introduce themselves, attendees have to guess (or deduce) who matches the info given on the card. Everyone learns a little bit about the participants and name retention increases. Tip: use salient information if you want folks to work together going forward -- like location and work specialty.

All these ideas can be adapted to meet your individual needs. Do you have a favorite ice breaker? Please leave us a comment; we’d love to add it to our list.

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