Try this fun team activity: the Cheesy Check-in

Ben Crothers Ben Crothers • 18 October 2022

Some icebreakers are cheesy, but this one is so bad it’s good! Try the Cheesy Check-in game to boost your team’s camaraderie, and have a laugh along the way.

Image for this blog post

If remote meetings and hybrid meetings are still a thing for you (and by all accounts they’re here to stay), then you probably want new ideas to keep them fresh, and maintain engagement.

The good ol’ Team Check-in is a great way to do this. Doing a 5-minute check-in at the start of your meeting ticks a number of worthwhile boxes:

  • It’s fast; the rest of your agenda won’t suffer
  • It helps everyone to mentally park the other 19 meetings they were at before yours, and be more fully present
  • It builds team camaraderie and trust

What’s more, team check-ins work just as well online as in-person, whether or not you use an online collaboration space like Miro or Mural.

Too much of a good thing

As you probably know, a popular icebreaker, activity, or any other kind of play in a meeting can get pretty tiresome if done too many times. Familiarity is one of the biggest buzzkills to engagement and productivity; people lean out when the ending is predictable. I love using the Nicolas Cage Gauge as a check-in game, for example, but I know that once I've used it twice, I better come up with something else, otherwise it can have the opposite effect of what it’s there to do.

Introducing: the Cheesy Check-in

That’s actually what sparked the idea to create this check-in game: the Cheesy Check-in. It works just like other image check-in games, but it uses really bad 90s stock photos. I mean really bad. So bad, everyone can have a chuckle at how truly bad they are.

The usual suspects are here. The lady at the laptop with her fingers to her temples. The businessman who's busting out of his shirt to turn into a superhero. The lady laughing with salad. So cringy. So good.

How do you do the Cheesy Check-in? It runs thus:

Step 1 - Set up a ‘Cheesy Check-in’ panel in the online collaboration canvas of your choice. Feel free to download and use the image below:

A range of really bad 90s stock images used as a way to help people check in with one another and have fun doing it
The Cheesy Check-in panel, with all credit helpfully displayed to various stock image libraries wherever possible

Step 2 - Start with a statement about how it’s good to check in with each other about our mood before we get underway in our meeting. Admit that these check-ins can get a bit cheesy sometimes, so we’re going to fully embrace the cheesiness, and do a Cheesy Check-in.

Step 3 - Ask everybody to choose their cheesy photo; put a sticky note (or a circle or something similar) on the photo that matches their mood.

Step 4 - Take a bit of time to chat about the various responses. There are no text labels on these; people can interpret them however they like. After all, the photos are really there just to provoke an honest, candid response"¦ which is a great place to start for building camaraderie and trust.

Change it up

Feel free to change up the question you ask, too. Some ideas:

  • Project kick-off - "Put a sticky dot on the photo that best speaks to you about how you want this project to work out"
  • Introducing a new team member - "Put a sticky note on the photo that represents a way that works in our team for getting stuff done"
  • Retrospective - "Put a sticky dot on the photo that represents something we could do better next time"

Let me know if you use this game, and any adaptations you make... I’m keen to hear!

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