Ice breakers not only encourage your guests to get to know one another, they set the tone for your event and get everyone in line with the attitude you want them to have. Having someone very enthusiastically pushing guests to do the macarena with one another sets the pace for a relaxed and fun environment and can make your guests feel calmer, as they are aware of how they should act.
Getting to grips with the difference between good and bad icebreakers is very important! Bad icebreakers can leave your guests feeling like they are back at scout camp. Good ice breakers can leave your guests with the environment to build fruitful friendships and business partnerships.
Start by finding an icebreaker that matches the interests and skills of your audience. There is no point asking an audience of creatives to work as teams to complete maths equations, better to ask them to come up with an innovative campaign with your own theme.
1) ICEBREAKER QUESTIONS:
Again, encourage relevant questions. If you are running a networking event, ask questions that your audience want the answers to. For example:
What is your job and what do you specialise in?
What kind of customers are you looking for?
But also give them a chance to find out more about one another. For example:
Pick something out of your bag and show it to the group. Why is it important to you?
If you could be any car, what would you be?
Asking questions that your audience want to know the answers to will keep them intrigued but also save them lots of time and make their evening of networking a lot more effective and efficient.
2) ICEBREAKERS FOR LARGE GROUPS:
The most common problem with icebreakers for large groups is getting everyone involved without spending the whole event doing it. It is better to create smaller groups to ensure everyone gets actively involved all at the same time.
Playing Cards: Give everyone a playing card upon arrival. Ensure all cards that carry the same suit and number have the same question written on them. For example both of the three of hearts cards will have the question ‘What do you think is missing from your career?’. Once everyone has joined the event, they must look for the other person that has the same card as them and then discuss the question with one another.
Candy Bar Discussion Tables: This activity works best if your event is in a large room with some tables around the edges. Place a different type of candy on each table placed around the room and ask everyone to restrain from eating them! Then, give each attendee a piece of candy that matches one of the pieces on a table and ask them to go to the table that corresponds to the candy handed to them. Once attendees arrive at the table they must interact as a group, introducing themselves, their career and what they hope to get out of the event.
3) FUNNY ICEBREAKERS:
Most people usually attend conferences or business events with a serious mindset, after-all they are technically attending to do business. It is important to encourage your audience to let their serious side down so they can better interact with others. Icebreakers that are funny and don’t focus solely on business conversations are the best way to go!
Telephone: Gather all your guests into two lines (use more if it is a large group). The first person whispers an interesting fact about themselves to the person behind them. The statement then gets passed all the way to the end of the line. What makes it interesting is that guests must pass on what they hear and are not allowed to ask the person in front to repeat themselves. The person at the end must then share the message with the group, the message is never the same one that was started at the front of the line.
Gestures: This activity requires your attendees to gather into pairs. Attendees must not speak at all and instead they must just use gestures to explain to their job to their partners. After about one minute, the one acting can reveal their job. It is a great activity to relax people as it moves away from the usual formal conversations about what each person does.
4) ICEBREAKERS FOR SMALL GROUPS:
Icebreakers for smaller groups allow you to give more spotlight time to each attendee so they can share more information with the rest of the group, allowing everyone to get to know each other much faster.
Toilet Roll: Pass a toilet roll around the room and ask guests to take as many as they would like (they must take at least one). The group must then go one by one, sharing as many facts about themselves as they have toilet roll sheets in their hand.
Pitching blindfolded: This is a great exercise to get your audience feeling very close to one another! Create two lines of guests and have them face each-other. Give one row a blindfold each and ask them to wear it. The person not wearing the blindfold must pitch their business/themselves to their ‘blind’ partner. Having one of your strongest senses blocked out forces you to focus on your other ones and in this case, you are forced to listen and focus to what the other is saying. If you have time you can then go around the room and ask each attendee to re-pitch what their partner said to them.
5) ICEBREAKERS FOR CONFERENCES:
Problem & Solution: As your guests arrive, ask them to write down one thing they are struggling with and one thing they are an expert in onto their name tag. This is an excellent way for people to pick individuals out of the crowd that may be able to help them or individuals they can help, and saves them spending valuable networking time speaking to each person.