How much does a polar bear weigh? …enough to break the ice!
Massive corporate events are a melting pot. Your people come together from all over, bringing fresh perspectives and unique personalities along with them. Although they’re excited to get there, that doesn’t exactly mean they’re ready for your message.
Sometimes people need to be warmed up a little.
Enter icebreakers – a great way to get people involved early and sincerely. If you can shatter people’s timidness and get them fired up for your brand story, the rest of the conference becomes just a little bit easier.
16 Unique Event Icebreakers at Your Conference
1. Collecting Signatures
This is a great one for getting people moving around the room and meeting a lot of other attendees. Everyone gets a sheet of 10-20 prompts (ex: Find someone who does a crossword puzzle everyday) and participants must find a different person who fulfills each question to sign their sheet until all questions are answered.
First one to get all the signatures shouts out and gets recognized as the winner.
2. Rock, Paper, Scissors… with a twist
Pretty standard. Your attendees all play paper, rock, scissors with one another. But once they lose they don’t sit down just yet. Instead, they now must become the cheerleader for the person who bested them. They follow that player around, cheering them on until they lose.
When a player with a following loses, their entire following must cheer for the new winner. This process repeats until there is one final showdown, with half of the room cheering for one champion and half the room cheering for the other.
This one can get pretty hectic, so be warned.
3. True/False Trivia
A speaker on stage presents true/false questions about any trivia to the audience. In this game, the questions start out easy but gradually become more difficult.
People move to one side of the room for true and the other side for false. Whoever gets the question wrong is eliminated. Eventually down to less and less people until there is a winner or a tie.
Warning: this can drag on for a while, so you should have a plan of action in case two people continually pick the same winning side. You might consider switching to a few curveball trivia questions when it comes down to a few people.
4. Name Tag Switch
After attendees fill out their name tag and settle into their smaller group, have them interview someone they don’t already know. This is all pretty normal, until you instruct them to switch name tags with the participant they just interviewed.
Once that is done, restart the process and test the participants to see how much they remember about the last person they just interviewed.
5. Paper Airplanes
Everyone gets a piece of paper where they write their name and a description of themselves (ex. what they are wearing). Then the sheets are made into a paper airplane (or snowball if they cannot make one) and thrown randomly around in any direction. Everyone catches a random airplane from someone else and have to go and search for that person.
6. Speaker Surveys
This one is a great fit for your breakout sessions. Modern polling platforms are a great way to break the ice among both participants and keynote speakers because it gives the audience a noticeable voice.
7. Things in Common
Unite your people around a shared idea with this simple game.
Everyone starts out alone and tries to find something interesting they have in common with someone else. After they find something in common, they look for another person who has that in common with them and they keep adding people. Eventually, everyone is part of large groups who all have that one thing in common.
Give everyone in your group a penny from the past fifteen years. After they know their year, go around the circle and have each person share an interesting memory they have of that year. This could be either personal or topical. This is a great way to gain insights into what is significant to them.
9. Colored Candy Questions
Split up into groups of 10-20 people. Each group gets a bowl of M&M’s and picks out one M&M. After everyone has one, they have to answer a certain question based on the color of their M&M.
Yellow candy holders, for instance, might have to share with the group what their spirit animal is. Red, on the other hand, must disclose their favorite vacation destination and why. This gets everyone sharing without the repetitiveness of answering the same questions over and over.
10. Heads and Tails
Someone in the front has a coin that is being flipped for heads to tails. The participants all have to pick heads or tails by either placing their hands on their head or on their backside. If they get the answer correct, they remain in the game – but if they get it wrong, they sit down.
11. Simon Says
This is an old fashioned one, but that’s not always a bad thing. Everyone loves a good Simon Says game, plus you won’t need to spend a lot of time explaining the rules.
This also ends up with a winner, and you can get everyone else cheering and into the moment. You could also play Ships and Sailors which is similar, but different/new/themed and gets people together in groups.
12. Human Bingo
Transform attendees into game pieces with this one. Start by gathering a 5 x 5 “board” (25 people), then have an announcer call out characteristics or experiences of people.
If someone on the board fulfills the prompt, that person will put their hand up or sit down to signal they have been called (only one person from each group can fulfill each prompt). The first group to fill a row or column wins.
13. Business Card Contest
The object of this getting-to-know-you game is to interview as many people as possible. Once the interview is over, each participant trades their business card with one another and moves on. The winner is declared when time runs out and they have the most unique business cards.
For a reward, you might offer a free drink at the bar, or maybe a bigger swag bag. Don’t be afraid to get unique here, just make sure it ties into your event’s overall theme.
14. Yes Game
People pair into groups of 5. One person starts by giving the person to their right a “top 5” list to complete (i.e. what are your top five favorite movies?)
Every time someone answers, the rest of the group yells back “Yes!” This fosters an environment where any answer, no matter how ridiculous, is acceptable – thus allowing a proper “brainstorm” mentality.
15. Two Truths and a Dream
As the name suggests, one person lists three “facts” about themselves, except one of them is a dream.
The best way to play is to have a discussion about each “fact” to better get to know the person. The game paves the way to great discussions of other’s accomplishments, life experiences and aspirations. Perhaps a revelation within the group will create an important connection down the road.
16. Scavenger Hunt
This is a great icebreaker game to get people moving.
Attendees have a list of certain criteria like finding a particular person from a particular department. Frankly, it’s just a more interesting way to interview people. Even though not everyone will be the correct match for your scavenger hunt, it’s a fun approach to meeting a wide range of people from your company.
Have fun with it!
Icebreakers connect your people with one another. Once they feel that connection, they’ll be more comfortable – more willing to listen to and learn new ideas. The onus is still on you or your corporate production partner to produce an event that engages them on an emotional level – and that part is a lot easier when they’re as excited about the next steps as you are!