Icebreakers aren’t just intended to get people talking, they can set the tone for your whole event and will have an immediate impression on attendees. These 10 icebreaker ideas can help get your meeting, conference or workshop off to the best possible start.

Smiling faces, a room filled with positive energy, a supportive and inspired environment. All things that anyone organising an event – whether it’s a corporate meeting, a workshop or a training or team-building day – would like to achieve. 

Getting people to interact with a group of strangers and connect authentically doesn’t have to be a challenge with a few pre-planned networking activities and icebreaker questions that will get people talking.

Identify common ground 

If your attendees have never met, emailed or spoken before, start the session by asking them to find five things they have in common with five other participants in the group. This exercise prompts people to ask questions and keep moving, hopefully speaking to everyone in the room as they find out about each other.

Not everyone knows this, but…

No one likes to boast but if you encourage attendees to share a party trick or a claim to fame you’ll soon get everyone talking. Asking people to reveal something quirky, funny or surprising about themselves is a great way to add some personality to an event.

Kick-off a conversation with one word

Sometimes, less is more. Start a team-building session by asking participants to describe a topic or issue in just one word. If it’s an in-house event you could ask people to describe the company culture or what their job entails in one word. Make a note of all suggested words and use it as a jumping-off point for discussions.

Present your partner to the group

Ask people to pair up and spend a few minutes getting to know their partner, with the instructions that they will later present their findings to the rest of the group. This exercise will encourage people to be curious about their fellow participants.

Ask creative questions 

Getting people laughing can diffuse any tension or nerves and set a fun tone for the rest of the event. Fold up a series of questions and drop them into a bowl – for example, if you were a sandwich, what sandwich would you be and why? What animal would you like to be reincarnated as? If you could swap jobs with anyone in the world, whose shoes would you step into?

Hold a series of micro meetings

Enable a large group of participants to meet each other in a short amount of time with a speed-networking session. Pair participants up for just a few minutes each and encourage them to exchange contact information and talk about what’s brought them to the event. The fact that people will physically move around the room will also help get them warmed up.

Break the ice with a brainstorm

One icebreaker idea that will engage your audience and get your workshop off to a productive start is to ask participants to say what they hope to get out of the event. They’ll get used to speaking out in front of everyone, and you’ll get an idea of what interests, motivates and concerns the group.

Share a story

Ask attendees to prepare a quick story, which they can share with a small group or everyone at the event depending on the number of attendees present. Prompts could include: What’s your career highlight, what professional achievement are you most proud of, what’s a valuable lesson you learnt when you started out? The idea is to inspire people to think about their own experience and expertise, and what they can bring to the event. 

Focus on favourites 

There’s no right or wrong answer, just plenty of opportunity for debate and conversation when you ask people to name their favourites – from cuisine or colour to football club, keep the topic under discussion light so that participants are comfortable sharing.

Get interactive 

Set some challenges that require logic, problem-solving and, most importantly, teamwork. From jigsaw puzzles to mini treasure hunts, or a series of clues that will reveal something about the event to come, people will thrive on the opportunity to give their brains a workout while you’ll be able to mix people up into random teams and avoid cliques. 

Whether you want to bring an interactive element to your next conference or are looking for ways to add some fun to your corporate events, the Eventbrite blog is full of practical advice for organisers and planners. 

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