Apr 05, 2014 by David Becker

6 Icebreaker Activities for Your Next Event or Conference

When bringing together a group of people who are unfamiliar with one another, it’s important to know how to ‘break the ice.’

You want people comfortable enough to participate. We scoured the Internet and found a bunch of icebreakers perfect for your next conference!

The icebreaker activities are split into two types of activities: ones with no other purpose than to lighten the mood and introduce people to one another and activities that are meant to impart a message or learning. Choose which one is right for your event.

Straightforward Icebreaker Activities

Balloon Breeze: This game is great when you need volunteers, but people aren’t offering themselves up. You’ll need a few balloons, as many balloons as you need volunteers. Each balloon is sent into the audience and they are supposed to try and keep in the air for as long as possible. The trick is attendees are not allowed to use their hands! Attendees keep the balloons in the air by blowing on them. When a balloon falls to the ground the person closest to it must pick it up and they are selected to participate in whatever activity you have planned. The best part of this game is the more a person doesn’t want to be a volunteer the harder they have to try at the icebreaker. Everyone wins!

Outlandish Introductions: Each participant introduces the person to his/her right. Participants are encouraged to fill the introduction with hyperbole and exaggeration. The only thing that needs to be factual is the person’s name. “To my right it David. He once fought a giant and won. He moved on from a life of giant-slaying to begin a career in PR for giants, recognizing that not all giants are bad, some are just misunderstood….”

Fact or Fiction: For this classic icebreaker, each participant must come up with 3 ‘facts’ about themselves. 2 are true and one is a lie. The other person, or the rest of the group has to decide which ones are true and which is not. This gives a little insight into the person, while providing everyone else with a bit of a fun guessing game.

Icebreakers With A Lesson

Selective Perception: Instruct the audience to count the number of “F’s” in a sentence. Place this sentence on the board or screen: FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS. Allow only 15 seconds for people to count. On average, most people will only spot 3 or 4 of the F’s in the sentence, but there are actually six! The brain tends to skip the word “of.” The lesson of this game: Even your own eyes can deceive you.

Sales: This is a great game, particularly for salesman, marketers and PR professionals. Participants are asked to select an object that they have on them. In a small group, everyone is then asked to introduce him or herself and then sell the object to the group. In a large group, individuals are paired and try to sell the object to one another, or “volunteers” are brought to the front to sell the object to the audience. Some of the people will be enthusiastic and creative; others might be reluctant and shy. The lesson of this game: How a person approaches a topic often determines how the topic is perceived.

Take Care: Instruct your attendees to think on the following 5 questions:

  • Who are the five wealthiest people in the world?
  • Name five winners of the Academy Award.
  • Who are the five most powerful individuals in the world?
  • Name last five winners of the Super Bowl.
  • Name the five richest musicians.

Then, read out a second set of questions. Something like:

  • Name five teachers who have influenced you in a positive way.
  • Name five friends who have helped you in some way.
  • Name five people you care about.
  • Name five people who have brought you joy or make you feel cared for.
  • Name five heroes that have inspired you.

The lesson of this game: to remind people of the importance of care and compassion and to put life in perspective.

If you have any icebreakers you’d like to share, please write them in the COMMENTS section and be sure to check out our post by eventprof extraordinaire Liz King: 5 Technology Trends in Event Marketing! Happy Planning!