WFS Conference Icebreakers
When delivering a live event for anywhere from 50 to 1500 delegates there is a lot of think about, particularly with presentations involved. With the venue, decor, the presentations themselves and food to cater to everyone’s interests, arguably the most important thing to think about is what is going to keep the audience engaged? How will delegates move past the insecurity of who they’re sat next to in order to take full advantage of the collaborative process major conferences are after?
For this Wow-Factor Series, we want to share a couple of our favourite icebreakers, or activities that serve to relieve tension between people to allow the audience to engage, relax and a fully absorb the information presented.
When the phrase ‘bingo’ gets thrown around, people generally think of dated rooms, florescent lighting and the Saturday night highlight for the elderly neighbour down the road. Did you know it can be a great tool to have multiple delegated make introductions? Human Bingo is a way to get people to know each other quickly and to start interacting.
Prepare a 5 x 5 matrices filled with a series of personal or conference-relation questions or statements to hand out to the delegates (along with pens or markers to mark).
Some example questions include:
- Have you been to more than 20 countries?
- Do you have a pet?
- Have you ever fallen asleep during a meeting?
- Have you been with the company for over 5 years?
Have delegates interview each other and tick off the boxes that apply to each person. The first person to complete the card wins!
Coffee Break Assignments
It’s hard to imagine a full day conference without some sort of coffee and tea break. But why is the general protocol to evacuate the room for 20 minutes, missing an opportunity for engagement? While some people might be happy to mingle at conference events, others might need a little aid to help ignite the conversation. Set some ‘coffee break assignments’ that start the conversation flowing. Basic questions like ‘Where are you from? How did you get to do what you’re doing?’ can often lead to other conversations.
Another great idea to implement if you are breaking the room up into teams is to colour-code badges and instruct delegated to find their team. This gives delegates a reason to approach each other and to initiate the conversation.
Leading on from the previous idea where delegated would be split into groups, having mini-quizzes on the presentation not only allows event managers to gauge who is listening but also allows delegated to break down barriers and to get competitive.
- Keep the questions multiple choice, short and fast (30 seconds). This way you won’t add too much time between presentations. There are plenty of apps and softwares available to track answers. At Clear, we generally build our own platform internally, but there are plenty of providers like Slido which can help with this as well.
- Get presenters to give a range of questions ranging from technical facts to funny presentations details to keep the mood lighthearted.
- If there are multiple presentations, give a tally of the scores halfway through to motivate teams to put in their all and get competitive!
- Give out prizes to the teams with the highest scores!
If you have a bit more time throughout the day, why not give your delegates some activities to get them competitive, chatting and moving? Think about what you want out of the interaction, feel free to pick and choose, but consider activities that are Physical, Talkative and Cerebral.
Assign delegates into equal teams and have each assignment last about an hour.
Physical: Consider Laser Clay Pigeon Shooting. Have an instructor go through the procedure and to run a couple practice rounds until everyone has the hang of the game. Then let everyone have a go! For the final round, take the top delegates to see who is No. 1.
Talkative: Have delegate decorate their own chocolates or cookies. Set criteria for neatness, shape, design and final presentation. It’s a great idea to get a specialist in before hand to give everyone a tutorial to follow.
Cerebral: For an activity that takes a little bit more of a brain power, have the delegates write, direct and act in a short film. Set a theme and see how creative each team can get. Make sure to provide time sheets so that the team can log exactly how they want their video to turn out.
Note: For the video challenge, it is best to have an editing team behind the scenes do the edits and to provide teams with proper camera equipment. At the end of the event, showcase all the videos and announce the winning team!
Another great way to get delegates mingling is to dissolve corporate hierarchies. If it’s for an internal training seminar, have senior members of staff break down barriers themselves by mingling with delegates, exchanging stories and getting on their level. If it’s for an external conference or networking event, brief organisers and presenters to mingle with guests. Whoever is in charge of the attendee list should make the introductions themselves or instruct the presenters of the appropriate introductions that will have the most impact. You can host mingling sessions during coffee or tea breaks before the conference, or even a drinks receptions the night before. Overall, dissolving the hierarchy of those attending the event will give those in charge more control in what connections are made.
With all the work that goes into planning an event, ultimately people will remember the people they meet and the engagement that they had. Using icebreaking activities is a great way to get your audience to connect with each other and with the objective of the event. The initial introduction and each mingling opportunity throughout the day presents an opportunity to fill blank space and to create special moment that will make your event extra memorable.
Thinking you might want to leave the team building exercises and icebreakers to the experts? Give Mara a message to discuss ideas or to see how we can help on 0161 448 2424 or message firstname.lastname@example.org.