Break the Ice at Your Next Event  


April 27, 2023

If your team is like most associations, you probably associate tradeshow season with the same feelings: stress, exhaustion, and having to make last-minute arrangements. But when it comes down to it, trade shows are all about networking — and that's not just a buzzword.

Meeting new people is one of the best ways to grow your association, but, if the key to a successful conference is collaboration, how do you get everyone involved? Are ice breakers juvenile?

Not at all! People are social creatures. We crave interaction, we love to talk, and we love to listen. Therefore, ice breakers are a good idea for conferences — they get people talking and help them feel comfortable with each other.

Let’s break this down.

First, ice breakers are a great way to get participants talking to each other and getting comfortable with each other. They also help people network, which can be important if they’re looking to make connections that might lead to new business.

And let's not forget about how much value these kinds of exercises have for the organizers themselves! By doing ice breakers during your conference, you allow all your attendees — not just those who are naturally outgoing — to feel more confident and relaxed about speaking up in front of their peers and colleagues.

If you’re not sold on the idea yet, here are some additional benefits:

  • We said it earlier and we’ll say it again. Ice breakers help you get to know your attendees better. You can find out what they like and dislike, what they're interested in, or even just some of their hobbies.

  • They allow you to practice your public speaking skills in a low-pressure environment where everyone is on equal footing when it comes to speaking up first! This means that if someone does not want to speak up first, then no one will judge them for it. It's just a fun way for everyone involved!

  • Ice breakers give leaders an opportunity to lead by example — they show other people how important it is for everyone involved to take part actively by using their voice during these times rather than simply sitting back passively waiting for someone else to speak up first. This also helps to build confidence as they see that you're willing to step out of your comfort zone as well and get involved!

  • They are a great way to get your industry talking about their goals, interests, and passions — and this is incredibly important when it comes to building rapport with one another so that everyone can be on the same page when it comes time for them to work together effectively during the conference!

What ice breakers work the best? 

The answer is not so cut-and-dry: it depends on the type of industry you're in. That said, based on our ice breaking participation, we've determined the following three have great traction at events. 

  1. Finding Common Ground: Divide your group into pairs and have each pair determine what the two most interesting things they have in common are. These commonalities should be non-obvious, which means you can't say "we both have noses." The pair presents their commonalities to the group at the end. If you have a larger group, break up into smaller groups and find one commonality instead of two. 

    This activity allows your attendees to begin connecting based on commonalities, which creates a feeling of collaboration. 

  2. Trivia: Create a trivia game with questions surrounding the topic of the meeting or session and see what attendees already know. Dividing attendees into teams with others that they may not know will help them network and learn from others with some team spirit!

  3. Two truths and a lie: Every person at the meeting says two things that are true about themselves and one lie, then the rest of the attendees guess which statement is the lie. You’ll learn something new about everyone! If you have a larger meeting, consider doing this ice breaker in session breakouts for smaller groups. 

Ice breakers are great for getting people talking but they're also great for helping everyone feel more comfortable around each other — even if they don't know anyone yet! They can help forge connections between strangers who might otherwise never have met — and might not have ever interacted without the help of an ice breaker.

So, what are you waiting for? Start breaking the ice!  


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