Networking events are a great way to connect people in your industry, but too often attendees struggle to get past small talk. If this is happening at your networking events, attendees might feel frustrated that they’re not achieving their goals.
Don’t let anyone leave your event without having a real conversation. Sometimes, all an event needs to get conversation flowing is something to break the ice. For inspiration, here are 15 tried-and-tested icebreaker games for adults to try at your next networking event.
Ideas and Examples of Icebreaker Games for Events:
Icebreaker Games for Events #1: Snap
Give each attendee a card (could be anything — a playing card, postcard — get creative!) and instruct them to find other attendees that have a matching card. To add a competitive element, create groups of matching cards and award a prize to the first group to find all of their matches.
Icebreaker Games for Events #2: Human Bingo Version 1
Prepare 5×5 bingo matrices filled with a series of personal or business-related statements and hand them out to the attendees. People must ask each other questions, ticking off answers when they have found someone who matches the statements to try and complete a row. Example statements:
- Has visited more than 7 countries
- Has a pet
- Can dance the salsa
- Has been with their company for 10+ years
- Is bilingual
- Plays an instrument
Icebreaker Games for Events #3: Human Bingo Version 2
To make the human bingo game even more personal and unique, you can make the questions specifically about your attendees. In your event registration process, ask attendees to write a fun and mysterious fact about themselves. If you’re using Eventbrite, this can be done adding a custom question to your registration. Set up a sheet of paper with as many squares as you need and complete the table with each of these facts. Attendees are required to strike up conversations to find out who belongs to each fact, crossing off as many as possible.
Icebreaker Games for Events #4: Nostalgic Games
Set up some group games and nostalgic activities from childhood such as Giant Jenga, Connect 4, Ring Toss, and Bocce. Instead of formal name tags, ask attendees to write their childhood nickname on their name tag. This is lighthearted way to break the ice as the games get people interacting and the name tags open up conversations to funny childhood stories and memories.
Icebreaker Games for Events #5: Pictionary
Break attendees into groups and ask them to draw something about themselves for the group to guess, for example, explain their job title in pictures, or their favourite travel destination.
Icebreaker Games for Events #6: Shared Storytelling
Storytelling is a wildly popular event activity, thanks to the success of organisations like The Moth. Use prompts such as “Tell us about a time you blew people away at work” and “How did your first job help you get where you are?” Ask attendees to prepare a quick story, which they can share with small groups or up on stage.
Icebreaker Games for Events #7: Speed-networking
Like speed-dating, pair participants up for just 2-3 minutes at a time. Ask them to get to know each other, exchange contact info, and find a takeaway they’ll remember about the other person.
Icebreaker Games for Events #8: Human Spectrogram
Despite the fancy name, this format essentially involves voting with your feet. The event presenter asks the group a small number of key questions (usually no more than 3 or 4 as participants might get tired!) and people move to an area of the room to indicate their answer. Highly visual, this technique can be used to quickly and enjoyably explore all kinds of useful information about a group. It makes an ideal icebreaker at the start of a session and can be repeated at the end to measure shifts in opinion.
Icebreaker Games for Events #9: Think Tank
For adults, icebreakers aren’t just about getting people over their initial shyness. They can also serve as productive, energetic kick-off sessions. Pair off participants to brainstorm what they would like to accomplish at the event. This doesn’t just bond participants, it also helps you better structure the rest of the day.
Icebreaker Games for Events #10: Scavenger Hunt
Have attendees find and photograph objects from a list. The theme might be related to your event, or simply whimsical: “Capture the funniest thing in sight” or “Things that start with the letter J.”
Icebreaker Games for Events #11: “Two Truths and a Lie”
A classic icebreaker game is to have participants tell their groups three thing about themselves. Two should be true, and one a lie. It’s up to the group to figure out which fact is a fib.
Icebreaker Games for Events #12: Structured Q&As
Another way to involve participants in upcoming Q&As and, at the same time, help them get to know each other? Pair them off and have each pair of attendees come up with two or three questions to ask panelists or speakers to throw into the mix.
Icebreaker Games for Events #13: Tallest Tower
Provide a variety of items to build with (for instance toothpicks, newspapers, uncooked pasta, or wooden blocks). Split up participants into an even number of groups, then tell them that they must build the tallest freestanding structure from the provided items within the time allotted. This activity encourages participants to work together as a team and use creative problem-solving.
Icebreaker Games for Events #14: Arts & Crafts Stations
Set up arts and crafts stations where attendees can mix, mingle, and make. Give participants a theme related to your event and ask them to interpret it any way they like. From paper crowns to floral arrangements or painting, it’s a great way to chat to someone new sitting opposite you.
Unique Networking Activities #15: Beer or Wine Tasting
Instead of just opening the bar and hoping guests with mingle over a drink, enlist the help of a mixologist to teach participants to make their own cocktail, tailor-made for your event. For large groups, this can be done with an initial demonstration, before splitting people into smaller teams to create their own.
Start networking now
Get your attendees talking by taking these ideas and starting your next networking event today.