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 event – whether it’s in-person, virtual, or hybrid – your attendees might feel they’re not achieving their goals.
Sometimes, all it takes to get the conversation flowing is something to break the ice. You can engage both in-person and online attendees so that no one leaves your meeting, webinar, or conference without joining the conversation.
For inspiration, we’ve put together 15 fun icebreaker games to try at your next networking event.
Ideas and examples of icebreaker activities for events
Icebreaker activities for events #1: Snap
Give each attendee a card (this could be anything, such as a playing card or 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 activities for events #2: Human bingo version one
Prepare 5×5 bingo matrices filled with a series of personal or business-related statements and hand them out to attendees. People ask each other questions, ticking off answers when they have found someone who matches the statements, with the aim of completing a row. Here are some example statements:
- Has visited more than seven countries
- Has a pet
- Can salsa dance
- Has been with their company for 10+ years
- Is bilingual
- Plays an instrument
Icebreaker activities for events #3: Human bingo version two
To make the human bingo game even more interesting, make the questions specifically about your attendees. In your event registration process, ask attendees to write a fun or mysterious fact about themselves. If you’re using Eventbrite, this can be done by 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 each fact applies to, crossing off as many as possible.
Icebreaker activities for events #4: Nostalgic games
Set up some nostalgic group 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 a fun icebreaker activity for in-person events, as the games get people interacting and the name tags open up conversations about entertaining childhood stories.
Icebreaker activities for events #5: Pictionary
Break participants into groups and ask them to draw something about themselves for the group to guess. For example, explain their job title or favourite travel destination with pictures.
Icebreaker activities for events #6: Shared storytelling
Storytelling is a 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” or “How did your first job help you get to where you are today?” Ask attendees to prepare a quick story that they can share with small groups or up on stage.
Icebreaker activities for events #7: Speed networking
Pair participants up for just two to three 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. Choose a unique venue with suitable seating to ensure your attendees enjoy the experience.
Icebreaker activities for events #8: Human spectrogram
This format essentially involves voting with your feet at an in-person event. Ask the group three or four key questions and have 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 for an ideal icebreaker at the start of a session and can be repeated at the end to measure shifts in opinion.
Icebreaker activities for events #9: Think tank
Fun icebreakers aren’t just about getting people over their initial shyness. They can also serve as productive, energetic kick-off sessions. Pair participants in-person or online using video conference technology to brainstorm what they want to achieve from the event. This bonds attendees and will also help you better structure the rest of the day.
Icebreaker activities 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”. If you’re holding a hybrid or virtual event, this game should bring an entertaining mix of items from around the home or office.
Icebreaker activities for events #11: Two truths and a lie
A classic icebreaker is to have participants tell the group three things about themselves. Two should be true, and one a lie. It’s up to the group to figure out which fact is a fib by asking funny icebreaker questions.
Icebreaker activities for events #12: Structured Q&As
Another way to involve participants in upcoming Q&As and help them get to know each other at the same time? Engage online attendees using breakout rooms for a fun Zoom icebreaker. Have each group come up with two or three icebreaker questions to ask the event’s panellists or speakers.
Icebreaker activities for events #13: Tallest tower
Provide a variety of items to build with (for instance toothpicks, newspapers, uncooked pasta, or wooden blocks). Split 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 fun icebreaker encourages participants to work together as a team, using their creative problem-solving skills.
Icebreaker activities for events #14: Arts and 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’d like. They can use anything from paper crowns to floral arrangements and paint – whatever they choose, it’s a great way for them to get chatting with someone new.
Icebreaker activities for events #15: Virtual tours
This one is only for virtual – or possibly hybrid – events: Encourage attendees of your online meeting to give quick virtual tours of their home office or work desk. People will feel more like they are in the same room by seeing their colleagues’ workspaces, and will be more relaxed and engaged with what follows.
Start networking now
Icebreaker games don’t have to be held in person – you can use online icebreakers for COVID-safe virtual or hybrid events. Get your attendees talking by taking these ideas and starting your next networking event today.