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Icebreakers can be fun and memorable, but you have to know your group. Check out our collection of icebreaker ideas for all segments of your meeting—and advice from a veteran on how to find the best activity for your group. (Hint: Be brave!)
Icebreakers to Use at a Reception
Created by Orlando-based company Play with a Purpose, is designed as a structured program where participants are assigned to teams to create a signature cocktail. This activity often can dovetail with the meeting goals. For example, a hotel company once held a meeting planner fam during which they wanted to introduce several new properties across the country. Each Mixology team was assigned a city where a new hotel was located, and told to create a drink for the opening of the hotel in that city.
Play up the business angle by having facilitators discuss promotions and tie-ins, explaining how the Cosmopolitan took off after it was featured on episodes of “Sex and the City,” and how bartenders create their own simple syrup recipes, which become their brands.
The teams create names for their drinks, along with a branding piece (imagine a tent card on a bar announcing it as that evening’s special drink), and then each team pitches the larger group on its creation.
TRIED AND TRUE: "TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE"
When Play with a Purpose conducts this classic icebreaker, the company encourages planners to get their attendees to submit information ahead of time. Ask all participants to contribute three things about themselves—two that are true and one that is a (believable) lie. Ask for things that are a bit unusual and that most people wouldn’t know (“I’m a certified belly-dance instructor” rather than “I have two kids”).
Facilitators create stickers or name badge inserts with the three statements and everyone gets a certain number of tickets. As people mingle, they try to guess the lie on others’ tags. If a person guesses correctly on the first try, that person gets a ticket. If not, he or she has to give the successful liar a ticket.
THE NEWEST IDEA IN COCKTAIL PARTY CHAT
“What’s popular lately is to create conversation points,” says Sharon Fisher of Play with a Purpose, a teambuilding company based in Orlando. “Rather than mixers, where individuals have to approach other individuals, in this scenario you create a place for people to gather and discuss a topic.”
The setup requires a computer and printer. Pick a topic that has to do with your meeting content—say, leadership. Ask each participant to give a facilitator one word that defines leadership. The facilitator inputs all of the attendees’ words into a program that creates a word cloud. Word clouds are a graphic representation of all the responses, and the size of a word indicates how often the same word was repeated. The facilitator prints out the word cloud and tacks it up on an easel or other surface.
You can create a few different word clouds for your reception on a range of topics (what’s the best part of attending this meeting, what sparks your creativity, what is your favorite vacation spot), and this creates many casual conversational areas where people have something to start talking about. “It works so well at cocktail parties because it’s a spot where people can gather,” Fisher says. “It gives introverts a reason to talk to people, creates a place for them to go.”