Guaranteed Ice-Breakers for Any PR Event

23 Feb Guaranteed Ice-Breakers for Any PR Event

Jackie BarrieReaching out to potential clients often involves hosting events or functions where it’s vital to get people feeling at ease and relaxed as soon as possible. Jackie Barrie gives us her suggestions for some ice-breakers that work- fast. And believe me, I’ve tried them!

Snowballs

Each person writes their name and two unusual facts about themselves on a piece of paper. Then screw all the pieces of paper into ‘snowballs’ and throw them to each other. General mayhem ensues! After a few moments, you stop the throwing, and everyone has to find the person who wrote the page they are holding. They then have to find out one other unusual fact about that person. Finally, they introduce the other person (and their facts) to the rest of the group.

Pass the parcel

Good fun for any number. Needs some preparation though, and music! You can probably take your own CD player and CDs, but better check this is OK with the venue and remember to take an extension lead, just in case. The game works just like the kids’ version but you put a question to be answered in each layer of the parcel to be unwrapped.

They can be business questions e.g. ‘Describe your ideal client?’ or social e.g. ‘What was your best-ever holiday?’ You can also put little prizes in, sweets etc., perhaps with a bigger prize in the middle e.g. the entrance fee refunded.

Networking bingo

This works best for groups of 20 or more. In advance… Prepare a ‘bingo sheet’. Down the left hand column, list various characteristics of the people you expect to attend, e.g. ‘solicitor’ or ‘has blue eyes’. Leave a corresponding space down the right hand column. You can choose whatever categories you wish, as serious or silly as appropriate. Copy / print enough so there is a bingo sheet for everybody (plus a few over just in case). You may need to provide pens as well. On the day… Allow 10 minutes (yes, just 10 minutes!) for people to collect as many signatures as they can on their bingo sheet. One person can only sign once on any page, and you cannot sign your own.

The first person to collect 20 different signatures wins the prize (if it’s a paid event, I give away a bottle of champagne / wine, if it’s a free event, I give away the chance to present your business for 1-minute to the audience so they all know who you are and what you do).

If you run out of time, the person with the most signatures wins (count down from 20, 19, 18 etc.).

Optional extras… You can insist that they exchange business cards along with signatures. You can go through the list afterwards with a show of hands so everyone can see who in the whole audience qualifies for each category.

The benefits… It’s a great ice-breaker, people can get really competitive and start climbing over chairs to collect signatures! It’s not ‘proper networking’ but you do learn a little something about other people and find random connections to follow up later. It’s fun!

Pennies in a basket

This ice-breaker works for any number of attendees.

Give everyone 10 x 1p coins, and put an empty basket (or other receptacle) in the centre of the table. Go round the table with everyone in turn saying something they have never done. If other people have done that thing, they put a penny in the basket. Keep going round until whoever runs out of pennies first is the winner, for being the most adventurous person in the room! Get all the other pennies back and you won’t even be out of pocket!

Warm fuzzies

This is a good way of breaking a big group into smaller ones. Get some fluffy balls from a craft shop, about 20 for £1. Everyone takes a ball when they arrive, creating a nice sense of anticipation. On the organiser’s instruction, they have to find the other people with the same size and colour balls (!). They then present to their small groups for one minute each (as BRE/BNI) on who they are, what they do, why they are good at it, and what they are looking for. You need a whistle or gong to make a loud noise every 60 seconds to keep it moving along.

Key words

You can also achieve random small groups by putting an index card on each person’s chair with a key word written on it. The key words are in groups e.g. of 5 things to do with hamburgers, 5 superheroes, 5 soap stars or whatever. It’s interesting to see who chooses to sit where! On your command, people have to find the others in their group (although I’ve had people trying to match Julia Roberts with whipped cream before!) and present to each other as for ‘warm fuzzies’ above.

Categories

Each person in turn asks a defining question e.g. if you were an animal what would you be and why? It goes round the table and everyone has to answer what they would be as an animal, then in turn they choose their own category for themselves and the others to answer. You can set the tone yourself, e.g. If I were an animal I’d have to be a sheep because my boyfriend is Welsh (ahem).

Truth or lies

Go round the table and each person says 3 things about themselves, 2 must be true and the other a lie, the rest have to guess the lie.

For instance, I didn’t get where I am today without being: a) a bar-maid b) a secretary c) a tea-lady!

Jackie Barrie founded Comms Plus in 2001. It’s a writing and design business that specialises in making complex information appear simple. You can find out more at www.comms-plus.co.uk

 

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