irtual meetups & networking events are now a part of most communities’ outreach plans, especially with a higher focus on online conferences & workshops..
The idea of a networking event is for like-minded individuals to interact with their peers, build connections, learn from each other, grow their professional network and generate potential personal & professional leads.
But what can you, the community manager, do to build a more engaging experience for everyone?
The answer lies in using a few fun, effective & easy-to-implement ice-breaker activities and games.
Ice-breakers aim to get people to overcome communication barriers, jump-start meetings and build a closer bond with each other. But when you attendees are joining in remotely, you need to choose these activities carefully and tailor them to meet your needs.
But before we dive into the interesting engagement activities, let’s talk about a few hygiene pointers you should definitely consider before deciding on any exercises.
Points To Be Considered While Planning Virtual Icebreakers
- Geographic Locations: Where are your participants located? Their time zone, the kind of activity they may be interested in, these aspects need to be considered for a digital event because it determines their level of participation.
- Time: How much time you have determines the kind of activities or games you can plan & execute. Make sure the event is not just about icebreakers!
- Cultural Background: Your virtual meetup might have participants from a variety of backgrounds with cultural barriers or differences. Ensure that your icebreakers take into account unique perspectives and accommodate diversity. Icebreakers should make everyone feel comfortable and not vice-versa.
- Group Size: An ideal group size for virtual icebreakers would be around 15-20 people or lesser. For larger group sizes, especially in virtual events or conferences, icebreakers would be effective only if you break the group down into smaller numbers & give them tasks they can work on together as a team.
This can be done beautifully if you’re using Airmeet’s social lounge for your networking.
- Technology: Ensure that the virtual event platform that you are choosing has the right set of features to suit your icebreaker activities and possibly has the ability to create breakout rooms or virtual tables.
- Inform Participants in Advance: Certain icebreakers may need preparation from your attendees. Inform them in advance, so they have time to prepare and that could also help build excitement in the group!
Effective (& Fun) Icebreaker Examples
They say, “A great joke is the best icebreaker.” You may want to start with that, but if you’re anything like me, you know it won’t work!
So go ahead & try these activities to make everyone comfortable at your next virtual meetup or event:
- Guess the Name: In a group where the attendees do not know each other, this could be a fun way of getting to know everyone. Ask your attendees to offer a clue, instead of just displaying their name or introducing themselves.
For instance, Roger can write, “I share my name with a tennis player who has won the maximum grand slam titles”. Alternatively, attendees could also leave blanks in their names to let others guess it. Eg.: O_ _ M _ for OBAMA.
- Two Truths And A Lie: It is a popular and exciting icebreaker game to know more about each other and get even the most reserved person to participate.
Ask everyone to write two truths, and one lie about themselves on a sheet on paper in a random order. Then turn by turn, everyone has to hold up their sheet and share it with others while they vote to identify what’s the truth and which one’s the lie.
The idea is to enable the group to work together to identify the one hidden lie and to discover two facts about the other person. The virtual event platform you use has a part to play and should allow attendees to share their screen. Airmeet enables up to 16 speakers to share the screen in a session (just saying)!
“Event or #meetup organizers should definitely consider a few fun ice-breaker games like “Guess the Name” or “Travel Tales” to create an engaging networking experience for their #community.”
- Tell Me More: This activity will help your attendees to share and learn more about one another. Share a country/world map on the screen and ask the attendees to mark where they were born and where they currently live on the map. Next, ask them to share one thing about themselves or about the place they live at currently.
- Travel Tales: Post a picture of the city, country or continent from which you are hosting your event. Ask the participants to make a list of all the places they have visited on the shared map. They get one point for each place visited. The person with the highest score gets to share their favorite travel tale with others and maybe other benefits like backstage access to the speaker!
- Trivia: A trivia quiz for all the attendees can be another entertaining icebreaker. The quiz could be based on a theme like movies, environment, sports you name it. You could make this quiz interesting by anticipating the interests of your attendees. Alternatively, tailor the quiz to have questions around the event or conference’s theme. It would be an engaging way to start the event & a nice build up as well.
P.S: These activities work well with groups who do not know each other. If your event is an online workshop or company town hall where the same participants meet again or if you are looking to build a community, you could try activities like Two Truths And A Lie or a Talent Show where a participant could showcase their talent.
You could also have your participants give others a virtual tour of their home or workspace.
While most community managers use icebreakers at the beginning of the event, we suggest that you try & space them out. In long-format events, an icebreaker offers some respite from the scheduled activities. (Read more about “How to plan a large scale online event?”)
Stay focussed and get your attendees involved. These simple rules will ensure that your entire event is a success & you build a happier, more engaged community.