A conference room full of strangers can make for silent, awkward beginnings. Even a meeting of employees from different departments may need starter fuel to spark meaningful conversation.
Try these ideas to help break down introduction barriers and get audiences engaged and interacting:
Kudos To Handshakes
The Human Knot game underscores the importance of initial business greetings. Similar to Twister, minus the compromising positions, groups form a close circle – 10 people maximum per circle. Each member puts a hand in the middle and grasps another person’s hand while introducing themselves. The instruction is not to let go. Once all hand-name connections are made, their task is to unravel the “human knot” without letting go of hands and using first names in guiding maneuvers to recreate a perfect circle.
Weave The People helps jumpstart gatherings by encouraging participants to complete a short pre-event survey skewed to meeting objective along with a few personal introduction questions, and request to upload a photo. Using resulting answers, the company builds a “weave,” a customized interactive participant visual that profiles all attendees, viewable online prior to the event. Not only does it recognize every participant but it helps boost networking and meeting agenda priorities. Makes an excellent on-site visual too.
Tools To Use
Edmonton’s High 5 Teambuilding offers a great online store for easy-to-use icebreaker products. Among the facilitation tools available is the GabtoGo, a cup filled with 100 fun questions to stimulate conversation and get participants sharing information about themselves. For something a little more physical, check out the Thumbnail Meet & Greet. Similar in look to a soccer ball, each panel (there are 32 of them) holds a printed question. Toss the ball with participants catching and answering the question under their thumb.
Element of Surprise
The unexpected is always a conversation starter. Watch an audience come alive with murmurs and exchanged conspiratorial glances once Steve Ivings hits the stage as a much lauded guest speaker who appears to have had one too many cocktails or is too nervous to speak. The comedian-impressionist is a master at characters, playing an audience for a true jokes-on-them bonding experience. Performances are tailored for topical messaging.
Have A Laugh
Laughter is a universal language and healthy stress buster that naturally elevates mood and raises energy – a perfect state to launch a meeting. Laughter yoga coach Ali Tennen of Yoga Interlude helps groups find their funny bone through fun, easy laughter exercises that incorporate yoga breathing. To start, have participants introduce themselves with their signature laugh. While the giggles may be forced at first, it’s not long before inhibitions evaporate into real belly laughs. Sessions are customizable to any group size, length, and meeting topic.