My first (sit on a mat in a garden) picnic ever was as a kid and I barely remember most of the activities. Here’s what I remember though, there was food, drinks, lots of laughter, familiar faces and running around.
I got the chance to relieve those beautiful memories again as I recently attended an event for creatives in Lagos, Nigeria. It was a picnic tagged Network and Chill with TBA and was organized by The Bloggers’ Advocate . It held at a lush garden (Jhalobia Recreation Park And Gardens) along the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
From what I have seen and heard, bloggers’ are usually the ones who turn up at events meant for creatives, but it was interesting to have a mix of creatives from different fields at this event. We had Skin Consultants, A Nail Technician, Photographers, Tech Gurus, Fashion Brand Owners, Business Owners and of course Bloggers/Vloggers from various niches.
As lovely as it is to be in a space filled with potential clients or prospects for collaboration, a major problem for creatives have always been – not knowing how to network and make the best off these networking events. Networking is not a very easy feat as you must be selling value as well as be convincing enough. Some people are either shy, some have no idea of how to make a business pitch or even know anything about basic conversation starters.
For anyone who falls in this category, the norm will be to attend an event with known faces and have conversations with just the people you know. Let’s not get started on how much opportunities can be missed from not networking properly at events.
Read: Branding And Networking
Having attended a number of networking events, I have noticed how some event organizers may have identified this as a problem. I also see how event organizers have taken the initiative to help attendees network better by including icebreaker sessions at networking events.
Ice breaker is an activity or game that is introduced to help lighten the mood at an event. It is an effective way to get people to start conversations, interact, get to know each other and basically ‘warm-up’ to each other before the main event.
This means that participants do not have to feel awkward about starting up conversations especially if they fully participate during ice breaking activities.
I noticed the Ice breaker trend as well at The Bloggers’ Advocate’s picnic, as almost every activity was geared towards making the creatives present interact with each other. I must also add that – to get a high level of interaction, it is important that those in attendance are interested in having conversations, can actually hold conversations and participate fully during ice breaking sessions.
Importance Of Ice Breaking Activities At An Event.
- Ice breakers are great conversation starters for participants.
- Ice breakers help release tension while in a place with strangers.
- Ice breakers foster networking opportunities.
- Ice breakers aid easy transitioning into the main reason for the event. This benefits the convener and the attendees.
- Encourages genuine conversations amongst participants .
- Encourages team work.
- Gives you an opportunity to make a mental list of potential clients or prospects to approach with your pitch.
It is safe to say that Ice Breaking activities are a welcome idea at events. The beauty of this is, Ice Breaking activities can be curated to fit into the theme of any event. This means that one can include ice breaking activities at office meetings, bridal showers, book clubs and basically any event where people will be meeting each other for the first time.
5 Ice Breaking Activities That Can Aid Interaction.
1. Reshuffle Seating Arrangement (Find your pair).
This may not be welcomed at every event as people will most likely walk in with friends or acquaintances. If this will be introduced, it must be implemented with tact. However, with the right number of guests and how cooperative they are, it can be pulled of easily.
Introduce a fun pairing game and make attendees find their match or make people seat together using their favorite colour. Whatever strategy you use, just make sure it is fun and not forceful.
The pairing game was pulled off nicely at the picnic and I saw how it fostered interaction and new conversations. Nice one TBA!
2. Introduce Team Games And Add A Prize.
Again, Team games are a good way to tactically get attendees to spend time with people other than their friends and interact.
Some great ideas include painting on the spot, guess the song, spot the difference e.t.c
The games can also be designed to suit the theme of the event just as it was done at the picnic. We solved crossword puzzles and the words were blog/website related.
The idea is not for the games to be competitive but to encourage team bonding.
3. Two Truths, One Lie (Guessing Game).
This is another way to get participants to exchange conversations about each other without necessarily moving seats.
For this activity, Participant A tells Participant B three (3) things about himself or herself. Two of the statements should be true and one should be a lie. The fun part is getting Participant B to guess which of the sentence is a lie.
This continues in a chain until everyone gets a turn. I have participated in this activity and it’s a proven method to get people to have a good laugh and warm-up to each other.
4. Create A Short Story In 2 Minutes.
This involves a bit of brainstorming but trust me, the process of creating a story that seems convincing is just the perfect game for creatives.
Here, a team of 3 or 4 participants are made to create a story using their individual job/responsibility as the body of the story. It should also be in line with the theme of the event and can be timed. At the expiration of the time given, one person out of the team is called upon to share the story with everyone.
When I played this game, I was the blogger, we had a psychologist and a lawyer.
Summary of our winning story – Faith is a blogger and wrote a story on her blog about a girl who got raped. The girl was mentally affected after the incident and was seeking justice. Clara is a Psychologist who also reads Faith’s blog. Clara reached out to Faith, offered free sessions to the girl who got raped and agreed to link her up with Tina, who is Clara’s friend and Lawyer. Tina agreed to take the case and eventually the rapist was convicted.
This ice breaker activity is an effective way for the participants to know each other’s name, what kind of job they do and their responsibilities at work.
5. Ask Questions Related To The Event.
This is usually the most adopted form of ice breaking activity at events especially if it is a lecture. Lecturers or Teachers tend to start off by asking questions as it helps to ease into the lecture smoothly.
Public speakers also adopt this method as it gives then the chance to gain composure and measure how much of the audience attention they have. At one of my public speaking classes, one lecturer started off by asking everyone to choose between writing or public speaking as a preferred method of expression. We also had to explain the reason for our choice.
It was only after everyone got their turn at speaking that he then mentioned we just had our ice breaking session. This way, we knew each other’s name and he was able to gauge our individual speaking ability.
Ice breaking activities are beneficial to both the organizers and the attendees as it improves engagement at events. The organizers have a responsive audience and the participants network better.
If you get the chance to organize an event, do not forget to include ice breaking activities.
Share your thoughts.
What Ice breaking activities have you participated in?
Do you network easily at events?
Care to share your networking tips?
I always love to read from you.