Icebreakers are great ways to lighten the atmosphere of any networking event and begin the bonding process. Here are six easy, low-preparation games to play at your next networking event:
1. Ask Me About My…
Materials: Name tags.
Ideal for: Groups that shy away from formal icebreakers.
This game is simple and a great option if you’re looking for a low-maintenance icebreaker that can last the duration of your event. How it works: as guests enter, hand them a blank name tag and instruct them to write a personal fact, passion, or life-event on it beginning with the phrase “Ask me about my…”
For example, one guest’s name tag might read “Ask me about my RuPaul’s Drag Race Pool Picks.” Another guests’ might read “Ask me about my dog-walking business.” For the rest of the night, your guests will have an immediate point of engagement with anyone that they meet.
2. Mistaken Identity
Materials: Name tags.
Ideal for: Large groups with limited time.
This game is similar to “Ask Me About My…” but won’t span the entirety of your event. How it works: prior to your guests arriving, write all of their names on name tags. As your guests arrive, hand out the name tags at random, making sure that no guest actually gets their own name. Once arrived, instruct everyone to find the person who is wearing their name tag. Once they find their name, they must introduce themselves with three facts about themselves in order to get it back.
3. Four of a Kind
Materials: Decks of cards (enough for the number of attendees).
Ideal for: Large groups with a competitive edge.
If you’re looking for a fun, quick icebreaker that has a competitive edge, Four of a Kind is a great option. How it works: each guest is handed a card at random. Once everyone has a card, they must race to find three other people with the same card in a different suit. Once in their group of four, they must find something interesting that they all share in common (How to judge what’s interesting is up to you, but is good to include to prevent things like “We’re all wearing clothes.”) You can have prizes for groups who finish first, second, or third.
To make things harder: don’t let them talk. It’ll make finding their pairs difficult, and finding out what they have in common even more difficult if it’s through mime.
4. Work-Bag Show and Tell
Materials needed: Nothing.
Ideal for: More intimate settings.
If you didn’t have time to prepare anything for your event, Show and Tell is always an easy icebreaker to pull out of your back pocket. How it works: Every guest digs through their bag, purse, wallet, pockets and finds an item that they’d be willing to share a story with the group about—it’s that simple. You might be surprised how interesting the stories that people carry around actually are.
Bonus: if people are willing to part with their items, you can also ask them to drop their item in a basket with their name on it. At the end of the event, guests can reach into the grab-bag and leave with someone else’s item and a new story to tell.
Materials needed: None.
Ideal for: Small, active groups.
If you’re looking for an easy, active icebreaker that requires no preparation, look no further than Train. How it works: everyone stands in a circle with one person in the center (it might be good for whoever is leading the activity to start in the center). The center-person starts by telling the group a fact about themselves—for example: “My favorite television show is The Great British Baking Show.” Then anyone whose favorite television show is also The Great British Baking Show must leave their spot in the circle and try to find another—while center-person runs to take one of theirs. Whoever is left in the center, without a spot, shares the next fact. If nobody in the circle enjoys The Great British Baking Show, the center-person must share another fact until there is someone whose spot they can take.
*Pro-tip: imposing a “no running” rule is good for larger groups, especially if concussions aren’t the bonding you’re after.
6. Human B-I-N-G-O
Materials needed: Bingo Sheets.
Ideal for: Active groups looking for a durational icebreaker.
Human Bingo is a popular icebreaker but requires a little more preparation than the rest of this list. How it works: everyone is handed a B-I-N-G-O sheet with each of the squares containing a fact instead of a number (pro-tip: you can find pre-made Human B-I-N-G-O sheets online if you don’t want to make your own).
As guests interact with each other, their task is to find people who are, or have done, the facts on their card. If they meet someone who fits one of the squares, they ask the person to initial the square. The first person to create a B-I-N-G-O on the card is declared the winner.