Icebreakers have been a business meeting staple for decades.
It’s not uncommon, though, for these activities to be met with eye rolls and sarcastic enthusiasm from meeting attendees. Sometimes, people bond more over how corny an icebreaker is, than from the actual icebreaker itself!
At The Grand Event Center, we’ve witnessed several icebreakers throughout dozens of business events. While some were groan-inducing, a select few stood out from the pack in successfully engaging attendees.
In order to better help you kick off your next business meeting, we put together this list of five fun, non-corny icebreakers we’ve seen work at our Columbus events center.
Noun and Verb
This icebreaker activity is a great way to get your attendees’ creative juices flowing in a fun, interactive way. To play Noun and Verb, all you need is two large pads of paper or a whiteboard. Here’s how it works:
First, the speaker will ask all business meeting participants to yell out as many nouns as they can in 30-60 seconds. Someone on the stage will then write them down on a whiteboard or large pad of paper. After 30-60 seconds, repeat the exercise with verbs.
Once a list of nouns and verbs has been created, break the room up into teams. Have one representative from each team come up to the stage and circle one noun and one verb. This is now the name of that team’s fictional company.
Next, using only their noun and verb as inspiration, each team has 5-10 minutes to come up with a mini pitch for their new business. This is where the fun part comes in, as each team must flex their creative muscles to figure out what their company could possibly be.
Finally, the teams will come to the stage and pitch their business to the rest of the attendees – a Shark Tank-esque presentation that often ends with laughter and good cheer.
Choosing an icebreaker that’s drawn out and complicated is one of the biggest mistakes a business meeting organizer can make. Rather than overthink it, try to keep it simple by having your attendees ask each other three simple questions:
- What’s your name?
- What do you do?
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
The first two questions reveal basic, yet important information about each participant. The final question allows people to find common ground and open up in a fun, light-hearted way. Depending on the purpose of the business meeting, it’s fine to switch up the questions – the important thing, though, is to keep them uncomplicated.
Sit Down If…
This casual business event icebreaker is perfect for larger groups, and doesn’t take too much time. The game begins with everyone standing. The speaker on stage will then begin by calling out a statement – for example, “Sit down if you ate a bowl of cereal this morning”.
Everyone to whom the statement applies sits down, and the speaker continues with another statement. Once you’ve sat down, you cannot stand back up, and the last person standing is declared the winner and given a prize (if you so choose).
The statements you choose can be either light-hearted and whimsical or related to the business in some way – for example, “Sit down if you were X dollars or more over your sales quota last quarter” – or, a combination of the two.
A Penny for Your Memory
A Penny for Your Memory is a fun icebreaker to play when your business meeting is broken up by table. It’s an interesting activity that gives attendees the chance to learn a bit more about the people they’re sitting with. All that is required is a penny for each chair at the table.
When the icebreaker starts, everyone will take their penny, go around the table, and say a memory they have from the year on the coin. This can be work-related or personal, funny or serious – the fewer restrictions the better. It also helps to have a few extra pennies at each table, in cases where the year of the penny pre-dates the person holding it.
These four activities work well in any space at the Grand Events Center – from our spacious, 4,000 square foot ballroom for larger groups, to our multiple breakout rooms for smaller sized groups.