Expert Article: Breaking the ice to facilitate enhanced event outcomes
In the first in our series of expert masterclasses, Alison Glaves, Managing Director at MEDIAmaker, gives you her insight into the most effective ways of using icebreakers at your event. Alison has over 25 years experience in creating communication solutions in live events.
The mere thought of attending an event can be daunting for some delegates. A day of ‘unknowns’ and varying expectations. Delegates from the same business may not know the person sitting next to them, working in different departments or at different seniority levels. Even the most confident of souls may struggle to relax in a room full of unfamiliar faces let alone engage with them. This is where ‘Ice Breakers’ can change the expectation quite quickly.
Icebreakers are a great way of encouraging delegates to relax and get to know the people they will spend the day with. They remove barriers and encourage honest communication, creating lasting memories and building positive memories of the event.
This openness will ensure delegates leave with a positive memory of the event.
Starting as you mean to go on
Using icebreakers is a great way to promote collaboration and can set the tone for the event. It’s important to encourage a level of comradery from the outset. Start the day as you mean to carry on and don’t let straying from tradition scare you. Open your event with a dynamic introduction.
We recently held a teambuilding conference for a national retailer. Part of the brief was to open with an exercise that would make an impact and encourage the attendees to work together.
Delegates arrived at a blacked out room with coloured shapes projected onto the floor. On their name badges was a coloured shape which corresponded to those on the floor, disclosing which group they were to join. The delegates were not given instructions. Instead they had to work together and use their initiative to get themselves into teams.
Once in their groups, we asked them to use the materials provided to build a ‘rollercoaster’, which would transport a basketball down the structure. To complete the exercise the teams had to work together. They had to listen to everyone’s ideas and use each person’s expertise to their advantage.
After completing the task, all the ‘rollercoasters’ joined together to attempt to transport the ball around the room. The success of the opening challenge was celebrated with pyrotechnics, before the conference area was revealed with music, lights and video.
Introducing events in an impactful way, that demands action from delegates, forces them outside of their ‘comfort zone’. At first, working with strangers may be awkward for some but it paves the way for better collaboration and problem solving in the future.
One size doesn’t fit all
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to incorporating icebreakers into conferences and events. There are many tactics to choose from, including speed dating, trust based games or even problem solving scenarios.
Everyone learns differently, and games are just one way to incorporate various learning styles into your event. It’s about finding the right activity to help you achieve the desired tone and outcomes for your event. Think about your audience, their likes, interests and demographics. By tailoring your activities to suit your audience you will ensure they stay engaged and gain the most benefit.
National manufacturer of heating and hot water systems, Vaillant, gave us the task of hosting a teambuilding event for their employees in London recently. To relax the delegates, our team opened with a simple yet effective icebreaker called “What am I?”.
As the event was hosted in London, bowler hats were introduced into the exercise. Post-It notes describing an industry-related item or company name were placed onto the hats, and the delegates had to ask questions about who or what they were to win the game.
This was somewhat a baptism of fire for many of the delegates who had expected an easy day out of the office, with minimal interaction. But, it was a great way to build an immediate rapport between delegates and keep energy levels high. This activity led to enhanced delegate engagement and better understanding of the ideas delivered.
Ultimately, the type of icebreakers you choose will establish the tone for the day and lay the foundations for delivering the event’s objectives. Communication is a crucial way to build meaningful relationships between peers and promote business success. Anything that facilitates this happening should be held in high esteem by those responsible for corporate conferences and events planning.
MEDIAmaker is a multi-channel communications agency with offices in London and Nottingham. They offer a range of multiple media solutions including event management, video production and web design & development services.
With over 20 years of experience of uniting flawless planning and logistics with innovative technical solutions and creative, interactive agendas MEDIAmaker communicate compelling messages on budget and to the highest possible standards.
Their knowledge of the world of technology allows them to deploy the latest digital trends from online digital portals, interactive presentations to online registration systems.
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