Does your association or chamber of commerce hold regular luncheons (or breakfasts)? If so, you know one of the biggest value props is the networking attendees are able to conduct with others. 

But as much as your attendees may want to network, for many people, it’s a challenge – at least getting the conversation going. 

To help them out – and, thus, help them get even MORE value from your event – check out these three ice breaker ideas:

1. “Gone Bowling”

As much fun as it would be if we were talking about traditional bowling, don’t worry, this one doesn’t involve a bowling ball or pins. Instead, it involves a number of fun questions written or typed on a piece of paper and tossed into a bowl. Attendees would then pass the bowl around (ideally, there’d be one on each table) and select a question (at random!) to answer. 

Questions could include…

  • What’s your favorite movie? 
  • If you could live in any city, which city would you live in and why?
  • If you had to choose one song to listen to for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  • What was the first concert you attended?

By having everyone answer different questions, it adds an element of gamification and gives attendees even more to talk about. (Movies, cities, music, etc.) 

2. “3 Things in Common”

People really connect when they’re able to find things in common with each other. Help them out by encouraging them to find three things everyone at that table has in common. 

But here’s the twist: encourage them to get as unique and “out there” as possible. It’d be easy for them to say, “Well, we’re all educators,” or “We’re all at this lunch.” But that’s no fun! Instead, tell attendees that the table with the most unique set of similarities wins a prize. (That prize could be a gift card, special swag, swag from one of your sponsors, etc.) 

To get better responses, you may even want to give them a few examples – to really get their minds going. For example, “We’ve all been out of the country twice,” or “We were all born out of state.” 

An activity like this allows your attendees to connect on a more personal level and form a bond that’s more likely to last. 

3. “Fact or Fiction”

This is one that, if you’d like, you can use to introduce your speaker. On a piece of paper at each table (or on a projector), have a list of statements regarding your speaker and/or the topic he or she is about to discuss. 

For example, let’s say you work for a human resources management association and you have a speaker coming in to talk about conflict in the workplace. Well, you could have a list of workplace-conflict-related statements (which you could ask your speaker to provide) and encourage each table to discuss and determine whether they think those statements are fact or fiction. 

Here’s a sample statement for this particular example: “The average American employee spends two hours every week dealing with conflict.” (Fact!) 

Your speaker could then identify which statements were, in fact, true in their presentation (along with which ones were false), but the real value is this type of activity gives your attendees something to talk about and eases them into the main event – the speaker’s presentation! 

Speaking of networking events, whether you’re planning a luncheon or your annual conference, “success,” to a large extent all depends on how engaged your attendees are. For a few additional tips regarding attendee engagement, check out our free guide below!