Event Icebreaker: Social Bingo

Event Icebreaker

Need a technique to get your event attendees talking to one another – and to you – that doesn’t feel forced? Try Social Bingo. Here’s how it works:

THE BINGO CARD

Before the event, design a 5×5″ Bingo card with short phrases in place of numbers. Don’t forget to keep the middle square as “BINGO” to indicate it is a free space. Make enough copies to accommodate everyone in the crowd. Here are a few ideas for card phrases…

Just for Fun
(when your goal is to simply get the crowd talking to and learning a bit about each other)

  • Never been to Disneyland
  • Ran a marathon
  • Woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning

Cause-related
(for a nonprofit event such as our client, United Way)

  • Has volunteered with the United Way in the last year
  • Is wearing a United Way t-shirt
  • Can name the three pillars of United Way’s community giving

Business or Brand-related
(for a tech-centered event such as a user conference)

  • Has developed and launched an iPhone app
  • Works in a coworking space
  • Active GitHub user
  • Favorite coding language is Python
  • Won a hack-a-thon
  • Has first-round funding

Activity-based
(to get people moving and observing)

  • Wearing red shoes
  • Can perform the Harlem Shake
  • Can perform “I’m a little tea cup”
  • Wore mismatched socks today

We recommend a mix of all four of the above-mentioned examples. You can make them more sophisticated or simpler depending on your audience and the tone of your event.

STEPS TO PLAY

  1. Hand each attendee a Bingo card and a pen.
  2. Announce the amount of time to play and the prizes available to winners.
  3. Instruct players to approach one another and ask if the other person fits a square on the card. Tell them to ask other attendees direct questions such as, “Can you dance the macarena?” then ask them to write their name in the square if they did. Or point out that they fit a square. “You’re wearing a Yankees cap, will you sign this square?”
  4. Ask people to holler once they have BINGO (five through the middle.
  5. Watch attendees get to know one another – it’s fast, fun, and engaging! Competitive people go nuts, rushing around and grabbing up new friends. Casual participants can’t help getting into it, and the performers in the group draw others out as they dance or sing.
  6. When someone hollers BINGO, ask them to come to the front to claim his/her prize.

Do you have a favorite icebreaker to share? Tweet us your ideas (@kennedy_events_).

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