No conference is complete without some fun and interactive activities to keep the people entertained. Here are six of my favorite conference activities that keep things interesting from start to finish.
My Top Activity Picks
- It’s always a good idea to start with icebreakers
- For either an in-person or virtual event, host a scavenger hunt
- A trivia competition can encourage fun while spreading new knowledge
- Group attendees together for some World Cafes
- Host a talent show!
- Encourage some show and tell
See Related: The Best Conference Entertainment Ideas Of 2023
#1. Start With Icebreakers
Each conference should be unique. There should always be something that sets your event apart from the rest. You want all attendees to go home and remember the event. Make a mark in their minds.
But you can’t just jump into some crazy activity without getting the people ready. There’s probably a good chunk of people out there who are in their shells. Not all of us are extroverts who are prepared to max out the social meter at the first chance.
To kick off your conference, you should always open with simple activities that get people’s brains flowing and mouths moving. It’s the first step to getting your attendees comfortable. And once they’re comfortable, the real fun can start!
A safe place to start is always with some icebreakers. With the right ones, you can really get people to open up and get things started on the right foot.
There are plenty of different types of icebreaker activities out there, and it’s essential to pick the right ones for your audience. Not all activities will fit your audience.
Traditionally, icebreakers start with simple questions. It gets people thinking and sharing some info on themselves with those around them.
Keeping Your Conference Interesting With ICEBREAKERS
Here are ten of my personal favorite ICEBREAKER ideas.
I – Introductions
Here’s a simple starter! For smaller groups, this works perfectly. Have attendees introduce themselves and share an interesting fact about themselves.
You can make this “fact” as interesting as you want (i.e., have them share their favorite ice cream flavor or dream vacation location.)
C – Collaborative Puzzle
Time to get creative! Divide attendees into teams and give each team a puzzle to solve together. This gets people collaborating while encouraging communication and teamwork.
E – Energizers
Who says icebreakers need to be about chatting? Lead some quick physical energizers like stretching or dancing.
B – Brainstorming
Pose a question or challenge related to the conference theme and have attendees brainstorm ideas and solutions in groups.
R – Role Playing
This can be a fun twist to many regular icebreakers. Create scenarios about common workplace challenges and have attendees act out different roles. This can help promote understanding and empathy in the workplace.
E – Excursions
Not all icebreakers need to be done sitting down. Organize an off-site excursion or tour related to the conference theme, allowing attendees to explore and connect outside the conference venue.
A – Amusing Questions
Thought-provoking questions are often one of the best ways for people to open up. Ask attendees amusing questions, such as “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” or “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?”
K – Knowledge Exchange
Allow attendees to share skills or ideas with each other. You can set up stations where people can share ideas or knowledge, such as language skills or how to code.
E – Empathy Map
Let attendees fill out an empathy map together. By working in pairs or small groups, they can learn more about each other and better understand others in the organization.
R – Random Pairing
Pairing up people is perfect for getting people comfortable and letting new friendships form. Use a random pairing tool to group up attendees for brief conversations, encouraging networking and building new connections.
There are countless icebreaker ideas out there. Ensure you know your audience, and pick an icebreaker activity based on the attendees. Icebreakers aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all, so be mindful of what will work best.
As a corporate emcee, I’ve learned to match my conference or event activities with those attending. That’s how I can create an entertaining and interactive experience that lasts longer than the event itself.
#2. Put On A Scavenger Hunt
Not all conferences are in-person. There are plenty of hybrid or virtual conferences that take place, and it’s essential to find great ideas for those too.
Scavenger hunts are great conference activities that can take place in person or virtually. Let’s explore what an in-person scavenger hunt would look like.
You can start by hiding objects or items around the venue for an in-person scavenger hunt. Then, when it’s time for the activity to start, give attendees a list of things around the room. The first one to find them all wins!
(Of course, you can create variations as you see fit in order to suit the venue and type of conference properly.)
For a virtual scavenger hunt, it will be the same general idea but a bit different. You’ll have a list of items again, but it’s up to the attendees to find them around their own homes. They can also take photos of items. You can include things like:
- A self-help or non-fiction book
- Their favorite coffee mug
- Their pet (or a photo with an animal if they have no pet)
- Their work-from-home view
- Something they can’t live without
- A magazine
- Their dinner for that night
- Hand sanitizer
- A board game
- Face mask
You can really get creative with this. But make sure you have a great virtual event speaker to tie the whole event together and keep people entertained!
Bonus: Humor In The Workplace And Its Essential Benefits
#3. Have A Trivia Competiton
The best conference activities help spread new ideas and knowledge in a fun and interactive environment. However, keeping people entertained only works when the activities are engaging and enjoyable.
An activity you can find all of these aspects is trivia. Trivia can be a great way to add fun, friendly competition to any event while keeping the mood light. It’s interactive and lets people learn new things in the process.
It sounds like a win-win for everyone!
Trivia can usually be pretty straightforward, but you should adjust it so that it’s perfect for your audience members. Here are a few things you should remember while planning conference trivia.
Decide on the format of the trivia competition, such as multiple choice questions or open-ended questions. Consider using a mix of topics that are relevant to the conference theme and that will appeal to a wide range of attendees.
Establish the rules of the trivia competition, such as how many rounds there will be, how long each round will last, and how points will be awarded. Don’t forget to also decide on what prizes will be awarded to the winning team!
To make your conference trivia a success, use an online trivia platform. That way, all guests can feel included!
Remember to keep the competition light-hearted and fun. The goal is to build relationships and encourage networking among attendees while also providing a break from the conference agenda.
#4. World Café Group Discussions
Bonus if you give everyone some coffee for this activity.
For this activity, start by dividing everyone into small groups. Then, with different group tables set up, put one group at each table.
Start by asking a question. Then, each group will have 15 to 20 minutes to discuss the question.
At the end of each question round, all the attendees will move to another table. However, one person will stay behind. They’ll be waiting there to welcome the next group.
This activity can take as little as two rounds. Then, in the end, bring everyone together to discuss what they learned.
#5. Put On A Talent Show
A talent show is an excellent way for people to get truly involved while entertaining the crowd.
One of the best things about a diverse workplace is there are countless people with talents we would have never known. And this activity gives people a chance to show off their skills!
You can make it as in-depth as you want. However, if you want participants to come prepared, make sure you let them know beforehand. Maybe someone will bring their guitar!
As the speaker, you’ll likely be the presenter that welcomes each person to the stage.
Ensure you get plenty of acts to show up, and you can even have people vote on their favorite at the end. Give the winner a prize!
#6. Human Spectrogram
This word sounds a little complex, but this activity is very simple and easy to enjoy.
Start by having all attendees stand up. Then, you’ll ask questions. Based on their response, attendees will go to an area of the room that corresponds with their answers.
Here are some questions to give you some ideas. Of course, you can add any questions you want!
- Would you rather sing in front of your coworkers or dance?
- What was your least favorite class in high school?
- Would you rather take your child to work or your pet?
- Would you rather steal someone’s lunch or have your lunch stolen?
#7. Show And Tell
Remember in elementary school when you’d bring your favorite item to class and tell everyone about it? Let’s take this idea but make it a bit more exciting!
People can bring forth their favorite idea, memory, or concept that has helped them at work. This allows people to share things that have helped them (and might help others too.)
It’s a fun and interactive way to introduce new ideas to a group.
Keep Reading: What Is A Conference Producer?
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.