We’ve all had those awkward business meetings. You’ve traveled across the country for a sales pitches or networking gathering and sit in a large room with a dozen other unfamiliar faces. Especially if you’re the meeting organizer, initiating some icebreakers to relieve the anxiety can be the difference in producing a successful trip.
To break the ice at a sales pitch or networking meeting, bits of humor and positive interaction go a long way. The trick to effective icebreakers is to engage the audience in their own experiences. Many memorable experiences tend to have occurred when traveling–some of which might be poignant and others that might be quite humorous.
Below are some travel related icebreakers suitable smaller meetings with 4-8 people or larger gatherings with a banquet-style arrangement where groups of 6-8 people are present at each table.
- The Coin Icebreaker – Before entering your travel business meeting, collect one coin that will be distributed to each participant from a potluck draw. Make sure the coins have different dates and were minted in years when your guests were able to travel. Let each guest draw a coin from a jar and then describe their most memorable vacation, trip or travel experience in the year the coin was minted. Be prepared for a wide range of responses. This icebreaker will not only get your group interacting amongst themselves but will also position you favorably for your presentation.
- Favorite Restaurant Icebreaker – Ask each meeting attendee to describe their most memorable restaurant experience while traveling. These could range from unexpected culinary experiences to some pretty wild wait staff misunderstandings. If your travel meeting attendees have enjoyed international fare, this icebreaker could reveal some pretty funny stories.
- 60-Second Travel Tips – Ask each meeting attendee to present their favorite travel tip in 60 seconds or less and tell the audience how this tip came to help them in the past. As the meeting host, have your own travel tip ready to share to get the ball rolling. Make sure every participant tells a quick story. Then, call for a vote to determine which tip and anecdote were best.
- Good Sport Icebreaker – Travel and sports are common interests that many people share. Ask the meeting participants to describe their favorite travel story that revolved around a sporting event. Set a two-minute maximum but try to ask a question that engages the entire group. Sometimes the best travel-related sport stories have little to do with the outcome of the game and are more focused on the travel experience.
- Describe This Country – Write the names of different countries on several small notes (one on each). Fold each note and drop them in a hat. Ask each meeting participant to choose one folded note and read the name of the country. Then, ask for their off-the-cuff reaction to the country they were presented, even if they have never been there.
- Pass the Note – This icebreaker is sure to engage everyone. Give each meeting attendee a piece of paper with a pen and ask them to write the names of three national or international cities they have personally visited. Each attendee should sign their list. Put the sheets back in the hat. Mix the sheets, then pull them from the hat and read the three cities. Ask the audience to guess whose sheet you just read. After their guesses are identified, ask the person who submitted the list to stand. If you can encourage each participant to identify their favorite city of the three, you are on your way to a great travel business meeting.
Remember that the purpose of meeting icebreakers is to get everyone in the room interacting. Once you’ve done this, the tension in the room will evaporate immediately and your audience will be surprisingly receptive to your presentation.