The Participant Bingo Icebreaker Activity is active and engaging for a medium sized group of participants. It requires some advanced preparation, but little facilitation on the day.
Summary by The World of Work Project
The Participant Bingo Icebreaker Activity
This activity is an icebreaker which involves individuals trying to match interesting facts to individuals. It works well with medium sized teams, usually between about 20 and 40.
This activity requires a bit of advanced information gathering as well as some printing. You should start this process a week or two before your event to ensure you have time to gather all the information you need.
1 – Ask each participant who will be attending your meeting / event to submit an interesting or unique fact about themselves.
2 – Once you’ve received all your facts, create a bingo form with each fact (without a name) taking the place of the numbers on a conventional bingo grid.
3 – Create an “answer sheet” so that you know which participant is matched to which interesting fact.
4 – Print enough copies of the bingo form so that each of your participants can have a copy.
When your event starts, hand each participant one of these Bingo forms and ensure they have a pen.
Let them know that they’ll have 10-15 minutes to circulate the room speaking to each other and trying to find out the name of the person who submitted each of the interesting facts. When they match a person to a fact they should write the person’s name down on their bingo form.
The first person to have written a name against each of the facts on their sheet shouts “bingo”. They are deemed the winner of the participant bingo icebreaker activity. The facilitator then reveals the answers and hands out a small prize to the winner.
Team building and ice-breaking activities are very important. They help build trust in teams and help progress team maturity. They can also reduce the risks of social threat and improve interpersonal awareness.
Being able to deliver them is a helpful facilitation and meeting skill. A few specific activities we’ve written about include: Weekend Chairs, Birthday Ordering, Vegetable Introductions, Two Truths and a Lie, and the Questions Cocktail Party.
Laughter and play are also great ways to help build a team. You can learn more about how playfulness helps teams in our podcast on the subject:
The World of Work Project View
The Participant Bingo Icebreaker Activity takes a little bit of preparation, but it’s easy to deliver and is pretty good at getting people to speak to each other. The actual ice-breaking activity and conversations are not too stressful for those taking part either.
While the activity doesn’t always lead to great conversations, it does achieve the goal of getting people circulating and speaking to each other, which is sometimes the most important thing.
Some people struggle to find “interesting facts” about themselves, so you may wish to change the language to something a bit less intimidating. You can instead ask for “unique facts”, or even substitute for things like “favorite holiday destination”. The main point is that each person submits a piece of information that can be used on the bingo form.
Overall we think this is a useful activity to know about. It’s simple, easy to deliver and is reasonably effective.