A Questions Cocktail Party Icebreaker Activity works for medium to large groups. It involves sharing a selection of questions and having your participants speed network while discussing them. At the end of the session, the facilitator asks each participant to share a few thoughts on one of the questions.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Questions Cocktail Party

Women at a cocktail party. This is not The Questions Cocktail Party Icebreaker Activity
This Questions Cocktail Party Icebreaker looks nothing like this.

This icebreaker activity is basically speed networking. In it, participants discuss a set of questions that are aligned to the overall theme of a day or an event.

It’s a bit more serious than some other ice-breaking activities. It works well in medium or large sized groups who are focused on specific topics.

Preparation

Before the session, the facilitator thinks of four questions that are relevant for the overall theme of the day or the event, or which align to the overall purpose of the day. For example, if the purpose of an event is to build pride in an organizations, one of the questions might be: “What are you most proud of having achieved at work over the last year?”. The four questions should be divided into two sets of two questions.

To prepare for the ice-breaking session itself, the facilitator should write the questions on flip-chart paper or PowerPoint slides or whatever medium is best for the day, so that they can be shared with the participants.

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The Activity

When the session starts, the facilitator asks the participants to stand up and find a partner. Once everyone has found a partner, the facilitator reveals the first pair of questions and asks the participants to discuss in pairs for 5 minutes.

At the end of the 5 minute discussion, the facilitator asks the participants to rotate and find a new partner. The facilitator then reveals the next set of questions and asks the pairs to discuss these for a further five minutes.

Depending on the size of the group, the facilitator may wish to ask the participants to share some of their thoughts and discussions after each 5 minute period. This will help further break the ice and give the participants a chance to speak in front of the wider group.

people walking around with coffee, which is what The Questions Cocktail Party Icebreaker Activity looks like
It probably looks quite like this, though most likely inside…

Depending on your objectives, group size and facilitation style, you can always ask the pairs to discuss one question at a time, perhaps for a shorter period of time, ask the participants to discuss in small groups or change the number of questions.

Learning More

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, and Two Truths and a Lie.

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 Questions Cocktail Party Icebreaker Activity is fairly helpful for themed events as it can help set a tone for a day and get people thinking while ice-breaking. Also to its advantage is the fact that it’s easy to do and fairly easy to prepare for as well.

As with all activities of this nature, you may need to tailor the activity and the questions to the participants in the room.

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This post is based on general experience and there are no specific references for it.

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