Many business meetings kick off with an ice breaker.... but nobody signs up to attend a conference to play silly games, pull off squares of toilet paper, and share their biggest fear. Jumping right in with some gimmick to break the ice can freeze your introverted attendees and leave them hiding at every break.
Creating a conference culture that promotes networking is paramount to the success of a meeting, but this is not accomplished by leading with exercises that nobody wants to do anyway. My "Conference Catalyst" program is both informative and interactive, but I never instigate the socialization parts right out of the gate. People need to feel comfortable with the venue, the presenter, the community and themselves before they are willing to give 100%.
Too many people who try to lead networking ice-breakers front load these activities into their presentations. This causes the audience hold back in their participation and can kill the mood of the conference networking. You have to wait until the MC or presentation leader has earned the right from the audience to ease people out of their comfort zones.
When ice breakers are done too early people are less likely to open their minds and hearts to the message encouraging them to make meaningful connections at the conference. They are viewed as "hokey" and "forced", and while most people will go through the motions, they are not fully engaged.
Waiting to break the ice will allow people to thaw (I could not resist).
****For a copy of my free eight page special report on creating an atmosphere for better networking at conferences email me at thom (at) thomsinger.com.
Have A Great Day.