What if you combine them both: can you put an icebreaker on the name tag?
I’ll show you how I’ve seen name tag icebreakers done well, what it looks like, and examples of exactly which icebreakers to use.
Example at Central Park
A Young Patrons program hosted an event for the Central Park Conservancy where they used name tags in a special way.
They asked everyone to write their favorite Netflix show on a name tag.
This served as an icebreaker to talk to new people.
I’m really passionate about Young Patrons programs at cultural orgs. These are typically special membership tiers with fancy perks for people under the age of 40. I love them so much that I once hosted a party for organizers of these groups in NYC.
Name tag icebreaker photos
At this party, people wrote down their favorite Netflix shows on their name tags.
Like my friend Claire, who wrote down “The Good Place” on her name tag:
Icebreaker questions for name tags
To pick a good icebreaker question to be written on the name tag, you need to keep these things in mind:
(1) Make it easy
Make it easy, so that people can quickly write it down.
Guests shouldn’t have to think too long about their answer.
(2) Make it short
The answer should be short and concise. There isn’t a lot of space to write on most name tags. And you want it to be easy and fast for someone to read.
(3) Keep it fun
Nothing too serious! Keep it fun and lighthearted. These are meant to be conversational starters, or launching points, to help people make small talk.
Good examples of name tag icebreakers
- What’s one of your favorite TV shows?
- What’s one of your favorite things to eat for breakfast?
- What is a good book you’ve read recently?
- What is a charity or non-profit organization you like?
Bad examples of name tag icebreakers
- What is the best single piece of advice for a new college graduate? (too hard)
- What are the Top 3 things you’re most excited about? (too long)
- What’s one of the WORST first dates you went on? (not fun)
Feedback from use
My friend Ciaran took my advice to use icebreakers on name tags at one of his company mixers.
I encouraged him to keep it simple, and just use the “What’s one of your favorite TV shows?” example.
Here’s what he told me about how it went:
“Thanks again Nick for your advice and council here. We just finished our event and it was a ROUSING success. People loved the name tags and the inclusion of an incredibly simple prompt (favorite TV show) really helped people have something quick and simple to connect on.”– Ciaran Rogers, Head of Growth, Insurate
Adding an icebreaker to your name tags at an event can be an easy way to make small talk.
It helps your guests break out of the “So what do you do?” style conversations.
Remember to do these three things when picking an icebreaker that people will write on their name badge:
- Make it easy,
- Make it short, and
- Keep it fun.
Have you done this at a party or event or a work function?
Send me an email and tell me how it went. For bonus points, include some photos so I can update this article.