join our list


How to Break the Ice at a Conference. Quickly.


Indra Gardiner Bowers


June 27, 2013



[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"198","attributes":{"class":"media-image aligncenter wp-image-20766","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"516","height":"387","alt":"Conference Ice Breaker"}}]]
At this year's annual PRSA Counselors Academy Spring Conference, we had a lot of new attendees. Sometimes it takes a while for newbies to get engaged with the group and they can miss out on some good stuff. One of the genius moves by our conference chair, Dana Hughens, was insisting that we HAD to have the folks from Banding People Together lead our opening night event. She was right.

Four talented musicians began by talking about collaboration and what it takes to establish healthy collaborative work environments. Through music and songwriting, this group was able to break the ice, build a team (often where none existed at all) and ensure everyone had a good time.

So we broke up into four groups and each wrote a song. I'm not going to pretend that at times the process wasn't painful. Like most collaborations, getting consensus just isn't always easy. I tried to ply the group with alcohol, which seemed to help a little. But in the end what really worked was our united competitive spirit (we didn't want the other teams to win), the desire to complete the project, and the good natured spirit of our leader, the founder of Banding People Together, Alan Schaefer. A good attitude is infectious. And having to write a song together really broke the ice. Fast. Those newbies were part of the group in no time.

There was one thing Alan talked about that really struck me about the keys to collaboration. He called it "Killing Your Darlings." You know how you can get emotionally attached to your idea(s) and forget what the goal is in the process? You know how when someone clings to their position it can hinder the creative/collaborative process? Kill your darlings and let the process develop to its full potential. That one's a keeper.

Oh, our team didn't win, but we had so much fun presenting our song that it didn't matter.


No Avatar
Jeff Blum (not verified) on Thu, 2013-06-27 12:01
Love it! Esp. "Killing Your Darlings"

No Avatar
Abbie S. Fink (not verified) on Thu, 2013-06-27 15:43
It was a great way to immediately connect with conference attendees. Lots of A-personalities in our midst, but in the end, we can all point to a great effort.

No Avatar
Michael Gallagher (not verified) on Fri, 2013-06-28 08:48
Love your writing —loved listening to you (a few years ago at TAAN Conference (Scottsdale?) and love your partner. Keep them all.

No Avatar
Indra Gardiner ... on Fri, 2013-06-28 11:01
So true Abbie, it was all those A-type personalities! We were ALL right! Thank you Jeff and Michael. Oh, and Michael, I will take your advice...

Add new comment