Karaoke: you love it or you hate it. Or maybe you just don’t care. Some people really enjoy being the center of attention. Some people can actually sing. And others go along to sing group songs because it’s what everyone else is doing.
Why is karaoke so popular? Because it builds a sense of community through shared experience, based in part on a common knowledge (popular songs). You may not be close to every person you’ve ever sung a karaoke song with (or to), but sharing that experience made it easier for your to connect with that person the next time you encountered them (assuming, of course, you could remember your shared experience–or that nothing untoward happened!). The increased popularity of smaller “private” karaoke rooms (rather than open free-for-alls) emphasizes that people karaoke to connect with their friends, not show off their skills.
In this way, karaoke mirrors some people’s motivation for attending conferences and events–to connect. How (if at all) might you be able to take advantage of this at conferences and events that you may be plannning?
Other than the obvious inclusion of a karaoke stage (which may not be the most cost effective or appropriate endeavor) or arrangement of a karaoke outing (which may be best left to attendees to handle themselves), there are ways to incorporate the teamwork inherent in karaoke group songs as well as the bonding involved in shared musical knowledge into your event.
Consider arranging seating charts by having people pick their favorite song from a list, or including favorite song or artist information on name badges. This gives people an instant conversation starter that in many cases is more memorable than “where do you work?” or “what do you do?” It may not be immediately relevant to the conference topic at hand, but provides a base for people to build on.
Asking small groups to perform a task together–not necessarily singing a song, but perhaps writing out the lyrics to a popular song or inventing a jingle for an imagined product–is somewhat of a silly icebreaker, but can be very effective in creating bonds of teamwork. People may not remember the conference where they went and sat and listened to speeches, but they may remember the one where they came up with a great promotional tune for pitching the Netflix of Instagram or whatever the latest hot startup idea was at the time.
Have you tried a musical- or karaoke-inspired activity at an event? How did it turn out for you?
Image of Korean karaoke remote by used with Creative Commons license