5 Ways Name Badges Can Get People Interacting

At TEDActive in Palm Springs, buttons with blank fields labeled 'Talk to Me About ... ' invited guests to write a short list of topics they love or are knowledgeable about, to encourage meaningful mingling.
At TEDActive in Palm Springs, buttons with blank fields labeled "Talk to Me About ... " invited guests to write a short list of topics they love or are knowledgeable about, to encourage meaningful mingling.
Photo: Alesandra Dubin/BizBash

For many people, the idea of a name badge conjures up the stale "Hello, my name is ... " variety you might find at an awkward mixer or high-school reunion. But the badge is a valuable tool and, when used in fresh ways, it can get people interacting in effortless—and even fun—ways. Here are five ideas for clever executions from TED, the worldwide conference programs well-known for active, engaged attendees.

Further, we don't print titles or companies on name badges. We leave 40 characters instead for the answer to the question 'I'm chasing…' to get conversations started. - See more at: http://www.bizbash.com/think_like_ted_smart_meeting_strategies_from_tedx_planners/new-york/story/25411/#sthash.HrlUSc7Z.dpuf
Further, we don't print titles or companies on name badges. We leave 40 characters instead for the answer to the question 'I'm chasing…' to get conversations started. - See more at: http://www.bizbash.com/think_like_ted_smart_meeting_strategies_from_tedx_planners/new-york/story/25411/#sthash.HrlUSc7Z.dpuf
TEDActive means to connect attendees whenever possible—and oversize name badges made it easy to identify new folks. - See more at: http://www.bizbash.com/large-scale-name-badges/gallery/110076#sthash.T7l1I3yJ.dpuf

1. Omit titles and company names
Ramy Nassar, who plans the independent TED-style event TEDxWaterloo in Canada, says, "We don't print titles or companies on name badges," in an effort to associate people more with what they love to do, aspire to do, or excel at, than what they do for a living.

2. Move beyond the work realm
Nassar says he leaves just 40 characters on name badges for attendees to finish the phrase "I'm chasing … ," which gets conversations started among attendees on a deeper level. 

3. Let guests choose how to identify themselves
At TEDActive in Palm Springs, buttons with blank fields labeled "Talk to Me About ... " invited guests to write a short list of topics they love or are knowledgeable about, to encourage meaningful mingling. They could attach the buttons to their existing badges.

4. Incorporate a theme
Patricia Zougheib, who plans TEDxBeirut in Lebanon, used the theme "all we need is … " to get people talking. "Attendees' thoughts on the theme appeared on their badges, and then we weaved them into foldouts that they could fill out and we displayed on a wall at the event. There was also a game to find the other people who chose their same word or idea, and they won prizes from our partners [for doing so]," she says.

5. Make them huge
TEDActive intends to connect attendees whenever possible—and oversize name badges made it easy to identify new folks. Attendees' could casually address each other by name without squinting—or staring inappropriately—making for a collegial, friendly atmosphere.

Further, we don't print titles or companies on name badges. We leave 40 characters instead for the answer to the question 'I'm chasing…' to get conversations started. - See more at: http://www.bizbash.com/think_like_ted_smart_meeting_strategies_from_tedx_planners/new-york/story/25411/#sthash.HrlUSc7Z.dpuf
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