The idea is that you preprint coffee cups with “curated” topics that you believe the attendees want to talk about. In this case, the “vanilla” topics were: “Artificial Intelligence,” “Marketing & Sales,” “Innovation,” and “Strategy.” Then encourage them to network with others that have the same color/topic.
The actual directions state: “Pick up a cup based on what you would like to discuss most.” Then, in smaller print: “This will help everyone to network with like-minded people.” (Note: I’m not a big fan of the term “like-minded” for these directions as the most stimulating conversations are with people who do not have the same perspective!)
Which got me thinking about other ways to use coffee cups to encourage networking and team-building:
- Preprint coffee cups with “curated” topics that the meeting organizer believes the attendees want to talk about AND leave a “blank” cup for people to write in a topic. Encourage them to network with others that have the same color/topic.
- Leave the white paper coffee cups “blank” and encourage them to write a topic they want to talk about with a black permanent marker. The directions can read, “The blank ones are for the participants who want to think outside the box (cup)!” (This is similar to “Affinity Nametag” but using coffee cups rather than nametags.)
- Rather than using blank paper coffee cups, use “Peel and Scratch” plastic cups that allow the participants to use a fingernail to write in their topic.
- Don’t have any chalkboard cups? Use a nametag and affix it to the cup OR just use nametags!
- Provide a “starter question” for the attendees to write a one/two-word answer on their cup. Ask something simple like your favorite movie, favorite book, favorite animal (people love to talk about their dog or cat!), first concert, your superpower…the ideas are endless!
- Declare your willingness to interact with a specific coffee cup color: Red = I am observing/listening/thinking, so please don’t approach me for now… Yellow = I am open to conversation, and Green = I have something to say, please speak to me!
Just for fun, check out these hilarious memes that were posted in response to the Twitter posting!
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 27 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action. Her latest book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion was published in January 2021.