Icebreaker: If You Could Choose Just One, Which One Would You Choose?

Use This Easy-to-Design Icebreaker to Segue Attendees Into Your Topic

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Are you looking for a versatile icebreaker that you can use for almost any occasion? When you need a group of people to become comfortable with each other quickly use the “which one would you choose” icebreaker for great results.

Icebreakers can take a lot of time to develop, so using simple ones that do not require much preparation is a boon to most working professionals. These icebreakers can either segue the group into the topic of the meeting, training class, or team-building session, or you can select one that is purely for fun.

Like many of the icebreakers on The Balance Careers, this one has been used successfully in the field, so there is a good chance that your participants will enjoy sharing their choices.

The Which One Would You Choose Icebreaker Described

In these icebreakers, session participants are asked to select just one choice. Whether you are asking them what animal, what flower, historical figure, or food they would like to be if they could only choose just one, their answers tell the other attendees something about them as people. Their description of why they chose the one they shared tells participants even more.

To use this icebreaker as a doorway into a session or meeting about a particular topic, consider these examples.

  • For a session on team building, ask the participants to name an animal that works effectively in a team. Which one would you choose and why? (Consider ideas such as wolves that hunt in packs, lions that hunt in packs, and elephants that form protective circles to protect their young.)
  • For a meeting on strategic planning, ask your attendees which historical figure they would select, if they could choose just one, who was a master in the art of planning. (Consider possibilities such as Henry Ford and the assembly line, Bill Gates for the personal computer and philanthropy, or Netflix co-founder/co-CEO Reed Hastings for reshaping digital entertainment.) 
  • When you meet to talk about managing change, ask your attendees to pick one momentous event that changed their life. Ask them why they picked that particular event. (Consider that your group may choose sensitive happenings such as the birth of a child or the economic crash of 2008.)

The Which One Would You Choose Icebreaker—for Simple Fun

Icebreakers don’t always need to focus on the topic of the meeting. You can use this simple icebreaker just for fun. As mentioned in the overall description of the icebreaker, you can ask your participants to choose just one of almost anything. These are examples from participant sessions.

If you could be just one animal, what animal would you choose? Responses have included:

  • An otter, because they swim and play all day for a truly pampered life. They slide down rocks and are cheerful, playful, and fun-loving creatures.
  • A dog, because they are loyal, trusting, and communicate well with barking and body language. They provide companionship, love, and want constant attention.

If you could choose to be just one historical figure, which figure would you choose? (You would, of course, remind people to stay away from politics, religion, and any other topic that may offend another employee.) Responses have included:

  • Thomas Edison, because he was so intellectually special and his inventions were among the finest because of their positive effect on the world
  • William Shakespeare, because the poet and playwright is considered by many to be the greatest writer in the English language

With these examples in mind, see how easy it is to choose a topic that will engage and warm up your group? You not only have the added bonus of obtaining insight into what makes your team members happy, but you learn a little about what they value and believe in.

Steps-by-Step Instructions for the Which One Would You Choose Icebreaker

  1. As the facilitator, you can choose any topic you believe your group would enjoy. Alternatively, you can ask your participants to take turns selecting an icebreaker for your weekly staff meeting.
  2. Ask your participants, if they could choose just one of something, which one would they choose? Let them know that after making their choice, they are expected to share what it is and why they chose it with the group.
  3. Give your attendees 5-10 minutes to think carefully and thoughtfully about their choice and suggest to them that they jot down notes. (Otherwise, depending on the size of the meeting group, they may forget their choice and reasons before it’s their turn to speak.)
  4. Ask for a volunteer to share their choice and why to get the conversation started. From this point, you can go in order around the room with each employee sharing in turn. In a smaller group, you can just keep asking for volunteers until every person has had a chance to share.
  5. When the sharing is complete, ask people if they have questions and/or comments. You will generally get a few. Then, move into the agenda for your meeting. You will find that the warmup gave you a great start.

The Bottom Line

Whether fun or more serious, “which one would you choose” icebreakers are an excellent way to start out a meeting with colleagues who are somewhat familiar with each other. As such, they provide more insight into what people enjoy and value. They can also break the ice comfortably with a group of strangers who are asked a simple question, and whose responses might just generate laughter and warmth and alleviate any awkwardness in the room.