Your Favorites: an Ice Breaker to Use With Any Topic
Versatile Ice Breaker Works in Any Setting With Groups of People
From trees to dogs to vacation spots, people have favorites. The purpose of this icebreaker is to quickly warm up your group with fun and laughter. This icebreaker is a winner because it makes everyone right.
Every employee has favorites, and so the topic is low stress for your attendees. These icebreakers are slightly personal without being too personal. They allow the attendees to share something about themselves comfortably without becoming too personal or baring their souls.
In these icebreakers, the employee retains control of what he or she wants to share with their small group. Whenever your participants feel safe, icebreakers really do provide the interaction that you seek for your participants.
(The safe feelings of your participants are a key goal of mine. In the 1970s and even into the 1980s, participants never knew what would happen to them during a team building or training session. The facilitators and leaders brought icebreakers and warm up exercises during which people had to touch each other.
They created icebreakers that intruded into the participants' backgrounds and beliefs systems - more than they would ever want to share with casual acquaintances. As a result, well into the 1990s and beyond, when I'd tell a group that we would start with an icebreaker, I received a guarded response.
Once I assured them that no one would have to touch another participant, then, their sigh of relief was palpable because of their long memories.)
If you select the topic of the favorites carefully, the discussion can segue your group into the day's topic. Or, you can decide that the icebreaker is just for fun. It can provide a quick way to warm up and jump-start conversations among the attendees in a meeting or training class.
This icebreaker is easy to customize to the purpose and outcomes you are trying to accomplish with your group. This team building icebreaker is fast, easy, and fun.
Like the Five of Anything Ice Breaker, you can customize this favorites icebreaker to your group's needs. It’s a good icebreaker for a meeting, too, because it takes so little time. Your participants will quickly feel comfortable talking with their table mates.
Steps in the Identify Favorites Ice Breaker
- Divide the meeting participants into groups of four or five people by having them number off. (You do this because people generally begin a meeting by sitting with the people that they already know best - even when you ask them to sit with people they don't work with every day.)
- Tell the newly formed groups that their assignment is to identify and share their favorite (insert object). I have used favorite trees, actors, ice cream, vacation destination, animal, book, movie, city in the U.S, city in the world, and favorite dinner with success with groups.
If your goal is to stay more work focused, you can ask participants to identify their favorite work activity, their favorite spot to sit in the company, something that they get to do every day that they love, or their favorite, most important, current goal. Use your imagination and be creative. Ideas for the identification of favorites will come to you.
- The second part of the icebreaker assignment is to share why the selected item is their personal favorite.
- Debrief the activity in the large group by asking each individual to share their favorite, but not why with the larger group. This moves quickly. It also generates laughter as participants get to hear what every other attendee selected.
- As a final step, ask participants to share with the larger group what they learned about their coworkers during the small group discussion. Ask what insights they obtained about their small group members.
This team building icebreaker takes 10 – 15 minutes, depending on the number of groups you have.