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Best of the Best

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Best of the Best
By Jon Zajac

What is Best of the Best?

As an experienced facilitator, I find the Best of the Best icebreaker activity to be an excellent way to foster connections and create a positive atmosphere in various group settings. The purpose of this engaging exercise is to encourage participants to share their personal preferences or experiences in a non-threatening manner, focusing on fun categories like best vacation spot, favorite food cuisine, or top movie. By actively listening to each other’s stories and discovering shared interests, the activity creates an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and heard.

During the Best of the Best icebreaker, participants receive a card with a category prompt, think of their personal “best” response, and then share it with the group in a round-robin format. Categories range from popular choices like best book or favorite hobby to more unique options to cater to diverse interests. This structure ensures that everyone has an opportunity to speak and contribute to the conversation while facilitating memorable connections among participants.

Incorporating this icebreaker into your event demonstrates a genuine interest in getting to know the individuals involved, allowing them to form bonds based on commonalities and mutual respect. By encouraging elaboration and personal stories, you create an engaging space where attendees feel comfortable expressing themselves, leading to increased collaboration and open communication throughout the session or meeting.

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Rules for Best of the Best

  1. Each participant will receive a card with a category prompt or write down a category of their choice.
  2. Participants think of the “best” response they have for that category - their personal “best of the best.”
  3. When called upon, each person will first reveal their category, then share their best of the best along with a brief explanation or a fun fact related to their choice.
  4. Use a round-robin approach, starting with the person to your left, to ensure everyone has a turn.
  5. Encourage elaboration and ask for anecdotes or reasons behind each person’s choice to foster deeper connection and entertained engagement.
  6. Facilitate the session to encourage concise stories and ensure everyone adheres to a time limit (1-2 minutes per person) while sharing.
  7. After everyone has shared their “best of the best,” open the floor for any reflections, comments, or expressions of shared interests noted during the round-robin.
  8. Encourage participants to further discuss any shared interests discovered during the sharing period to continue building connections as the event proceeds.

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Materials needed for Best of the Best

  • Best of the Best templates or cards: These can be pre-made with predefined categories or left blank for participants to create their own prompts.
  • Writing tools - pens or markers: Participants will use these to write down their category and “best of the best” answer on the cards.
  • A stopwatch or timer: This tool will help keep sharing time consistent and ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to participate.

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Setting up for Best of the Best

To set up for the Best of the Best icebreaker activity, you need to find a suitable space that can comfortably accommodate your group. The room should be arranged in a way that encourages interaction and open dialogue. You can do this by setting chairs in a circle or semi-circle formation. This configuration allows each participant to see and hear every other person clearly during the sharing session.

Once you have the physical space ready, spend some time preparing your “Best of the Best” cards or templates. Make sure they include diverse categories that cater to various interests. Having an array of choices increases the likelihood of participants connecting with at least one category. Pre-defined prompts save time but consider offering blank cards for those who want to create their unique categories.

Lastly, ensure you have a reliable timing device like a stopwatch to help maintain order during the sharing round-robin and keep conversations concise. This step is crucial in ensuring everyone has an opportunity to share within the allotted time frame while still leaving room for meaningful engagement.

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How to play Best of the Best

  1. Prepare the “Best of the Best” Cards: Create cards with various categories like best vacation spot, food cuisine, movie, book, etc. Make sure to have diverse options to cater to different interests. Alternatively, provide blank cards for participants to write their category prompts.

  2. Set Up a Comfortable Space: Arrange chairs in a circle or semi-circle to facilitate easy viewing of each participant. This setup encourages open dialogue and active engagement.

  3. Introduction and Explanation (5 minutes): Start by introducing yourself and explain the purpose of the game, outlining that this is an opportunity to learn fun facts about one another. Explain the rules:
    • Each participant will receive a card and select or write down a category prompt.
    • They will then think of their “best” response for that category.
    • When called upon, each person will share their category and best response along with an explanation or fun fact related to their choice.
  4. Distribution and Thinking Time (5-10 minutes): Hand out the cards to each participant along with writing tools. Give participants a few minutes to decide on their “Best of the Best” answer, emphasizing that their choice should be personally significant or relatable.

  5. Sharing in Round Robin (15-20 minutes): Proceeding clockwise, invite each person to share their category and best response, allowing for elaboration, anecdotes, or reasons behind their choice to foster deeper connections. Encourage concise stories and enforce a time limit if necessary.

  6. Reflection and Discussion (5-10 minutes): After everyone has shared, open the floor for reflections, comments, or expressions of shared interests noted during the round-robin. Encourage participants to discuss any surprising revelations or questions about someone’s best category.

  7. Wrap Up: Conclude the activity by expressing gratitude and highlighting a few memorable shares or common themes noticed. Reiterate how this exercise emphasizes similarities and differences within the group, serving to create an inclusive atmosphere. Encourage participants to further discuss shared interests discovered during the sharing period.

Remote Team Adaptation: For remote teams, use video calls with virtual “hand raises” and chat functionalities for engagement. Participants can share their “best of the best” in a digital format through screen sharing or text-based chats.

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Benefits of Best of the Best

  • Encourages active listening: By having each participant share their “best of the best” in turn, everyone is encouraged to listen attentively to understand their peers’ unique experiences, preferences, and stories.
  • Fosters a sense of belonging: This activity helps participants discover shared interests and connections, promoting inclusivity and making everyone feel more welcome in the group setting.
  • Promotes self-reflection and personal sharing: Choosing and sharing one’s “best” within a specific category encourages introspection and allows individuals to reflect on their experiences, values, and passions.
  • Enhances group engagement and interaction: The structured format of this icebreaker ensures everyone has an opportunity to contribute, fostering active participation and creating a lively atmosphere that sets the stage for further collaboration and communication.
  • Builds empathy and understanding: By sharing personal stories and experiences, participants can better understand their peers’ perspectives and backgrounds, leading to increased empathy and emotional intelligence within the group.
  • Reduces anxiety and tension: The non-threatening nature of discussing personal preferences in a fun and engaging way helps create a relaxed environment, making it easier for introverted or shy individuals to participate and form connections.
  • Establishes a strong foundation for team building: By breaking the ice effectively and creating an open and connected atmosphere, this activity lays the groundwork for more productive and enjoyable team-building activities and group sessions.

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Skills built with Best of the Best

  • Active Listening: By encouraging participants to engage with each other’s stories and ask follow-up questions, this icebreaker fosters active listening skills, which are essential for effective communication and collaboration in any setting.
  • Interpersonal Connection: I find that the Best of the Best icebreaker facilitates a sense of camaraderie among participants by allowing them to share personal experiences and preferences, thereby building interpersonal connections based on shared interests or unique perspectives.
  • Public Speaking: The structured sharing format of this icebreaker provides participants with an opportunity to practice their public speaking skills in a supportive environment, helping them grow more comfortable presenting ideas and engaging with groups.
  • Empathy and Understanding: As participants learn about one another’s preferences and experiences, they develop empathy and understanding, promoting an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels valued and respected.
  • Time Management: By enforcing a time limit for each share, the Best of the Best icebreaker encourages participants to be mindful of their speaking pace and concise in their storytelling, thereby building time management skills.
  • Creativity and Adaptability: With its flexible card format, this icebreaker allows participants to choose or create categories that resonate with them, showcasing their creativity and adaptability while ensuring broad engagement across diverse interests and backgrounds.

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Why I like Best of the Best

As someone who appreciates engaging activities that promote interaction and connection, I find the Best of the Best icebreaker to be an excellent choice for various group settings. There are several reasons why this icebreaker stands out to me:

  1. Personalization: The flexibility in category selection allows participants to share something genuinely meaningful or interesting to them, making the activity more engaging and memorable.

  2. Diversity: With a wide range of categories, there’s something for everyone, ensuring inclusivity and catering to different interests within the group.

  3. Connection building: By encouraging elaboration and anecdotes related to participants’ choices, this icebreaker fosters connections based on shared experiences or unique perspectives.

  4. Structured format: The round-robin sharing approach and time limit per person ensure everyone has a chance to participate while maintaining the session’s pace and focus.

  5. Easy adaptation: This icebreaker can be easily modified for remote teams, making it versatile for various environments.

Overall, I believe that the Best of the Best icebreaker is an effective and enjoyable way to break the ice among participants, encourage personal sharing, and build connections in groups.

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Tips for making Best of the Best more inclusive

  • Tip: Tailor the categories to your audience. Make sure they are relevant and interesting to the participants.
  • Tip: Encourage participants to bring their own category ideas. This can increase personal investment in the activity and make it more engaging.
  • Tip: Use a mix of serious and lighthearted categories. This will help people feel comfortable sharing both fun and meaningful experiences.
  • Tip: Create a safe space by emphasizing respect for all responses. Encourage participants to listen actively and respond supportively during the discussion.
  • Tip: If you notice that some participants are not engaging or participating, gently invite them to share their thoughts. Acknowledge their contributions and ensure they feel heard.
  • Tip: For remote teams, consider using an online randomizer tool to determine the order of sharing, making it fair and unbiased.
  • Tip: Be mindful of cultural differences and sensitivities when selecting categories. Make adjustments accordingly to ensure inclusivity for all participants.
  • Tip: When time is limited, consider breaking the group into smaller subgroups to allow more people to share their “best of the best” experiences.
  • Tip: Encourage follow-up questions during sharing and reflection time. This will help deepen connections between participants by exploring shared interests or discovering new ones.

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Reflection questions for Best of the Best

  1. What category did you choose for your “Best of the Best,” and why did you pick it? This question can help participants reflect on their personal experiences and what they value, allowing them to share insights about themselves with others.

  2. Did anyone else’s sharing inspire or surprise you? If so, how? By asking this question, facilitators can encourage the group to engage in active listening and think about connections between participants, fostering a sense of community within the group.

  3. What commonalities did you notice among participants’ responses? This reflection question promotes awareness and understanding of shared interests or values across the group, helping to strengthen interpersonal bonds.

  4. How did sharing your “Best of the Best” make you feel about being part of this group? This question enables participants to express their emotions related to the activity and recognize how icebreakers can contribute to building a supportive, welcoming atmosphere in the group setting.

  5. Were there any topics or categories that you wish had been included but weren’t? Why? Encouraging feedback on the exercise itself can help facilitators fine-tune and improve future icebreaker activities based on participants’ preferences and needs.

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About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

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