A great activity for everyone

Forced Choice

Boost Team Bonding with Fast-paced Fun: Introducing Forced Choice, the Ultimate Team-building Game!

Forced Choice
By Jon Zajac

What is Forced Choice?

The Forced Choice icebreaker is a fun and engaging activity designed to encourage interaction and dialogue among participants. Its purpose is to help individuals learn about each other’s preferences and personalities in a light-hearted manner, breaking down barriers and creating a relaxed atmosphere. This icebreaker involves presenting participants with a series of this-or-that style prompts, such as “Cats or Dogs?” or “Chocolate or Vanilla?”, and asking them to indicate their preference. Depending on the setting, participants can demonstrate their choice by moving to different areas of the room, raising their hands, or using other visual cues. This process not only reveals personal insights about the participants but also generates immediate engagement and lively discussions. The Forced Choice icebreaker is an effective tool for classrooms, workplace meetings, team-building sessions, and workshops, making it a versatile and valuable addition to any facilitator’s toolkit.

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Rules for Forced Choice

  1. The facilitator will present a series of this-or-that style prompts.
  2. Participants must quickly decide which option they prefer.
  3. Upon hearing a prompt, participants are to move to a side of the room, raise a hand, stand up, or use another predetermined signal based on their choice.
  4. A brief discussion may follow each choice, allowing one or two participants to explain their decision.
  5. After all prompts have been presented, an optional in-depth group discussion can be held where participants share why they made certain choices and any related stories.
  6. The facilitator should highlight commonalities or surprising revelations that arose during the activity to encourage further interaction.
  7. Participants are encouraged to actively listen and respect others’ preferences during the icebreaker.
  8. Discussion time must be managed to maintain an energetic pace while allowing for some interaction after each choice.

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Materials needed for Forced Choice

  • List of prompts: A set of this-or-that style questions that are relatable to your audience and cover a wide range of topics. These prompts should be prepared in advance and aim to avoid sensitive or polarizing issues.

  • Adequate space (optional): If you plan on having participants move around the room based on their choices, ensure there is enough space for people to comfortably gather on either side of the room. If space is limited, consider alternative signals such as raising a hand or standing up.

  • Timer (optional): While not strictly necessary, having a timer can help you keep track of the pace and ensure that the activity moves along at an engaging yet comfortable speed. This can be a physical timer, a stopwatch on your phone, or even just a mental note of the time.

  • Pen and paper (optional): If you’d like to jot down any particularly interesting insights, commonalities, or surprising revelations that come up during the activity, having pen and paper on hand can be helpful. This is especially useful if you plan on reflecting on the activity at its conclusion or using the insights gathered for future discussions.

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Setting up for Forced Choice

To set up for the Forced Choice icebreaker activity, follow this detailed preparation guide:

  1. Preparation:
    • Formulate a diverse list of this-or-that style prompts tailored to your audience. Ensure that these prompts are relatable and cover a wide range of topics. Make sure they are not divisive or sensitive in nature. Here’s a sample list:
      • Coffee or Tea?
      • Beach or Mountains?
      • Summer or Winter?
      • Music or Podcasts?
      • Pizza or Burgers?
      • Reading or Writing?
      • Friends or Family?
      • Indoors or Outdoors?
      • Comedy or Drama?
      • Saving or Spending?
    • Determine the size of your group and decide whether to conduct this activity as a collective group, in smaller groups, or in pairs for more intimate discussions.
  2. Logistics:
    • Arrange the room so there is enough space for participants to move around comfortably. This is essential if you plan on having participants physically move to different sides of the room based on their choices.
    • If the room setup does not allow for movement, consider alternatives like raising hands or standing up as signals for their preferences. Ensure that all participants can clearly see these signals.

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How to play Forced Choice

  1. Formulate a list of prompts: Prepare a diverse set of this-or-that style questions that are relatable to your audience and cover a range of topics. Make sure to avoid sensitive or polarizing subjects.

  2. Determine logistics: Assess the space available in your venue and decide whether participants will move around or use visual signals. Adjust accordingly.

  3. Introduce the activity: Explain the purpose, process, and expectations of the Forced Choice icebreaker to set the stage for active participation.

  4. Provide instructions: Inform participants that they must quickly choose between two options when presented with each prompt, signaling their preference through movement or visual cues.

  5. Begin execution: Read out the prepared list of prompts, allowing time for participants to indicate their choices and engage in brief discussions when appropriate.

  6. Facilitate a follow-up discussion (optional): Encourage deeper interaction by asking participants to share their reasons for making certain choices, tell related stories, or reflect on any challenging prompts. Highlight commonalities and surprising revelations.

  7. Wrap up the activity: Thank everyone for participating, briefly summarize interesting patterns or outcomes, and transition smoothly into the next segment of your meeting, workshop, or team-building session.

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Benefits of Forced Choice

  • Breaks the ice effectively: The Forced Choice icebreaker is designed to initiate conversations and help participants engage with each other in a simple yet fun way, making it easier for them to interact throughout the event or session.
  • Encourages self-expression: By asking participants to choose between relatable options, the activity allows them to express their preferences and personalities, giving others a glimpse into their likes, dislikes, and interests.
  • Fosters a relaxed atmosphere: The lighthearted nature of Forced Choice helps create a comfortable environment where people can share their thoughts without fear of judgment, reducing anxiety and encouraging open communication.
  • Promotes active listening and empathy: When participants explain their choices, others are prompted to listen actively and empathize with their peers, building connections and understanding among the group members.
  • Reveals commonalities and differences: The activity highlights shared preferences and diverse viewpoints, enabling participants to discover connections they might not have otherwise recognized and appreciate the unique qualities of each individual.
  • Enhances team dynamics: In a workplace setting, Forced Choice can improve team cohesion by encouraging employees to learn about one another’s interests and values, leading to stronger working relationships and increased collaboration.
  • Facilitates discussion and interaction: By prompting participants to share their reasons for choosing certain options, the activity fosters engaging conversations that can lead to deeper understanding and meaningful exchanges.
  • Adaptable for various settings and group sizes: Forced Choice can be easily customized to suit different contexts and audience sizes, making it a versatile icebreaker option for classrooms, workshops, team-building sessions, and more.

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Skills built with Forced Choice

  • Communication skills: By articulating their preferences and explaining the reasons behind their choices, participants improve their ability to express themselves clearly and effectively.
  • Active listening: To understand the perspectives of others, participants must actively listen to the explanations of their peers, fostering a collaborative environment where everyone feels heard and valued.
  • Decision-making: The activity requires making quick decisions based on personal preferences, which can help sharpen decision-making skills and build confidence in one’s ability to make choices.
  • Community building: By sharing personal stories and insights related to their preferences, participants establish commonalities and connections, strengthening the bonds within a group or team.
  • Openness to diversity: The wide range of prompts encourages individuals to consider different aspects of their identities and preferences, promoting an appreciation for diverse perspectives and experiences.
  • Critical thinking: Some prompts may require more thoughtful consideration, allowing participants to exercise their critical thinking skills as they evaluate the pros and cons of each option.
  • Self-awareness: By reflecting on their own choices and listening to the preferences of others, participants gain a better understanding of their own values, beliefs, and personalities.
  • Conflict resolution: Although the prompts are designed to be non-polarizing, there might be some disagreements or differing opinions. Learning how to navigate these small conflicts can help build skills for resolving larger disputes in the future.
  • Emotional intelligence: Understanding and respecting the emotions and preferences of others is an essential aspect of emotional intelligence, which is fostered through engaging in activities like Forced Choice.

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Why I like Forced Choice

I appreciate the Forced Choice icebreaker for its simplicity and effectiveness in fostering connections among participants. The structure of choosing between two relatable options prompts introspection while also revealing personal insights, creating a dynamic and engaging atmosphere. I find that this activity reduces barriers to participation by making the initial interaction fun and low-stress, which helps participants feel more comfortable and open to further conversation.

One aspect I enjoy about Forced Choice is its versatility in various settings, from classrooms to workshops and team-building sessions. The adaptable format allows for adjustments based on group size or available space, ensuring that the activity remains inclusive and accessible.

The freedom to formulate diverse prompts also adds depth to the conversation, making it possible to tailor questions to the specific audience and occasion. Thoughtful prompt selection can create opportunities for learning about each other’s preferences, values, and personalities, ultimately building stronger relationships among participants.

Furthermore, I find that the Forced Choice icebreaker encourages active listening and respect for differing viewpoints. By observing others’ choices and sharing their own, participants develop a better understanding of their peers and can empathize with different perspectives. This mutual respect contributes to a positive and open atmosphere that supports further collaboration and dialogue.

Overall, the Forced Choice icebreaker is an invaluable tool for breaking the ice, encouraging interaction, and fostering connections among participants in various settings. Its adaptable structure, thought-provoking prompts, and inclusive format create opportunities for meaningful conversations and strengthen relationships among group members.

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Tips for making Forced Choice more inclusive

  • Tip: Before starting the activity, ensure that the environment is inclusive and welcoming for all participants. This can be done by using language that respects diverse backgrounds, abilities, and identities in your prompts and instructions.
  • Tip: Consider creating prompts that reflect a range of experiences and interests to encourage full participation. For example, instead of using “Beach or Mountains?”, you could use “Nature or Urban Exploration?”.
  • Tip: When reading the prompts, try to use a clear and steady voice to make sure everyone can hear and understand the options. This is especially important if you are facilitating for a large group.
  • Tip: Be sensitive to participants who may not feel comfortable making a choice or physically moving in the space. Offer alternative ways to participate, such as raising their hand or sharing their preference verbally.
  • Tip: Encourage respectful listening and open-mindedness during discussions. Remind participants that everyone’s preferences are unique and valuable, and that there is no “right” or “wrong” answer.
  • Tip: Be mindful of the time allocated for this activity, ensuring that all participants have an opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences without feeling rushed.
  • Tip: If a participant shares something personal during the discussion, be sure to acknowledge their contribution with empathy and respect. This will help create a safe and supportive space for everyone.
  • Tip: Reflect on the activity’s impact by asking participants for feedback. This can help you identify areas for improvement and ensure that future iterations of the Forced Choice icebreaker are more inclusive and engaging for all.

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Reflection questions for Forced Choice

  1. What was your favorite prompt from the activity and why? This question allows participants to reflect on their experiences during the icebreaker and identify what they found most engaging or thought-provoking. It can also help facilitators understand which prompts resonated with the group, providing valuable feedback for future iterations of the activity.
  2. Did any of your choices surprise you or lead to an interesting discussion? By asking this question, facilitators create an opportunity for participants to share personal insights and discoveries that emerged during the forced choice activity. This can help build a stronger group dynamic by highlighting shared experiences and fostering connections between individuals.
  3. Was there a prompt that you found challenging to answer or that made you reconsider your initial preference? Encouraging participants to discuss moments of indecision or reevaluation can lead to meaningful conversations about individual values, beliefs, and perspectives. It also allows facilitators to gauge the effectiveness of their chosen prompts in fostering critical thinking and self-reflection.
  4. How did it feel to physically demonstrate your preferences during the activity? This question invites participants to reflect on the impact of non-verbal communication and body language in shaping social interactions. By discussing their comfort levels with physical expression, participants can develop a better understanding of each other’s boundaries and communication styles, promoting a more inclusive and respectful group environment.
  5. Did you learn anything new or unexpected about a fellow participant through this activity? Inquiring about interpersonal discoveries made during the forced choice icebreaker encourages participants to engage in active listening and empathy, strengthening relationships within the group. Facilitators can use these insights to tailor future activities and discussions to the unique needs and interests of their audience.

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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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