This is just like the clap-pass icebreaker, but words replace a hand-clap. It’s just as fast and energizing, with one change: It can be harder to let go into the flow of the story.
The group can either sit or stand in a circle. Tell them they are to tell a story as a group using only one word each. Choose the first person and ask them for a word, then cue the next person and the next and the next. Limit everyone to 1 word and keep them moving. Like clap-pass, rhythm helps.
Ask participants what it was like to participate and enjoy their answers. You’ll hear things like: “It was hard to let go of the story I wanted to tell!” “I didn’t want to get stuck with words like ‘the,’ ‘and,’ ‘or, ‘it,’ when I had a really great word in mind.” “My brain froze because I liked my idea for a story better than the one we were telling.”
This icebreaker is a microcosm of being in a team. We want to contribute, and we want to contribute what we think is best or coolest, regardless of what the team – or the client, if you are a consultant – needs. If you want to go deeper, ask about how a team might introduce fairness into its work together. What may come out is how 1 or 2 people with the loudest voices or strongest egos always have more influence on the team’s conversations and work. We have a deep instinct for fairness. We all have control needs too. How are you balancing those needs? This icebreaker can help you raise that question. Answering it might be a simple as agreeing to take turns or occasionally impose arbitrary and artificial limits on speaking times.