Icebreaker: You Can Only Ask One Question

Icebreaker: You Can Only Ask One Question


This exercise can be used as an icebreaker but can also to see how delegates approach problem solving. The problems considered can also be customised to make the exercise even more useful when an ideal answer is found. As a result, it is a power template to use when you need to make people focus and make important decisions.


Ask one question in regard with a particular role in a given situation so you can decide.

What You Need

  • A series of “Situations Cards” provided below. Each card describes a given situation and a role. You can consider extending the set based on your training needs or your specific audience.


  • Divide the delegates to pairs. If you have an odd number of delegates, use a group of three.
  • Explain that you will be given a card which depicts a situation.
  • Your task is simple. If you could ask only one question to find out if a person is suitable for the role or not, what would you ask?
  • Discuss this with your partner and then record it on the paper.
  • Allocate 7 minutes for this part.
  • Ask groups to give their card to the group on their left.
  • Ask groups to go through a second round using the new situations and identify their single questions.
  • Allocate another 7 minutes for this part.
  • Bring everyone back together.
  • Ask each group to share their given situation and then state their single question.
  • Ask the group who also worked on this situation to state their chosen question.
  • Encourage the two groups to compare their ideas and discuss while others listen.
  • Ask other groups to provide feedback, possible improvements or objections.
  • Continue one by one until all cases have been covered.
  • Follow with a discussion.


Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes

Activity: 7 min round 1 + 7 min round 2 + 10 min sharing = 24 minutes

Group Feedback: 10 minutes


Was it difficult to come up with the single question? What did you think of the alternative questions suggested by others? What is the most important benefit from looking at a problem in this way?


Situation Cards

To Tutor: Write each of the following on a separate card.

  • Employing a receptionist
  • Choosing a supplier
  • Employing a marketing director
  • Choosing an astronaut to send to Mars
  • Hiring a wedding photographer
  • Hiring a babysitter
  • Choosing a plumber
  • Choosing a dentist
  • Hiring an A-list Hollywood actor to appear in company advertisement  

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