42 Ways to Determine Who Goes First in an Exercise

Who Goes First in an Exercise

Tired of rolling a dice to figure out who goes first in an exercise? You’re in the right place. Behold! Whether you’re playing live or virtually, here are 42 ways to determine first player (with instructions).

When facilitating applied improv exercises, I’ve found that things run more smoothly if you give the participants an easy way to determine who goes first. Yes, you can always say, “Decide who goes first…” but that immediately introduces a bit of ambiguity that they have to solve before doing an activity.

Plus it misses out on a moment of levity and/or connection. That said, if you’re doing a series of different exercises, you can sometimes run out of different ways of selecting who starts and going back to “Whoever has the longest hair…” over and over again can get old (and feels hair-ist).

So I polled some fellow applied improvisers in the fantastic applied improv facebook group and helped generate this list of 42 ways to determine who goes first in an exercise. A quick note about these prompts:

  • These are ideal for pair or small group activities. You likely wouldn’t use many of these if you’re asking for a single volunteer out of the entire group.
  • They’re just possibilities to get you thinking. Not every prompt will feel appropriate for every group.
  • They’re just meant to get things started. You can let the group know, if they don’t feel like answering a question, the answer is a tie, or they’re not sure, they can always just pick someone to start.

Determine Who Goes First in an Exercise For All Facilitations:

  1. Alphabetically by first name / last name / nickname.
  2. Number of syllables in first name / middle name / last name.
  3. Whoever most recently had a birthday.
  4. Whoever’s birthday is coming up next.
  5. Whoever got the most/least amount of sleep.
  6. Whoever’s been awake the longest.
  7. Whoever has the most amount of pillows on their bed.
  8. Whoever was born furthest from where they are now.
  9. Whoever lives closest to water / mountains / the equator / [local landmark].
  10. Whoever has been at company / organization the longest / shortest.
  11. Whoever has been in industry / function the longest / shortest.
  12. Whoever has had the most coffee / tea / water today.
  13. Whoever has the most siblings / pets / plants.
  14. Whoever speaks the most languages.
  15. Whoever has been to the most countries.
  16. Whoever was most recently in a car / plane / train / boat.
  17. Whoever has the shortest / longest hair.
  18. Whoever has best control of their eyebrows / nostrils.
  19. Whoever can wink / snap the best.
  20. Whoever has the most colorful shirt / blouse / shoes / socks.
  21. Whoever is currently wearing the most pockets.
  22. Whoever subscribes to the most streaming services (Netflix, Disney+, etc).
  23. Whoever owns the most number of electronic devices (computers, phones, etc).
  24. Whoever most recently went to the dentist / grocery store / office.
  25. Whoever has gone first the least amount of time in this workshop.

Who Goes First Ideas For Virtual Facilitations

  1. The first / last one to turn their camera / mic on / off.
  2. The last one to use the raise hand / thumbs up / clap reaction.
  3. The last one to stand up and stretch.
  4. Whoever has the most plants / pictures in their video background.
  5. Whoever has the most colorful virtual background.
  6. Whoever has the most colorful / “coolest” desktop background.
  7. Whoever has the most / least windows / doors in their room.
  8. Whoever can see the most number of screens / plants / people from where they are sitting.
  9. Whoever has been on Zoom / virtual meetings the longest today.
  10. Whoever has the most number of other applications open on their computer.
  11. Whoever has the most number of tabs open on their browser.
  12. Whoever most recently accidentally talked while on mute.
  13. Whoever last received a package / delivery.
  14. Whoever has the most / least number of people / pets currently in their home / office.
  15. Whoever most recently wore shoes / a belt / dress clothes.
  16. Whoever most recently left their city limits / state / country.
  17. Whoever most recently went outside.

And for fun, one facilitator suggested we brainstorm the WORST ways to determine who goes first. These are prompts you should definitely NOT use.

How NOT to Decide Who Goes First In An Exercise

  1. Whoever has the darkest secret.
  2. Whoever is the most uncomfortable.
  3. Whoever can scream the longest.
  4. In order of attractiveness.
  5. By weight / size.
  6. How much their parents love them.
  7. By skin color.
  8. Most emotional trauma.
  9. Whoever is the drunkest.
  10. Most recently went to the bathroom.
  11. Whoever owns the biggest house.
  12. Longest time since being intimate with another person.

Also shout out to Ted DesMaisons who also shared his own list. He shares a few great prompts for creating your own prompts, including:

  • Farthest to/closest to…
  • Most recent…
  • Alphabetical order…
  • Lowest/Highest number of…
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