Ask your group to form a circle, including yourself.
Clap your hands together as they move in the direction of your right-hand neighbour.
This person will immediately repeat this clapping motion towards their right-hand neighbour.
Encourage an impulse of claps to continue around the circle as fast as possible.
Repeat this motion around the circle several times to achieve a nice flow.
Reverse the direction and/or try a variation.
How To Play Narrative
Group exercises don’t come much simpler than this.
Invite your group to form a circle, including yourself if you wish to take part (why not?)
Start by asking one person (perhaps you?) to clap their hands together, as they move in the direction of their right- (or left-) hand neighbour.
This neighbour, having received your clap, will then repeat this movement and clap their hands together in the direction of their right-hand neighbour.
As your group starts to get the idea, encourage each person to pass the clap as quickly as possible in the same direction so that the ‘impulse’ of the initial clap travels around the circle in time-warp speed.
Allow this impulse to travel around the circle a couple of times, perhaps reversing the direction to mix it up a little. Continue until the claps begin to flow nicely around the circle.
In the space of less than a minute, the energy of your group will have risen, and they’ll be more likely to be engaged for what’s next.
If you have time, and your group looks like they’re up for more, try something new from the Variations tab below.
Practical Leadership Tips
Having a bunch of fun clapping games up your sleeve is one of the most useful assets of a successful group facilitator. On top of just being fun to play, they are also extremely useful when you need to fill in some downtime and/or raise the energy of your group.
Clapping is typically very accessible, including programs which support people with disabilities, eg two people with one hand can create a clap.
If you have a moment, explore the technology of clapping. Invite individuals to clap in front of others, and observe all of the differences, eg stances, hand positions, sounds, etc. Kinda fun.
Giving Back: Instruct your group that any person may decide at any time to pass the clap (they received) back to the neighbour they got it from, thereby reversing the direction. Observe how disruptive this can be.
Back & Forth: When receiving a clap, instruct people to first clap back to the sender before passing the next clap to their neighbour.
Variable Heights: Pass claps either low (bending down) or high (above your head) or combine both of the above.
Multiple Claps: Instruct your group to clap two, three or four times (in a row) as they pass it to their neighbour. Vary the heights of each clap if you want to ramp up the challenge, eg first clap is low and each successive clap gets higher.
Auditorium Style: Ideal for energising large groups of seated people, with limited space to move. Invite people to stand, and, starting from one side of the auditorium, pass a single clap to their left- (or right-) hand neighbour all the way to the other side of the auditorium. Do this back and forth a couple of times, and you’ll have successfully woken up your audience.
Team Clap Pass: Form teams of two, three or four people standing next to each other in a large circle. Simultaneous claps are passed around the circle, one small team at a time. Ideally, each small team aims to clap together as if to sound like one clap.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
In advance, establish a particular order or sequence of people in your group, eg the alphabetical order of first names works well. Tip: ask everyone to note who are the one or two people before them in the sequence to speed things along. Then invite the first person to clap, which causes the next person to clap, etc, and you are on your way. A good system may invite those who have clapped to cross their arms on their chests, or hands on their head, etc.
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Useful Framing Ideas
There is something pretty sweet about a moment in which you sense everything is working in sync with all the other parts. It doesn’t often happen, but when it does, we feel good. This next activity provides us with an opportunity to experience this exciting sensation…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this fun energising game:
How did you feel before we started clapping?
How do you feel now? What changed?
What else did you notice during this brief exercise?
How difficult were the variations of the passing to complete successfully?