It’s what happens when you work with other educators, but I know at some point it’s very useful in the world of icebreakers so to speak, that you learn something about names, and this is a classic one. And what’s so great about it is that you do not need to know anyone’s name.
Just talk half a step back out of your circle first of all… Is that some person, it’ll begin with me, is simply going to point across to the other side and simply say the words “Who”. And that happens there is that I go “Who?”, and that person to whom I’m pointing immediately yells out their name so everyone can hear it.
So we’ll just practise that skill. Are you ready? Who
Beautiful. Now Darren, you’re now invited to leave the circle and repeat the process I’ve just started by pointing to someone, and then you’ll say “Who” and they will call out their name. Alright?
So let’s just start that again. Are you ready? Who?
Beautiful. Start again.
Beautiful. Keep going.
Move it. And you move into their spot. Excellent. Keep going.
Alright, hold it. Good job. Come on back into a circle. You’re doing very well. Now, to add in a little challenge, to ramp it up a little bit, when you have pointed to somebody, was it Gary?
Right. You were in a session yesterday, if I remember. So Gary, so I point to you and you say your name nice and loudly to everybody else, but as we pass, at some point we kind of pass each other, we can then introduce each other through a handshake and you say… I say your name and you may not know my name, and I’ll call… I’ll give out my name as well. So for example it’ll go like this. Who?
Gary, good to see you, man. You could see the label on my T-shirt. You get the idea. And of course he points and he repeats the process. So now there’s going to be an interaction between the two people who have pointed and have called out their name.
So when you’re ready, Gary, you may reinitiate the process.
Good, and you shake your hands. Good job. Keep going. And so Sharon, you do the same thing. And go to them. So you go for their spot. That’s it. Beautiful. Excellent.
How To Play Narrative
If you have difficulty remembering names, then you’re gonna love this name-game, because a working memory is not required.
Start by asking your group to form a circle. With you in the centre, point to someone (perhaps, someone you don’t know) in the circle and loudly call out ‘WHO?”
This very-public announcement will invite the pointed-to person to call out their name loudly and then walk towards you. As you meet in the centre, you may shake hands or exchange some form of greeting, perhaps even using one another’s name (ie if you can remember what they said three seconds ago.)
Having exchanged greetings, you now move into the spot in the circle where the pointed-to person once stood. This move invites the latter to resume the pointing and greeting routine, and the process continues.
Once it appears that the group has grasped what is going on, randomly introduce a second, third, fourth, etc persons into the centre of the circle to ramp up the energy and participation.
Practical Leadership Tips
One of the best elements of this name-game is that you don’t need to remember any names. Woo hoo!
While the size of the group is not really a significant factor to consider, if it involves 100 or more people, it may become hard for someone to know if the person in the centre is pointing at them (or a neighbour?) In this case, consider breaking into smaller groups.
Really encourage your group to loudly call the pointing instruction of “WHO?” and one’s name when pointed. To yell would be too much, perhaps too intimidating. A loud call is fun, and it will often trigger nervous laughter and certainly helps to break the ice.
Consider pointing to some of the lesser-known members of your group to encourage their participation.
Hats off to Karl Rohnke who first demonstrated this very simple, fun name-game as part of Project Adventure‘s 40th-anniversary celebrations in 2011.
You could integrate Who? as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Ever forgotten a name you just learned or heard? No, me either – not! It’s hardly any wonder why we shy away from large groups because we convince ourselves that we won’t remember any names. Well, folks, I’m pleased to say that this is your lucky day. The most difficult part of this next exercise is remembering your own name when called upon. How hard can that be?…
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 large group name-game:
Do you often find it difficult to remember names?
When you forget the name of a person you have met before, what strategies do you use to avoid looking bad when interacting with them again?
What systems or techniques do you use to help you remember names?
Fun & Interactive ‘Ice-Breaker’ Session
What You Need:
10+ people, 30 mins, ‘Ice-Breaker Question Exchange’ Cards (Print+Play), Nonsense Numbers sheet (Print+Play)
Who? – energising name-game that does not require a knowledge of names