Each group spends 5 to 10 minutes discussing what they all have in common.
In conversation, each group identifies two things which all group members have in common, and one thing which is true for at least one member but not the whole group.
When ready, gather all groups together.
Taking turns, each group announces their three ‘common attributes’ as deadpan as possible.
The rest of the groups aim to identify which one of the three attributes is the lie.
Aim to seek consensus, but settle for a majority if necessary.
Finally, the nominated group reveals the correct answer.
Repeat this process until all groups have revealed their lie.
Video Transcript for Categories Twist presented by Mark Collard
So here’s your next task, in your small group of three or four people, I am going to ask you to have conversation over the next couple of minutes. And your task is to end up with three let’s call them categories.
You are going to end up with three categories. Two of those three are going to be true, the third one which will be secret to every other group is going to be not true. It is going to be false. It could be even considered a lie.
Here is what I mean by the category, that is the two things that you identify must, all three or four of you in your group, must have in common.
So it might be that you’ve all been to the Melbourne Zoo. So all three of you, after a conversation, have discovered that you have all been to the Melbourne Zoo. And the other one might be that you all have driven a car with your hand-brake on for at least a kilometre. Something really kind of koooky.
The reason that you want to go for the less than obvious is because when you get to your third one, the one which is perhaps a lie or not quite true, is that it needs to be still kind of out there that it could almost be true.
Because here is your task once you have identified those three, two of which are true for all of the people in your group, three or four of you, all of you can say yes that you have that in common with each other, and the third one not everyone has in common. In fact none of you may have in common.
Is that you are going to share those three things with another group, or maybe other groups depending on how our numbers work, and the other group after having heard, as deadpan as possible those three categories, have to identify which one is the lie.
So this is categories with a twist. So the two categories are true, everyone in your group has in common, and then there is one that you make up that sounds like it could be but it isn’t.
Take a couple of minutes now to identify your list of three. Go.
(Groups are discussing strategies for Categories Twist)
Okay, so I think that most groups now have got there three. So we have got two in your categories that are absolutely true. Everyone in your small group can say Yes to the question, yes that has occurred, that has been an experience that we’ve said we’ve been, and say Yes to that thing.
Then there is one that’ll sound like it can be true, but it actually isn’t.
The way it’ll work is your little group will share to the group on your left, your three, in as deadpan fashion as possible not giving away which one is the lie. The other three or four people will have a short amount of time to come to consensus which one of the three statements is the lie.
Now the rest of the other groups you can all have your own opinions, you don’t get to contribute. Only just the three or four that are actually being spoken to will have the chance to respond, and then we will just work our way around the group.
Got the basic idea?
Alright, so we will start with my group off to my left hand side here. So who is the responsible spokesperson? Josh, you’ve got it.
So as deadpan as possible without indicating which one could be the lie, but you know one of them will be, so Josh when you are ready you may start.
(So we’ve all owned a brown dog, we’ve all at some stage have had blonde hair, and we’ve all been to a wax museum.)
Okay so those three things again are?
( We’ve all owned a brown dog, we’ve all at some stage have had blonde hair, and we’ve all been to a wax museum.)
Okay, wax museum, blonde hair, brown dog. Which one of those three…
(Blonde hair?) Blonde
So there’s one statement in those three that these four do not have in common. Which one is it?
(Hums Jeopardy song)
So Josh do you have an answer, are you ready to lock in an answer?
(The blonde hair)
Alright you believe the one that everyone has had blonde hair some time in their life is the false one? (Yes)
Is that correct group?
(Yes that is correct)
It is correct!
How To Play Narrative
People just love to find out stuff about other people’s lives – even when it’s not true!
This activity – a fun variation of the standard Two Truths and a Lie – just legitimises the whole process.
Divide your group into small groups of two, three or four people. Invite them to find a comfortable spot away from the rest of the group to share for about 5 to 10 minutes as many ‘things’ their group has in common.
There’s always the standard ‘We all come from X town’ or ‘We all brushed our teeth this morning,’ but encourage your groups to dig up some real interesting, quirky stuff about themselves.
For example, a group once proposed these three things:
We have all seen a giraffe give birth at a zoo;
We have all driven over 10 km in a car with the hand-brake on; and
We can all sing the first verse to Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles.
Wow, now that makes you think, doesn’t it?
As part of their conversation, invite each group to identify just two things which they all have in common, and one thing which is true for, perhaps, only one person (but not all) in the group.
When ready, gather everyone back together, and ask each group to state their three ‘common’ attributes as deadpan as possible, so as to not give away the lie.
The object for all the other groups is to debate which one of the three things is the lie.
It’s rarely easy, but always intriguing. You should encourage your group to reach consensus, but in most cases, you’ll settle for a majority rule to keep things moving.
It works best if you encourage lots of creative thoughts to avoid statements such as “We all use a toothbrush to clean our teeth.”
Also encourage each small group to nominate someone in their group who can deliver the three attributes in the most deadpan manner, lest this person unwittingly gives the answer away with a smirk, lack of eye contact or other awkward body language moment.
Any more than four people in a small group makes it very difficult to identify two things which everyone has in common. Not impossible, just more difficult.
I have found that developing three or four statements (in total) works well, but any more is often too hard. And encourage your groups to share their list (of attributes) in any random order.
Don’t labour the consensus. The point of the exercise is the sharing, not that everyone must agree. However, that said, if your goal is to promote consensual decision making, then the topic of sharing is less important.
If necessary, frame the sharing within small groups as ‘above the belt,’ if you know what I mean?
You could integrate Categories Twist as part of a well-designed SEL program to help your group establish and maintain positive and healthy relationships.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
Recognising Strengths, Prejudices & Biases
Controlling One’s Emotions
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Recognising Strengths In Others
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Build Positive Relationships
Demonstrate Cultural Competency
Demonstrating Curiosity & Open-Mindedness
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits of getting to know others better and enjoying a good laugh.
In a small way, you could argue that the social and interpersonal skills required to play Categories Twist successfully speak to the benefits of developing one’s emotional literacy. For example, you could focus on the types of social cues and signals a person may demonstrate or display when they are lying or trying to hide the truth.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which this fun group game could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Whose Truth?: Each small group presents three facts (which are in fact all true) about all group members, one for each person. The rest of the groups have to decide which fact belongs to which person.
Individual Challenge: Individually, a person presents two truths and one lie about themselves. The rest of the group is challenged to uncover the lie.
Group Consensus: As an exercise in decision-making, ask the whole group to make a unanimous decision. That is, the group tries to reach a consensus on which one of the statements is the lie. As best you try, this technique still often ends up as a vote! That’s OK, it’s the process that counts, it could still provide a useful processing topic for you.
Deceptive Fun: Take a look at If You Love Me Honey, Smile to enjoy another fun community-building game that involves entertaining deceptive behaviours.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
If possible, brief the activity and then allocate your large group into smaller breakout rooms to discuss their two truths and a lie. When ready, return everyone to the primary room and invite each group to share their categories, as per normal.
Innovative tool that inspires valuable sharing & fun.
Fascinating group game that sharpens observation skills.
Trust exercise that focuses on inclusion & diversity.
Useful Framing Ideas
Most of us, if not all of us, can claim at least one thing about our lives that is universally unique. For example, I happen to have been hit by lightning – now, that’s something which most people cannot say is true for them. This next exercise will invite you to consider what is true and what is not true about other people in the group…
There is so much to learn when it comes to building up our emotional literacy skill set. For example, do you know what to look for when someone is not telling you the truth? Or, can you tell when some people are not totally on board with an idea? Our next exercise is going to be a lot of fun, but it will also allow you an opportunity to practice these sorts of skills…
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 intriguing ice-breaker exercise:
How hard was it to identify interesting things in common with all others in your group?
What did your inner-voice say to you when you started thinking about what was unique about you?
How unique are you, compared to others? Do you truly believe this?
What impact does this understanding have on our self-worth and relationships with others?