How it works is that I will begin is I am going to simply point to a person across the other side of the circle to me, but I will call that person’s name first.
So that is your first challenge, how many names can you remember from the cocktail party that we had earlier today.
So for example it can sound a little like this, “Erin.”
Now as soon as I’ve done that I walk towards her. Soon as she hears her name and she sees me coming towards her that will trigger her to then do the same thing as me. She’ll find one person she points to calls that person’s name and moves towards them, which allows me to enter into her space. That is she leaves the circle I fill it, she does the same thing calls someone else’s name.
So for example let’s just see what that looks like. “ERIN.”
(Group start to call names and walk across circle.)
(Mark begins another person moving.)
Yup there’s two. Keep moving.
Now I am going to invite a slight change to the interaction. When I go, for example, Erin that she is going to then, we are going to exchange a greeting. We’ll possibly just shake hands. I’ll have already said her name she’ll say “Thank you Mark” or “Hi Mark.” She’ll now use my name.
Now if you don’t happen to know that person’s name. What do you think you might do?
You could say help. Yup, what else?
(Sorry I forgot your name.)
Yeah it’s the same sort of thing isn’t it? It’s like “Sorry help me with your name.” And I just want to point out, I want to frame, that interaction as you care enough to want to know the name, and not that you are stupid and forgot because at this point in the program you’ve heard pretty much everyone’s name at least once.
So that interaction if you don’t happen to remember the name just means hey I care enough to want to know it, not that you’re stupid and forgot.
Okay, so we are going to interact shake hands perhaps and then of course you go on your merry way by pointing to someone calling their name, you interact and so on and so on and so on.
(The group continues to play Fill Me In with the added interaction.)
Now because you’ll notice that once we introduce two, three, four crosses there is a lot of interaction in the centre. I now invite you at any point you basically pass somebody you may also interact with them on your way to your space.
So if I said Teck Kwan we would interact, but it happens to be that Reno was crossing in the middle it might be a matter of “hey Reno how’s it going,” “Teck Kwan good to see you.” And I work my way across.
(Group continues to play Fill Me In with the added interaction.)
How To Play Narrative
Ask your group to form a circle, including yourself. Consider using a Velcro Circle to get there.
The action begins when one person (you) steps into the centre of the circle at the same time announcing the name of another person who is, perhaps, on the other side of the circle. Having called their name, you extend your arm in front of you to point and then walk towards that named-person.
Then, as soon as this person hears their name called, they immediately leave their spot in the circle to effectively swap positions with you. At which point, this new person in the centre calls out a third person’s name, and the process starts all over again.
In and out, in and out, the action continues.
At a point you believe the group is ready for more, introduce one or more new people to start calling out a name across the circle. A series of chaotic and confusing crossings will result, not to mention, lots of fun.
Practical Leadership Tips
Note, any time a new name is called, this newly named-person must be a part of the circle, ie they cannot be one of the folks who are in the centre of the circle pointing and naming others. As more and more people enter into the centre of the circle, this is not as easy as it seems.
Your group will need a reasonable level of name-knowingness to enjoy this activity. However, each person does not need to know everybody’s name. The simple process of hearing names being announced will assist with name retention.
At a point when you have introduced two or more name-calling people, encourage lots of eye contact and careful movements in the centre of the circle.
Watch your language when you frame this exercise, especially with young people. Be clear that the person pointing and calling another’s name is to use the latter person’s ‘real’ name, not some possibly less-affirming nickname, eg “Boof-head.”
Alternative Moves: Invite everyone to move briskly, or to hop, jump, walk sideways, etc.
Greetings 1: Invite the person who has called out a name, to introduce themselves by name to the other, perhaps shake hands as they trade places before this newly-name person repeats the process.
Greetings 2: As the movement of people in the centre of the circle gains momentum, invite people to shake the hand and greet (using the name of) someone as they pass them in the middle of the circle.
If your group does not have a high level of name-knowingness, consider presenting Who? first.
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Useful Framing Ideas
This exercise will test how quickly you can think on your feet when your name is called. You see, in a few moments, someone may randomly call out your name. In a group context, this will often surprise you, leaving you momentarily stunned. However, your primary task in this exercise is to respond as quickly as possible, and not dwell too long on who called your name and what you have to do next…
How good would it be if you only ever had to remember one name, other than your own, in a group? You’d think it would be easy, wouldn’t you? How hard could it be to remember one name, you say? Well, as this next activity may demonstrate, the process of remembering just one other name is a lot harder than you think…