Introduce a series of fun handshake greetings, one at a time.
For example, and by demonstration with a volunteer, engage in a typical ‘high-five’ greeting.
Invite each person to engage in a ‘high-five’ greeting with as many people in the group as possible in less than 20 seconds.
Demonstrate a second innovative handshake greeting, eg a fist-bump, inviting your group to try it out with as many people as possible in less than 20 seconds.
Repeat this process with three more interesting greetings.
Video Transcript for Five Handshakes in Five Minutes presented by Mark Collard
Could I ask you now, what’s the question, the question would be: What’s the number one way in which most people when they meet for the first time, you’ve already done it many times today? What do you often do when you meet somebody? You’ll do something to introduce yourself. What do you often do?
Hi, and do you ever accompany that with anything?
(How are you?)
How are you? Yup, what was that Tim?
And a handshake, often. So it’s like hi how are you, we often extend a handshake. Not for good or bad just that’s what we often do. This exercise celebrates that typically universal concept of introduction.
We are going to start very simply, here’s what it is. Actually could I ask for you to be a volunteer Pam?
Fantastic! It’s very simple because the first one you’re all going to know, and that is the typical High-Five. So basically that’s it, that’s basically your handshake.
I’m going to give you five handshakes in five minutes and that’s the first one, actually probably even quicker for this group. I might shut that door in just a few moments. So basically to high five everyone as you can in the next sort of twenty seconds. And GO!
(Group begins to High-Five.)
Feel free to add a little sound to it as well.
(Group continues to High-Five while saying whoo hoo.)
You got it. Excellent! Now the next one, now I will introduce this to you as well there was a group once that said “Oh do you know about this one?” It’s like okay so they come there and they did the High-Five, and they were a little more sensitive about this. They stuck there they placed their thumbs around the back of their partner, and this was the High-Five hug.
So pretty cool, but I’ll not ask you to do that though today. Just out of interest you might like to know that one day.
Alright so we now this come directly from the streets of New York. This is referred to as the New York Shuffle. Adam if you don’t mind being my partner? We’re going to face off with each other this time, and using your right hand first you’re going to basically just tap each other, and then do the left hand, and then do the right again, and then the left.
And then the final part of this introduction, this little New York shuffle handshake, is that you end up turning side to side with each other. As you jump up the object is to be able to touch shoulders, and when that happens you say ‘BING’ together. So it’s basically we’ll do this piece. You ready, here we go.
(Mark and Adam jump and bumps shoulders and say BING.)
Great, perfect! So let’s try that again. One, two, three, four, bing. And go!
(Group partners for the New York shuffle handshake.)
So now we move into the area of the woodlands. No matter where you are in the world, and this time you are actually going to again still involve two people. Could I ask for a volunteer to step forward? I’ll show you what this one looks like. I love this bit. You got it, I’ve forgotten your name.
Thank you David. So the first person starts by placing out their clenched fist with thumb placed up. So I’m going to take yours, and then you take your left hand place it on the top thumb up, and then I take it here. And from here we basically got one foot in front of the other and slowly move it backwards and forwards as if we’re holding a big saw like a lumberjack. Then we make the sound shh, shh, shh, shh three or four times, and then you move on. GO!
(Group partners for the Lumberjack handshake.)
The next one, actually this is a celebration it just occurred last week. Anyone happen to know the celebration in the United States particularly the last Thursday in November?
Thanksgiving, this is all about celebrating that. Clearly we’re not in the States here, but this is where I picked up the idea.
Again the first person will come up and you’ll have just a bit like a High-Five. You come up and you basically create this part which is the feathers, the back part of the turkey. So could you do that for me Jan? Great, and then I come up having seen that part of the introduction then take this hand and put it right here, this is like the front of the turkey, and together once we’ve connected we go “Gobble, gobble, gobble.” Like that, that’s all you need to do. So we’ll just try that again. Ready here we go.
(Mark and Jan try the Thanksgiving handshake.)
(Group partners for the Thanksgiving handshake.)
Final one, this time it’s a little gentler and has a bit more intimate impact for the group. Again could I ask for a volunteer, someone to step forward? Who would like to do that? Perfect Donna, great.
So we step in and it’s a standard handshake we come in here. I’d like you to imagine that this area of our hands is a cocoon and in the cocoon is like a caterpillar that’s metamorphosing.
Okay so it’s struggling to get out of it’s canon. So what happens is that it basically twists and turns three times and you say “Caterpillar, caterpillar, caterpillar.” Three times and then finally it breaks out of its cocoon. We then grab each other’s thumbs and with the wings of the butterfly it flies away and we say butterfly.
Okay so here let’s try that again. Caterpillar, caterpillar, caterpillar, butterfly. Go!
(Group partners for the caterpillar butterfly handshake.)
How To Play Narrative
This exercise is a glimpse of just five (of forty) highly innovative handshakes which were shared as part of Project Adventure‘s 40th-anniversary celebrations.
Start with your group assembled before you, or perhaps in a circle, and describe one of the most common forms of popular handshake/greetings, the High-Five.
That is, by demonstration, invite a volunteer to mimic your action of raising an open hand above your heads and then bring both open palms together rapidly until they meet in a celebratory clap of sorts.
The demonstration now over, invite everyone to mingle and greet as many people in the group with a ‘High-Five.’ After 10 to 20 seconds of action, bring everyone’s attention back to you to introduce the next handshake/greeting.
There are dozens of novel and fun ways to greet another person. By all means, make up your own, or solicit ideas from your group, but here’s four more to get you going:
New York Shuffle: Two people face one another, and in sequence, slap each other’s right hands, and then left hands, and then right and left again. To conclude, each person turns their side to their partner and with a little hop, jumps in the air at the same time as gently bumping their partner’s shoulder. As shoulders meet, each person makes a “BING” sound. In short, it sounds like this – slap, slap, slap, slap, bing!
Lumberjack: One person begins by clenching their fist and pointing their thumb up in the air in front of their partner. Their partner then wraps their hand around this thumb and then points their thumb in the air. First person repeats, and the set-up concludes with their partner placing their other hand on top of this hand-clenched tower of sorts. Then, the pair gently at first and then building a little pace, rock the tower of hands back and forth between them as if it was a hand-saw and they were cutting through a log.
Turkey: One person places their open hand above their head, similar to a ‘high-five’ position. A second person clenches their fist and points their thumb out and touches the butt of their clenched fist on their partner’s open palm. On contact, both people make the “GOBBLE, GOBBLE GOBBLE..” sound of a turkey. In effect, the out-stretched thumb is the neck of the turkey and the open palm represents the fan of the turkey’s tail feathers.
Butterfly: Two people engage in a standard handshake. Chanting the words “CATERPILLAR, CATERPILLAR, CATERPILLAR” the partners wiggle their co-joined hands in front of them. Then, on the third “CATERPILLAR,” the pair alter their handshake so that their thumbs interlock, and then on the word “BUTTERFLY,” float their interlocked thumbs above their heads, flapping their fingers as they go, as if the caterpillar grew wings and flew away. Ahhhhh.
This exercise grew out of an idea to celebrate Project Adventure‘s 40th anniversary – the theme of which was forty years of innovation. The training staff set themselves the goal of capturing forty different types of fun handshakes on video. These were duly recorded, and published on its Facebook page in October 2011.
Move quickly between the greetings. If you dwell too long on any one of them, you’ll quickly lose the energy to present the full complement.
As always, the success of this exercise will be significantly influenced by the level of energy and enthusiasm you bring to it. Yep, there’s some pretty crazy interactions here, but they’re playful, and it’s all about inviting your group to have fun, share and build some trust.
No matter the source of your ‘greetings,’ always start with the least challenging or most familiar, and build up to more novel types.
Volunteers – sometimes there are none, other times many. Be prepared for both. If no-one volunteers invite a co-facilitator or explore the hesitation. If many volunteer, don’t turn them away – support their eagerness by pairing them up and demonstrate together.
Be prepared for inspired participants who desire to share a handshake of their own.
Haven’t got much time? Simply introduce two or three handshakes in two or three minutes!
You could integrate Five Handshakes In Five Minutes as part of a well-designed SEL program to establish and promote healthy and supportive relationships in your group and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
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 to one’s wellbeing of enjoying a short burst of physical activity and a good laugh.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to successfully (and safely) interact with others may reflect the behavioural norms of your group. For example, you could invite your group to reflect on the following questions to explore the significance of their behaviours:
Were there any behaviours that concerned you during the activity? What did you make these behaviours mean?
Expressed as a percentage, what proportion of the group did you physically engage with for each gesture?
If this percentage is low/high, what might this say about our group?
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Five Handshakes In Five Minutes could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Stop & Share 1: Invite each pair to introduce themselves before getting stuck into a greeting.
Stop & Share 2: After engaging in a handshake, invite each pair to quickly share something (eg about themselves, or perhaps in response to a question you have posed the group) before moving onto a new partner.
Here are two more fun handshake greetings: Wind-Up Toy – two people face one another and hold hands (as if forming a circle with their arms between them.) Bending their knees and swinging their arms in a circle in unison, the pair count down “ONE, TWO, THREE.” At which point, the pair release hands and immediately transform into their favourite wind-up toy from their childhood, eg robots, dolls, cars, etc. Popcorn – small groups of two to six people form a circle and immediately bend-down and take in a big breath. Once down, looking at each other, everyone proceeds to release their breath slowly by making a ‘hissing’ sound (a bit like a pressure cooker) for as long as possible. As soon as an individual runs out of breath they jump up and shout “POP.” Once everyone has ‘popped, everyone seeks a new group to start-over.
Invent Your Own: In pairs, ask your group to develop as many zany handshakes they can imagine, and then shortly afterwards, invite a number of volunteer pairs to demonstrate their creations.
You Might Also Like...
Rapid & highly interactive greeting exercise for groups.
Innovative tool that inspires valuable sharing & fun.
People to People
Anatomical pairing game with lots of fun movements.
Useful Framing Ideas
One of the most common forms of physical greetings is the handshake. In most circumstances, this is a relatively safe interaction between two people, especially if they are meeting for the first time. This exercise celebrates the extraordinary variety of handshakes and greetings that have evolved over time. Perhaps you know a few favourites of your own? Here’s a sample of just five I’ve come across…
We have all seen the amazing array of fascinating handshakes and greetings that many ‘cool’ groups demonstrate when they meet one of their own. Deep down, some of us wish that we could be a part of their group, if not only for the sheer pleasure of looking cool ourselves when engaged in one of these greetings. Well folks, this is your lucky day…
Do you often get bored with the traditional handshake greeting? Are you game to try something new?…
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 highly interactive greeting game:
How did you feel when the exercise was first introduced? Did that feeling change?
Are you inspired to share a unique handshake or greeting you know with the group?
When was the last time you experienced something which invited you to step outside your comfort zone?