Form into pairs or small groups of three or four (at most.)
Taking turns, explain that each person will be invited to mime three ‘things’ about themselves to their partner, eg what they do for a living, where they live, a hobby.
Explain that no one is permitted to talk, ask questions or perform any part of their mime a second time.
Once each person has mimed their story, gather your group together again.
Invite one person at a time to introduce their partner to the rest of the group, highlighting, in particular, a description of what they observed.
Continue until everyone has introduced their partner.
Video Transcript for That Aint Me Babe
presented by Nate Folan
So here you are with a new partner and what we’re going to do is engage in continuing to get to know each other in a slightly different way, this time in a nonverbal way. And we’re going to focus on three areas and I’ll present those areas in a moment.
What I want to do is provide a demonstration because there’s layers of communication, there’s layers of the exercise that we’ll engage with.
So what I’m looking for is a volunteer that might demonstrate how this goes. Anyone willing to volunteer to work with me? Deb. Sorry, Dante. So thanks, Deb. Here we are.
So what’s going to happen is here Deb and I are going to have an opportunity to share some pieces of information about ourselves, to do so nonverbally, and in our heads, so not outward, but in our heads or in our body or being, we’re going to be guessing what that is.
We’re thinking we know what it is, and if we know what that thing is that I’m acting out if I’m acting or communicating to you Deb, you’re going to say “Got it.” And “Got it” means I’ve got a pretty good idea, when asked I’m going to share what I think it is. You may be right, you may be wrong, you may be crazy if you know the song, right? But you have an idea.
At the same time if I’m acting something out and Deb is looking at me saying I have no clue, you can simply say “More.” So I need to do something different when “More” is called.
So for example if I demonstrate this… One of the categories that we’ll focus on is what is a favourite or engaging physical activity that you enjoy personally. So mine, Deb, would look like this.
Got it. Great. And as you’re looking around some of you also might “Got it”. Does anyone else “Got it”, what I was just just doing? Anyone need “More”? Okay.
So I’m going to do more just to demonstrate. Deb my partner has got it, we’ve moved on to the next one. However if Debb said “More”, I’m now doing this, and I might do this, and I might do this.
Is that different?
So “Got it” was different. So there’s going to be a moment where you’ve got it and you got it right, and there’s a moment where you got it and got it wrong, and that’s part of the joy of the activity. There’s going to be like… I thought you were… What did you think I was doing the first round?
Biking. So you thought I was biking. Anyone else think I was biking? And as I demonstrated a little bit more, what was I doing?
(Taking the baby out of the stroller.)
Taking the baby out of the stroller. Going for a run with the baby. Right? So more information. Did anyone see me riding a horse?
(Thought for a moment)
Half a second maybe. But that would’ve looked different, especially with some horse people in the room. So… Like that? Okay.
So you’ll have three categories. You’re going to take turns with this. And what’ll happen is you’ll again say “Got it” in your head, “More” if you need more, and at that point we’ll just see what happens next and I’ll introduce the next layer to this.
But hold that information. You don’t have to share with your partner and I actually ask you not to because there’ll be sort of a reveal of what you got or what you don’t got in just a moment.
Hold up where you are.
Now some of you… Maybe in this place you just communicate three things nonverbally to your partner, they’ve communicated three things nonverbally to you, and some of you may have been in a place of not being able to help yourself but simply guess, saying it out loud, actually guessing, which is something you could do.
The ask was to actually hold it and say “Got it” without revealing that to your partner, because here’s the moment where you and your partner, in just a moment but not yet, are going to find another partner pair across the room.
You’ll connect with them, and you’ll introduce your partner not only verbally like this is so and so and here’s what they like to do physically, here’s the movie that describes their life, here’s where they would travel if they could go anywhere in the world, but you’re also going to use their nonverbal language, the language that they shared with you, the way they’ve described it including the layers as you introduce them verbally.
And in that moment either you’re going to be right on and they’re saying yes, this person knows me, or that’s not exactly what I was trying to convey.
And there’s a moment of communication where you can look at each other and respond however you need to, laughter, a correction. And feel free if you’re the person that communicated to share what it was that you’re actually trying to convey.
Mine was running with a baby stroller, taking the baby out, versus riding a bike. That’s the example. Does that make sense?
How To Play Narrative
Kick off by breaking your group into pairs, or small groups of three or four (at the most.)
Explain that each person in the pair (or group) will take their turn and mime (ie no verbal communication) three things about themselves to their partner, with a view to communicating enough information so their partner will be able to introduce them to the rest of the group.
The trick is, neither partner can talk, nor can a person repeat their mime. The mimer and observer get just one go, say about two minutes at the most, to communicate their ‘story.’
You could choose to leave it completely open as to the choice of topic(s) a person may mime to their partner, and therefore, consequently have introduced to the group.
However, if you feel that some people may struggle for ideas, or worse, choose inappropriate ones, here’s a few suggestions which are typically fun to mime:
Past occupation, or part-time job.
Where you live.
A recent exciting experience.
Favourite movie or TV show.
Once everyone has mimed three elements to their partner, re-gather your group, and invite each person to introduce their partner highlighting, in particular, a description of what they observed.
The results are often hilarious, with many an embarrassed pronouncement of ‘that aint me babe’ when someone interprets a certain part of the mime as something different to what their partner intended.
Practical Leadership Tips
Like many group activities, it’s often useful to demonstrate what the exercise looks like first. To this end, I may choose to direct my mime to the whole group, as if they were my partner.
Please note, this exercise is not about getting it right, although many people will. It’s about creating a safe environment in which to laugh and play, as well as learning about each other, all of which will gradually build trust.
In an effort to ‘get it right,’ some folks will ask if they can write the different parts of the story on paper to assist their memory. Applaud their creativity, but in the interests of having fun and sharpening observation skills, decline the idea.
You could integrate That Ain’t Me Babe 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:
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 sharing a little about your story and enjoying a good laugh.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to interact and engage with others may speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy behavioural norms in advance. Or, if not, you could use these less-than-desired interactions or outcomes to explore what sorts of behaviours your group would prefer to see. For example, you could invite your group to reflect on the level of comfort people felt miming their story in front of their peers, and relate this self-consciousness to the development of trust and empathy in your group.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which That Ain’t Me Babe could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Funny Story: Ask each person to mime an interesting or funny scene from their life, for the purposes of having it re-told by their partner.
Mime Playback: A more challenging task, invite the observing partner to mime what they saw back to the group, and ask the group to guess what it is they are communicating (about their partner.)
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
If possible, divide small teams of 2 or 3 people into unique breakout rooms. Instruct each person to share as per normal within, say, 5 minutes. When ready, return everyone to the primary room and invite a series of volunteers to share the story they observed their roommate(s) tell.
You Might Also Like...
Entertaining story-telling exercise that audiences love.
Playful & energetic circle game to fill-in two minutes.
Me You You Me
Hilarious, interactive name-game for small groups.
Useful Framing Ideas
I’ve always admired the great mime artists of the world, such as Marcel Marceau, for their exquisite ability to communicate so much with so little, and certainly without words. This next exercise will invite each of you to become Marcel for just a couple of minutes, to communicate a few things about yourself to your partner…
One of the most scary things about public speaking for most people, is the prospect of having to talk about themselves in front of others. But, what if I asked you to talk about someone else? Would you find that an easier task? With just one small twist, let’s find out…
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, action-oriented name- game:
Was it difficult to not talk (verbally) as you were telling your story? What was the hardest part?
What signals from your partner did you observe that indicated that they understood what you said, or otherwise?
How might you improve your communication next time?
Are there any lessons in this exercise that help us improve our day-to-day communication?