Explain that you will shortly announce a series of quick partner activities.
Demonstrate the first partner activity, and then ask each pair to try it, eg whistle with your lips.
Continue to introduce more partner activities for each pair to try, tell a joke, whistle into your hands, tie a pair of shoe-laces, etc.
Swap partners, and/or invite each person to teach a skill they know to their partner.
How To Play Narrative
Break your group into pairs, and explain that you will soon announce a series of quick partner activities. For fun ways to do this, see Getting Into Pairs.
You can choose to introduce one exercise at a time, inviting people to swap partners to try the next one.
Or, even better, ask each person to teach their partner a skill that they know how to do, but their partner does not know. Then, ask existing partners to split and ‘teach’ what they have just learned to a new partner.
All you need is a series of fun partner activities to share.
Don’t know any? Then, here are a few which are just as curious as they are teachable:
Tie A Pair Of Shoe-Laces: Standing side by side, each partner unties the laces of their shoe closest to their partner. The object is for each person, using only one hand each, to tie the shoe-laces (one from each shoe) together with a standard bow. If only one person has shoes, it’s the same exercise, just re-tie the shoe-laces belonging to the same shoe.
Whistle: You’ll be amazed at how many people cannot whistle. This exercise is about teaching one another how to do it. The delight a chorus of hollow breaths and chuckles brings is worth all the trying.
Whistle Into Your Hands: Cup your hands tightly together to form an ‘air-tight’ container, all but for a small gap which exists between your thumbs. Blow over the top of this hole, and you will make a hollow-pitched whistling sound. You will, just keep trying.
Tell A Joke: Hands up if you have trouble remembering a joke? No matter how long or short, funny or not, pass on a favourite joke to your partner. Come on, everyone can think of at least one joke!
Let Me Show You: This is completely open. Each person presents any little skill or talent they choose to their partner. The choices are endless, and without spoiling too much of your own discovery, stuff like how to curl your tongue, how to sing, how to do a simple yoga move and sharing a card trick are all examples of what I’ve seen folks pull out of their hat at a moment’s notice.
Body Gym: This tiny teach never ceases to amaze me for it’s sheer inventiveness. Partners take it in turns to show and then teach how to do something completely bizarre with their bodies. Dislocating their shoulder, rolling their eyes back, bending over backwards and touching the floor, twisting their hand a full 720 degrees around (and not screaming!), are all examples of what I have seen people do. We are all, indeed, completely out of the ordinary. This echoes many elements of the activity PDQ Test.
Practical Leadership Tips
Note, the emphasis is on the trying, not the accomplishment. The whole point of the exercise is to invite your group to interact and share – the more of this that occurs the better. If some knowledge or skill is actually transferred, then wonderful. Sure, invite some extraordinary feats to be demonstrated to the whole group if you like, but this level of sharing is not necessary. Indeed, it may prove counter-productive, insofar as some folks may not wish to share something (with their partner) for fear of the prospect of having to demonstrate this skill to the whole group.
Beware of the common “I don’t have anything to share” complaint. This is never true, everyone knows something or can do something that another person cannot. Simply encourage these folk to explore a little deeper into their experience and skill-set, and something will always pop up. At a minimum, some obscure or trivial fact can often be extracted from one’s hobbies or interests.
On occasions, while I am waiting for people to arrive, I will introduce this exercise to keep people busy and productive – the unofficial start as I call it. It’s a wonderful way to generate energy and overcome those awkward introductory moments.
Show Me How: In pairs, each partner demonstrates and teaches the method they use to tie their shoe-laces.
Quick Game: In pairs or small groups, share a short but fun activity or game they enjoy with the rest of the group.
Ice-breaker that invites people to playfully mix & mingle.
Names Stock Market
Highly interactive card game to learn names quickly.
Creative & numerical strategy to get to know people.
Useful Framing Ideas
I’ve worked with groups all over the world for many years, and this next exercise never ceases to amaze me in terms of what is possible. I’ll start you off with a few simple ‘teachable’ skills, and then I’ll open it up to the group to add to the list. Are you ready? Okay,…
One of the best ways to learn is to teach another person what you just learned. There’s something about the process of a new skill being passed through your grey matter in a teaching capacity that reinforces the skill you learned as a student. In a moment, I’m going to invite you to be a ‘student’ as your partner shares something with you that they can do, but you cannot…
Fun ‘Arrival-Get-To-Know-You’ Session
What You Need: 10+ people, 40 mins
Props: set of Alphabet Equation cards (Print+Play)