Ask them to close their eyes and mingle randomly in the area until you say “STOP.”
With eyes now open, everyone must remain standing in the same position until they are tagged on the shoulder.
To start, tap one person at random who must then quickly attempt to name and tag (in that order) another person in the group.
This process of naming and tagging is repeated until everyone has been tagged.
Encourage people who are tagged to step back out of the group to ensure they don’t get tagged again.
Play several rounds to record the quickest time.
Video Transcript for Turbo Name-Game
presented by Mark Collard
This next exercise, let me describe it to you first of all. In a moment I’m going to ask you to have your eyes closed, and this is one of the first times I’ve asked you to do that as a group.
And with your eyes closed, I’m going to ask you to move into what I call the ‘Bumpers-Up’ position. It’s very similar to what you already know as spotting, that is with your elbows and your palms facing forward.
And with your eyes closed, in a moment but not yet, I’m going to ask you to sort of bunch into the centre and mingle about. You do it slowly. Clearly you’ve got your Bumpers Up, you are going to bump into people. And just move about. The idea is you’re not going to know where you are in relation to everybody else.
Challenge by Choice, you can choose to peek, have a look, or not. If you really are feeling uncomfortable because you may have your eyes closed for thirty or forty seconds, if you need to just look up out of the group so you’re not looking at the group if you need to refocus before you close your eyes and come back down again. Okay?
So in a moment I’m going to ask you to close your eyes, Bumpers Up, mingle. You’ll end up in a spot where you won’t know where you are. I’ll say ‘stop’. At that point, keep your eyes closed. You can then drop your hands because no one will be moving from that perspective.
And then using my famous stopwatch, I plan to time how long you can do this exercise. I’m going to come up and tap one person on the shoulder, just one of you will be tapped on the shoulder.
In this case I’m tapping Brian. Brian will then immediately open his eyes. So when I tap him I’m going to say Brian and tap him on the shoulder. He opens his eyes. He will then as fast as possible find someone, hopefully close to him, that he knows the name of, call their name and tap them on the shoulder.
Do not open your eyes until you’ve been tapped on the shoulder and you’ve heard your name called.
So in this case I say Brian. You could do it at the same time but you must have both of those things occur. Once both of them have occurred, open your eyes and now it’s your turn to find someone that you know the name of, quickly tap them on the shoulder, and the process continues until all eleven people have their eyes open and have had their names called.
(So you have to tap someone whose eyes are still closed?)
Yes, exactly. So what often happens is once you have had your eyes open and you have now tagged somebody, silently work your way out of the group so that way all those that are still left are the ones that have their eyes closed, although there is an alternative to that but for now that’s all you need to do. Got the idea?
So a real quick recap, in a moment, eyes closed, bunch up, stop, keep your eyes closed, put your hands down. I will tap someone randomly. At that point I will call that person’s name and tap them on the shoulder. They’ll open their eyes and the process continues from there.
Reset. Bumpers up. Eyes closed. Jump on in.
Be aware you are going to bump into people, so just take your time. Respect other people’s space. Try not to talk. And hold it there.
Okay, you can drop your arms. Keep your eyes closed. Everybody ready? Nick.
(people tagging each other as part of Turbo Name-Game)
Alright. Come on in. Pretty good.
We have a new world’s record, folks, beat it by 0.22 seconds. 20.28 seconds, so you beat the time. So it’s roughly twenty seconds. Well done. Excellent.
How To Play Narrative
Issue your group with blindfolds, or better still, just ask people to keep their eyes closed for what will likely be less than 10 seconds. Ask them to bunch together, with enough room for everyone to comfortably mingle with one another.
Once your group has plunged into darkness, invite them to move about the area slowly and silently, in the bumpers up position to prevent any embarrassing bumping-intos.
Once thoroughly mixed, ask everyone to stop where they are standing, drop their bumpers to their sides, open their eyes and not move from this position.
Explain that you will then approach one person at random and tap them on the shoulder, and simultaneously start your stopwatch to start timing the first round.
The person you tap will immediately move towards any other person whom they can quickly identify and name. Once named, they tap this person on the shoulder to start the process over again.
A tap on the shoulder of someone who has not been ‘named’ – either at all, or incorrectly – will result in an unofficial time, and a do-over.
Once a person has passed the tap on, encourage them to either crouch down or – better still – remove themselves from the group. The key is that only those folks who have not been tapped or called remain standing close to one another.
As the last person is tapped, stop the watch, and announce the recorded time.
Repeat the activity several times to achieve a nominal turbo name-game ‘world record.’
Practical Leadership Tips
Naturally, your group must possess a good level of name-knowingness to be successful and have fun with this game.
Observe how the imposition of a timed event causes ripples of anxiety as people struggle to name folks they have known for years.
Note, it is the tap on the shoulder (not the calling of their name) that triggers the next person to continue the process.
Technically, the recently-tagged person should call the name of the next person before tapping that person’s shoulder. However, your goal should determine your approach. If this game is only designed as a bit of fun, then close enough may be good enough. Yet, presented as a group initiative, you are entitled to be a little more ruthless.
Eyes Closed: As above, but everyone keeps their eyes closed until they are tagged.
Same Starter: With each round, identify one person to be the one who always initiates the start of the name-calling/tapping sequence, ie they will naturally be in a different spot within the group after each round’s mingling.
No Moving: Rather than move, ask the just-been-named to quickly call the name of any person they can identify only, ie no tapping of shoulders.
Group Challenge: Take a look at Speedy Name-Game to ramp up the challenge in the context of a group initiative.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Our performance is often affected when we find ourselves under pressure. Be it exams, practical tests, sporting finals, and so on, there’s something about knowing that we are under pressure that immediately impacts our results. This exercise will highlight this very phenomenon, but in a very small way – the ability to recall someone’s name in an instant…
Have a look around, do you think you could name everyone in the group? [allow a few moments…]. I’m betting that most of you said ‘yes’ to that question, because you do know everyone in the group. However, under pressure, could you remember everyone’s name in an instant? This next exercise will test this concept. Observe what happens when you discover yourself in this moment…
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 fast-paced name-game:
What did you notice or feel as soon as your shoulder was tapped? Why?
Did the pressure of a timed-event impact on your performance (recall of a name?)
Where else in your life or work does pressure or stress impact on your performance?
The inspiration for Turbo Name-Game, and many more innovative name-games, was sourced from the following publication: