Distribute a length of tubular webbing (or ribbon) to each small group.
By way of demonstration, describe the unique method you would like each person to share a story.
Starting with one end of the webbing between your thumb and index finger, wind the webbing around your index finger as you share your story.
Keep winding the webbing, and keep sharing, until all of the webbing has been wound around your finger.
Upon completing your story, pass the tightly bound webbing to the person on your left, to resume the story-telling process.
In the allotted time, ask a volunteer in each small group to start wrapping and sharing.
Continue until everyone has shared their story.
Video Transcript for Wrapped Around My Finger
presented by Mark Collard
I’ll give you a demonstration of what’s about to occur within your little groups of three. In a moment you’re about to go grab one of those colourful pieces off to the side. The object is one person will simply start. It won’t matter who that person is.
And I’ll place the tape on one end of their finger, and their object is to be able to run this all the way around their finger, just keep going around one finger, and it gets bigger and bigger and bigger as it binds around their finger.
But the key is that as you are binding, as you’re actually wrapping it around your finger, you simply tell a story but it needs to involve you in the story. It doesn’t matter how it is. We’re not suggesting you make up a story. We’re not saying once-upon-a-time-type fairy tale. It needs to involve you, and it may involve an experience or just something about you with the rest of your group, in this case a group of two other people.
So for example, hi, my name is Mark. I live in the Yarra Valley, a little place called Launching Place, in a gorgeous little two-bedroom mud-brick home.
A couple of weeks ago I was working up at Thornton, at the Rubicon Outdoor Centre. And I was particularly confident of this program, I was going to work with about 120 teachers, and I locked my car very close to where the venue was, and then I was going to go off to lunch.
So before I actually got myself ready, I actually had the car unlocked, I put everything in the car, so it was quite close to where the venue was. And then I left my keys in the car thinking that that was a good idea. I don’t have to carry everything with me to lunch. I came back to the car and the car was locked with my keys on the inside.
I do not understand how that occurred, it just did, and ten minutes to go our program was about to start with everything I needed for my program inside the car. At which point, I needed to call the RACV and 242 dollars later and half an hour into my program, the car was open.
I’ve now come to the end of my wrap. Now I haven’t done a particularly good job. Some people are particularly anal, in that they like to actually create something very perfect about this.
Then when you get to the end of your tape, your time finishes, and then you have the joy of passing this on to another person, and they have the intense joy of taking the end of it, and then as best as possible, doing this. It runs out, and it looks really cool. That wasn’t a particularly good one, but you can get the idea.
And then of course it moves on to the next person. They then start with their story. Got the basic idea? Start when you’re ready. Grab yourself a coloured piece of rope. Off you go. Do you guys want the red one?
You’ve got it.
(people practising Wrapped Around My Finger.)
How To Play Narrative
You’ll need to grab (or prepare) a set of approx 5 metre (16′) lengths of tubular webbing or ribbon, enough for one per small group of 2 to 5 people.
You could involve more people in each small group, but to be honest, this exercise works much better with fewer people, rather than more.
Having formed a series of random groups (see Getting into Teams for some fun ideas,) distribute one length of webbing to each group.
The best way to introduce this exercise is to demonstrate it.
Ask your group to gather around you, and taking one end of the ribbon or webbing between your thumb and index finger, explain that you are about to share a story. Importantly, explain that as you are sharing your story, you will wrap the ribbon around your index finger.
You can invite people to share about any topic, but in the context of ‘getting-to-know-you’ purposes, I would suggest that you ask people to share something about themselves. Anything, they get to choose, but they need to be the central character, so to speak.
The key is to keep sharing until the webbing has been completely wound around the finger. At which point, you pass the tightly-bound webbing to the person on your left.
The sharing and passing continues until everyone has shared.
Practical Leadership Tips
Tubular webbing works best (because it has a wide, flat edge,) and once a part of your props bag, you’ll find it to be extremely versatile. You can source tubular webbing from most outdoor equipment stores.
Flat lengths of ribbon work just as well, and at a push, so does string, but as string does not have a flat edge, it doesn’t wrap quite as well.
Note, when I say ‘story’ I do not mean something which begins with “Once upon a time…” Just encourage people to share, anything, they get to choose – this is what makes the sharing safe, and therefore, possible.
The key ingredient to the success of this activity is that people are encouraged to keep sharing until they have wrapped the entire length of the webbing around their finger. With a 5 metre (15′) length, you can expect at least 1-2 minutes of sharing – significantly more than if you simply asked people to introduce themselves.
If you’re working with young people, you are well advised to distribute the webbing after you have demonstrated the exercise, lest they get very distracted by holding this infinitely useful prop.
With thanks to Jim Cain who showed me this fun exercise during his first visit to Australia. Simple, unique and fun.
An interesting note: we all know that the #1 fear most people hold is public speaking, and worse still, when they are invited to speak about themselves. We also know that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time (multi-tasking is a myth.) Add these two facts together, and it is believed that when a person who is frightened to speak publicly is given something to do with their hands as they speak, the fear of speaking often dissipates. Why? Because, in the case of this exercise, as you wind the webbing around your finger, your brain is focused on the action of winding and not on the fear it was concerned about only moments before the individual starting sharing. Cool.
One & Off: For an extra-long share, ask each person to wind the webbing onto their finger, and then off.
Roll-Out Finish: For a bit of fun, ask the person who has just shared to unfurl or unwind the tightly-bound webbing from their finger, by rolling it away from themselves along the floor (you’ll need to hang onto the outside end to get this right.) For an extra challenge, roll it between the wide-out-stretched legs of the next story-teller. Great fun, and it often produces hilarious results as the unpredictable webbing rolls any which way.
Structured ice-breaker for in-person & virtual gatherings.
Classic name-game with fun, energetic movements.
Interactive name card game with friendly competition.
Useful Framing Ideas
When people are asked to share a little about themselves – this experience can often fall into one of two categories – either they talk for too long, or they talk for too little. This exercise involves a unique method of measuring the length of time someone may talk about themselves…
Did you know that multi-tasking is actually a myth? Research has proven that the brain can only perform one task at a time. This means, that people who are often regarded as multi-taskers, are actually just very good at switching very quickly between multiple tasks. With this in mind, consider the fear most people have for public speaking. Often these people can be crippled by the fear of having to talk in front of others, yet, as soon as they start talking, their fear disappears or at least dissipates, because, the brain is forced to focus on something else (the talking, not the fear thereof.) This next exercise puts this theory to the test…
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 sharing exercise:
How easy was it to share as you wrapped the webbing around your finger?
Did you get to the end of the webbing quicker or slower than you thought? Why?
Did you feel less self-conscious to share (than normal) in this exercise?
The inspiration for Wrapped Around My Finger was sourced from the following publication: