I’d like you now in each of your little groups to secretly huddle together and to identify one animal for the three of you, and in particular, a sound that would be associated with that animal.
Have a plan B up your sleeve, because we’ll need three unique animals and animal sounds in order to progress.
It’s been a secret to this point, we do now need to know what they are so that we ensure that they are all unique. So could you now just give us the sound of your animal, we’ll try to guess it.
Interesting, alright so we got a cheetah. Can I hear that with Sam one more time?
(Some discussion. Cheetah call.)
Okay, alright. This group here AJ all together give us the sound of your animal.
Oh, snake right? Thankfully. Okay and over here finally. And it goes?
Okay it’d probably need more than one.
Great, excellent, okay great. I want to invite you to do now is go just over that way maybe about…
(people walking as part of Hog Call)
In this next exercise folks, I’m going to invite you into the bumpers up position. That is in a moment I’m going to ask you to have your hand in front of you, elbows in, palms facing forward, and invite you to close your eyes.
So with your eyes closed I will then ask you to make the sound of your animal, and keep your eyes closed until you find both of your partner animals.
That is if you are the duck, you keep making the duck sound until you find your partners. Keep going until you find all three together. Once you’ve found each other you may then open you eyes, but not until that point.
So, you ready, eyes closed, bumpers up, and GO!
(Group make their animal calls until they find their partners as part of Hog Call.)
Yay! A couple things about that. Note, that I asked you to identify the animal before I told you what’re going to do.
If you telegraph it too early, then they are going to pick an animal that is much easier to find. And I think part of the beauty of this is that they actually don’t know what’s coming.
And so I’m laughing to myself when I hear, what the heck is that, and you’re going to have fun finding each other. Good luck.
So I’ve had elephants and whales, and there’s like this oooh, you know these really really small sounds. I’m thinking “Oh dude that’s going to be really hard to find each other,” but you can’t say anything, it’s all part of that adventure.
The other part too is again changing it up. I’ve used sounds here I’ll use it particularly in a corporate level, when I say corporate I don’t mean just corporations commercially it could be a school group of teachers or you know community organisations, but corporately as a group.
And where the pairs face off, and so for example if Scott and I are partners, I ask them to find what I call a word association. So we need to find two words that are associated to each other like Fish and Chips, Salt and Pepper, Peanut Butter.
But in a corporate setting from an intrinsic point of view you could just do it fun, but you could also say okay find a word that maybe reflects the strength of your organisation. And we might say ah we’re innovative.
So we decide the one word we have is Innovative, and then the activity just progresses normal. You know I go off this way, you go off that way, we turn around, eyes closed, and I’m saying innovative, innovative.
And of course it’s a cacophony of, you know, all sorts of other attributes and you know having to listen carefully. Not difficult with a group of nine, but with many, many more people. So you’re reinforcing some keys themes into your program, and again a simple way of changing the activity.
(discussion continues about Hog Call)
How To Play Narrative
You need pairs for this activity, so check out Getting Into Pairs and adopt a fun group-splitting technique.
Explain that you would like each pair to think of a favourite animal, and the typical sound associated with it. For example, a dog barks, and a cow moos.
After a few moments, ask each pair to announce the name and make the call of their animal to the whole group. This will allow everybody to enjoy the humour of the more inventive selections, as well as ensure that there are no duplications.
Using a random technique to split the pairs, ask one person to move to one side of your wide, open playing space, and the other partner to move to the opposite side. If possible, aim to use a space that will provide for at least 25 metres (80′) between each group.
When each group arrives at their destination, ask them to turn away from their partner, shuffle themselves left and right a little(without turning around to locate their partner) and close their eyes. Have you got the idea yet?
Once all eyes are shut, ask everyone to place their hands in the bumpers up position.
Check that eyes are closed, hands are up, and announce “GO!”
The aim for each person is to find their partner by calling the noise of their animal only. In theory, each pair of animals will be making the same call and will work hard to hear and walk towards one another in the cacophony of barnyard sounds.
When the pairs finally find one another, invite them to open their eyes and enjoy watching the melee of hog-calling around them. It is customary to applaud the final two people when they discover each other!
Practical Leadership Tips
Deliver all of the vital instructions before you ask the two groups to move to their respective areas – otherwise, they may find it hard to hear you.
Invariably, there are one or two pairs whom will choose a relatively mute animal, such as a giraffe, fish or even a sloth! These partners will clearly be the last ones to be found. If this sounds like fun for your group, great. Otherwise, encourage these pairs (for their own good) to consider a more noisy animal.
This exercise ideally focuses on the difficulty of hearing a message when everyone is talking at the same time. To this end, upon its conclusion, I often invite my group to consider what principles of effective communication does the activity highlight. Refer to some further suggestions in the Reflections tab.
You should resist the urge to participate in the exercise. As everyone will have their eyes closed, you need to observe the action to keep people safe (and not wander out onto the highway,) not to mention keep an eye out for unkind behaviours.
Naturally, with eyes closed, your group is more vulnerable than normal. To this end, (a) consider the sequence of your lead-in activities and (b) observe the behaviour of your group to ensure the ‘safety’ of your group at all times. That is to say, while it may be funny to watch one poor soul get lead astray by the actions of someone other than their partner calling out their name, this behaviour will immediately diminish any trust held within the group.
You can probably imagine why the activity is called Hog Call now.
Word Associations: Each pair identifies a set of two words which are associated, such as salt + pepper, Coca + Cola and peanut + butter. Name each person after one of the words. Only this word is called by their partner in an effort to locate them in the blind confusion.
Significant Words: Use words that are significant and/or relevant to your group, such as positive attributes of the organisation, or strengths of the team, etc. In this case, partners will share the same word.
Whisper Calls: If you’re in a location where shouting would be disruptive, try the whisper method. That is, partners can only locate one another by whispering their words/sounds. It’s ludicrous, functional and funny.
Small Teams: Invite groups of three or four people to start from different corners of your playing space using an agreed ‘hog call’ to locate one another.
Take a look at Mute Line-Up and Izzat You? to enjoy two introductory group initiatives which also focus on effective communication skills.
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Useful Framing Ideas
There are many principles of effective communication, such as speak slowly and clearly so that you can be understood. Sage advice. Another equally important principle will be highlighted in this next exercise…
Have you ever been in a noisy crowded room, and could not hear yourself think, let alone conduct a conversation? It’s times like these I wish I could communicate using sign language, because it would still be possible to be ‘heard’ even if I was communicating with someone halfway across the room. Yet, remarkably, despite the din, it is sometimes possible to shut out all of the extraneous noise and focus in on the voice of the one person you are having a conversation with. Let’s put this unique skill 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 simple, trust-building group initiative:
How easy was it to hear your partner’s calls? Why?
How did it feel to locate your partner?
Once you could open your eyes, what did you notice about other partners still looking for each other?
What might this exercise teach us about communicating effectively?
The inspiration for Hog Call, and many more fun and engaging trust-building exercises, was sourced from the following publication: