This activity works best with medium- to large-sized groups and can be used in training programs from a half-day and longer in duration. This icebreaker works best if participants are grouped in a large circle.
Help participants learn each other's names via a quick, low-threat icebreaker.
Name at least 50% of all other participants in the training.
The name game is simple, safe, and effective for most training audiences. It should be avoided in mixed trainings where groups with historical conflict are brought into the same room. In such cases, the failure to remember someone else's name can become a "critical incident" and a source for continued polarization.
While The Name Game is generally time-efficient, larger groups will require more time. Allot at least ten minutes for smaller groups (5 to 12 participants). Double the time for greater than twelve participants.
- Explain to participants that you are going to ask them to play "The Name Game." You will ask each person to introduce themselves, going person-to-person either clockwise or counter-clockwise around the group. Each person will be asked to introduce themselves by giving at least their name, their affiliation, and an interesting topic of choice (either you pick a topic such as 'Your ideal vacation..." or playfully ask the group-as-a-whole what they'd like to know about each other).
- The main task for each person in The Name Game is to remember enough about each person so they could start from the beginning of the group and remember the names of all those who had introduced themselves thus far. Remind participants they are not to take notes during The Name Game.
- Begin the introductions. After three or four people have introduced themselves, ask for a volunteer to name all those who had introduced themselves so far.
- Pepper your facilitation of The Name Game with liberal amounts of appreciation and acknowledgment. Clapping is encouraged!
- A nice variation of The Name Game is to break after someone has named all everyone else in the group, and encourage people to break up into "affinity groups" with others they'd like to talk with. In these smaller groups, any number of light topics can be used to help participants get to know each other a bit better.
- Minimal (or non-existent) processing of this icebreaker is most appropriate.