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Don't just make introductions, play The Name Game!

You’ve been in a group introduction circle before? How many names did you remember?

Whether you’re gathering different departments for a summit, are hosting a meeting with people who don't know each other, or are just introducing a new person at the office, you’ve been in a situation where you ask everyone to go around the table and say their name. It sounds like the right thing to do to make introductions, but you’ve been that new person before. Did you remember all 15 names? Unlikely.

Why not put a small twist on these group introductions and play The Name Game? Every Improv Effects group workshop starts out with this easy ice-breaker and - while it may seem a little silly - there’s sound reasoning behind it.

The Name Game works just like a regular group introduction, but each person must also say a positive word that starts with the letter of their first name. For example, a person might say, “I’m Denise and my positive word is Dynamic!” Keep in mind that the positive word does not have to reflect the speaker, it just needs to be positive.

Not only does this mnemonic device help with retention, it’s fun. Most importantly, however, it sets the tone for the meeting or gathering. When you set people in a good mood, focused on positive things, it yields better results for your meeting. Positivity opens doors for creativity, it aids in collaboration and it makes people more receptive to the ideas of others. Try it, and you’ll be amazed at how this one little tweak can significantly impact your gathering.


Get repetitive! Want to make sure the names stick? Have the group repeat the name and the word. “Hi, I’m Jason. I’ll use, um, joyful!” The rest of the group repeats, “Jason, Joyful!”

Get wacky! Want a variation for that interdepartmental holiday party? In addition to positive word, have each person do an action that is reflective of the word. The whole group then repeats this person’s name, word and action. “Alexis, Amazing!” (Alexis twirls and stops in a gymnast’s landing pose. The rest of the circle repeats, “Alexis, Amazing!” (They then twirl and stop in a gymnast’s landing pose.)

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