This is a fun exercise focusing on word play where the delegates need to converge on a common word based on previously suggested words. When convergence happens, it is immensely enjoyable. The pair feel as if they read each other’s minds. As such, this is a great exercise to bring people closer together. You can also use this exercise as an icebreaker though make sure you don’t run it for longer than 15 minutes.
Consider using this exercise for team building, enhancing vocabulary, creativity and memory. It is also a fantastic exercise for practicing a foreign language as delegates must constantly think of new words in a systematic way and since they get to work in teams, they can learn from each other too. You can also run this easily explained exercise for a large group as teams work in parallel without much impact on timing.
Suggest a new word based on previous words until you converge on a single word and win the round.
What You Need
Blanks cards or paper cut to the size of a business card. You may need hundreds depending on the number of delegates.
- Divide delegates into pairs.
- Make a stack of cards available to all to use as needed.
- Ask each person in each pair to think of a word and write it on a card without the other person seeing it.
- Allocate about 5 seconds for this.
- Say: “Reveal!”
- On your mark the players should reveal their cards and state the chosen word. It is likely that they will be different.
- Ask delegates to put their cards face up in front of them.
- Next turn, they should both think of a word that bridges the previous two words. This new word should be clearly related to both previous words or combine them in some way.
- They should write this word on a new card while not allowing the other person to see it.
- Say, “Reveal!”, and they should all reveal their new cards and state the words aloud.
- They must now have come up with words that are getting closer to each other conceptually.
- Ask delegates to place their cards face up on previous corresponding cards.
- Move on to the next turn and repeat.
- As a rule, players cannot use a word that has already been used in this round. The focus should be only on the last two words used which are currently face up in front of them.
- Gradually they should converge on the same word. The round finishes when they have both written the same word on their cards and declare it in unison! They will experience magical joy when this happens (like jumping up and down) and of course the sooner this happens the more magical it feels.
- Here is an example of words two people came up with at each turn. They each then tried to bridge the two words and came up with a new word for the next turn based on the previous two. Read as Player 1 - Player 2:
- Scarf - Bike
- Jacket - Washing
- Soap - Basket
- Pegs - Container
- Utility Room - Plastic
- Bin - Bin [WIN, Hooray]
- Allocate a fixed number of turns for each round so that the round lasts 3-5 minutes. This highly depends on your delegates, their age and language abilities.
- You will notice that sometimes as pair get closer to convergence, they choose new words that push them away and they then must go through a few more rounds to come back closer to convergence.
- After the round is finished, mix up the pairs. You can use the clock buddies tool to automate the mixing process and also make it more fun.
- Repeat with another round.
- Continue swapping partners and keep having more rounds for the duration of the time you want to allocate for this exercise.
- Follow with a discussion.
Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes
Activity: Depends on how many rounds you want to run and the delegates’ abilities. Run as many rounds as you can for your allocated time.
Group Feedback: 2 minutes
When you first learned about the exercise, did you think it was going to be difficult to converge? Did you get quicker in subsequent rounds? What do you think caused a round to be exceptionally quick or slow to converge? Were there instances where you could not converge at all within the allocated time?
Make it Competitive:
You can run this exercise as a competition in various ways:
- After the allocated time for each round, any pair that has not converged is eliminated. Mix up the remaining contestants and continue to the next round. Continue until only one pair remains and declare them as the winner.
- Decide on the number of rounds and let the delegates know. Each person gets a score equivalent to the number of turns in each round before converging. Get them to count the number of cards each played in this round and that will be their scores. Add these scores up for all rounds. The delegate with the least total score wins. For example, in a round, Person A and B converge after 6 turns. Person C and D couldn’t converge before the time ran out though they went through 8 turns. So the scores are: A=5, B=5, C=8, D=8. Next round, pairs are mixed up. A and C converge after 4 turns while B and D converge after 7 turns. For this round the scores are: A=4, B=7, C=4, D=7. If you finish the game in two rounds, the total scores will be: A=9, B=12, C=12, D=15. Declare Person A as the winner.
Make it Challenging:
- Give each person a unique domain when they pick their first words. After that the game continues as normal. This way, you can make the domains as far apart from each other as possible hoping to make the exercise more challenging, though of course this cannot be guaranteed. Here are some example domains wide apart; even when remixed, they remain relatively apart:
- Geography vs. Beauty Therapy
- Lasers vs. Dinosaurs
- Painting vs. Badminton
- Corporate Training vs. Music
- Rather than pairs, use three people in each group. They all need to converge on a single word. As you can imagine this can be tough.