In this exercise delegates get to form a line based on the order of their birthdays without talking. It provides an opportunity for nonverbal communication, self-organisation, nominating a leader if necessary and quick decision making.
Form a line as quickly as you can based on the order of your birthdays using only non-verbal communication.
What You Need
- Ask the delegates to move to a clear area where they can easily form a straight line.
- Explain that the objective is to form a line based on their birthdays in a year. For example, those born in February are first, followed by someone in May, and more people in June and so on. Ignore the year they were born.
- The challenge is that they cannot talk or write to each other. They will need to use nonverbal communication.
- State that their performance will be timed. This will add pressure to act quickly.
- Ask the group as a whole to declare when they have made their line correctly. They may choose to nominate a spokesperson for this. Leave this to them as they need to figure it out on their own.
- Start the exercise on your mark.
- Allocate a maximum of 10 minutes for this exercise or until they form a straight line.
- Once the group confirms that it has formed a line, ask the first person at the front of the line to state his/her birthday. This should then be followed by the next in line until the end of the line to check if everyone got the sequence of birthdays right.
- Announce their timing and compare their performance to previous groups of similar size.
- Follow with a discussion.
Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes
Activity: 10 minutes
Group Feedback: 5 minutes
Were you happy with your performance as a group? Did you lose time unnecessarily? Do you think you can do better if you had a second chance?
You can make the task very challenging by using a simple modification; ask them to go through the exercise while blindfolded. Of course, you need to do this in an empty room with no furniture as it is important to keep everyone safe. They now have to form a line in the right order without seeing each other and without being able to talk. It can certainly be amusing to watch!
If this proves too difficult, you can vary it by not giving blindfolds to one or more members while others are blindfolded. Those who can see can guide those who cannot.