Charades on Steroids

Fun story-telling activity everybody loves.

 Team Building
 Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Having Fun, Problem Solving
6 – 15 minutes
1 – 8, 9 – 16, 17 – 30, 31+
Children, Youth, Adults

Step by Step Instructions

  • Assemble a group together looking onto your “performance area”.
  • Select five volunteers from the group and get them to stand in a straight line. They must face side-on to the spectators and back to back with each other, about 1 meter apart.
  • You, as the facilitator, must touch the first person in line on the shoulder and get him/her to turn around and face you.
  • Now, you as the “storyteller” start by miming a story for around 30 seconds,
    making use of as many imaginary props as possible. Try to tell the story with
    loads of actions and plenty of complex movements.
  • The “storyteller” is limited, as they are not permitted to speak and can only act out or mime the story.
  • Apart from the first person who was touched on the shoulder and also the
    spectators, none of the other members in line observed the story.
  • As soon as you have finished telling the story, the first member now touches the next person in the line on the shoulder. They must now repeat the story to them, also only using actions and movements.
  • Continue with this process down the line until the last member in line has a turn.
  • The “storyteller” is only allowed to act out the story one time.
  • To add more fun after everybody has had a turn, let each of the participating
    members explain exactly what they think they observed.
  • In the end, you as the “storyteller” can now re-enact the story as it was at the

How to Play

Most groups of people love to play Charades. The game “Charades on Steroids” is a
variation where you have players standing in a line. Let the group gather together and make themselves at home, then choose five volunteers from the group to join you in what is referred to as “the performance area”.

In the “performance area” let the volunteers stand in a straight line looking away from the center of the area. They must stand about 1 meter apart, looking at the back of the person standing in front of them. From the spectator’s view, the people standing in the line will be facing side-on.

The facilitator must touch the first person in front of them on the shoulder. Then ask them to turn around to face them. The function of the first person will be to observe the facilitator, as the “story-teller”. The first person will then be required to repeat the complete story to the next member, exactly as they observed it.

You, as the “story-teller”, are only allowed to mime the story and are not permitted to use any verbal communication. For this game to work properly you need to provide a lot of different actions, which will include complex movements. You can also use as many imaginary props you can come up with.

Here is an example of a story that may help you:

You walk into the “performance area” dangling a large bag over your shoulder. You stop and take a chair and a fishing rod from the bag. You sit on the chair, light a pipe, and cast your line into the water, sit back and relax. All of a sudden, your fishing rod starts to bend, and you jump up and excitedly attempt to reel the line in. After a long battle, you appear to be very frustrated as you observe only a broken shoe at the end of your line. After pouring the water out of the shoe you slip the shoe on your foot and leave the area. This is the end of the story…

The spectators, the facilitator and the person who was touched on the shoulder, are the only ones who observed the story. You, after completing the story, take a seat and the first volunteer must then touch the next person in the line on the shoulder. They must then retell the story to the next person exactly as they remember it. You will be amazed to find that only 60% of the story will be true, while the remaining 40% will be fabricated. Here is where entertainment and fun come in.

The members in line continue with the “storytelling” process until everyone in line has had a turn. Just as in “Chinese Whispers”, the story will become distorted as it
progresses down the line.

While this process is unfolding, the spectators are allowed to laugh (this will become unavoidable) but need to refrain from indicating where the story is going wrong. They can relax and enjoy the fun. The laughter that comes from playing this game, in most cases, can be overwhelming.

As soon as the last or fifth person in line has had an opportunity to retell the story, most of the fun and laughter will be winding down. The participating members will be very interested in finding out what exactly the true “story” is and how things went wrong.

The game ends when you, as the “storyteller”, act out the entire true story again in
front of everyone. Everybody would have had a lot of fun and others in the group will want to try their hand at “Charades on Steroids”. You will have to appoint a further five volunteers and will need to start over again with a new story.


  • Extremely fun
  • Encourages creativity
  • Supports effective communication
  • Refines observation skills
  • No props

Useful Framing Ideas

Have you ever had the pleasure of playing “Chinese Whispers” before? For those new to the game, one person will start and whisper something to the person next to them. This person will then whisper to somebody next to them, and so you continue all the way around the group. Almost always, by the time the story has gone around the group, it is completely different from the original story. This can be loads of fun and just goes to prove how hard it is to convey information accurately.

Here is an example of this game for you to try:

Stand in front of a group of people, say about 10, and speak for only one minute. In
most cases, after you finish talking, every one of the 10 people will have heard
something slightly different. At first, it may seem strange that they all heard something slightly different than what you said because they all heard the same message. However, this is a proven fact and also applies to our storytelling.

Practical Leadership Tips

The game of “Charades on Steroids” is a very well-liked activity and can be used for an evening of fun and “community-building”. You need to introduce the game to the group at the right moment during your program. Make sure that you select at least 5 volunteers from the group, as they will have no idea what is about to happen.

Be careful of the order of events during your program leading up to the selection of this activity. The group should prepare themselves for loads of fun and laughter. Make note that the entire story should last no longer than 30 seconds, as the “storytellers” job will become more difficult the longer it lasts.

Instruct the volunteers that are turned away from the action, that they should not be tempted to turn around and take a peek at the proceedings. All they will experience is the laughter of the spectators but need to be patient and wait for their turn. The “storyteller” must ensure that they only perform once and not more, as they may
get requests from the spectators to repeat the story.

Reflections, Tips & Strategies

Here are some questions to ask the group, which will help them to process their
experience of the game “Charades on Steroids”:

  • As part of the spectators, how much fun and laughter did you experience while
    observing the re-telling of the story by the volunteers?
  • As part of the member volunteer line, how did you feel like the storytelling
  • Did you learn anything g about effectively conveying information from this

Popular Variations

  • Double Act: Select two lines of volunteers, let the first two people in line mime
    out a story to the pair that have turned around. If you have time, you can allow
    the first pair to work on their own story they wish to mime. On the other hand,
    you can just allow them to improvise and create a story spontaneously.
  • Occupations: Get the person who is to mime the story to choose a certain
    occupation. For example, dentists, plumber, or baker etc. Then, at the end of
    the activity, get the volunteers to associate the story that was mimed with the