That’s something you might not often think about but I’ll challenge you to think about it now. Would you be able to talk about a random topic for an entire minute without repeating yourself, deviating from the topic or hesitating even once? That’s the idea behind the British panel game Just A Minute. Four panelists are challenged to talk about whatever subject come up on a card for one minute. One panelist begins and the others wait for them to mess up so they can jump in and talk for the remaining time. It’s been a radio and television show in Britain for almost 50 years and is hosted by Nicholas Parsons.
The game has featured a variety of panelists over the years, from authors to comedians and late night hosts, but you don’t need to be a British celebrity to play. You can do this with your friends right now, and I’ll tell you how!
Get a group of your friends together, ideally 5-10 people but there’s no maximum to how many can play. Pick one person to host and have them come up with a number of topics.
Select one person to start and reveal the first topic. When the first person begins talking the host begins counting down from 60 seconds. The rest of the players listen and can “buzz in” and object if they hear the speaker do one of the following things:
Hesitate - the speaker can’t hesitate in their speech and must continue talking for the whole time, this would include hovering on words and saying “ummmm”
Deviate – the speaker can’t go off topic
Repeat themselves – the only words the speaker can repeat are the ones on the topic card, for example, the topic is “unwanted presents”. The speaker could use the word “present” as many times as they like but if they said the word “give” more than once then someone could object.
All objections are then judged by the host. If an objection is successful then the objecting player gets 1 point and becomes the speaker. They must then speak for whatever time is left in the minute. Whoever is talking when the minute is up also receives a point. Then a new topic is given and a new round starts. Keep playing for as long as you want and tally up the points when you’re done.
It’s fun, and not as easy as it may seem. I guarantee you’ll surprise yourself and maybe learn a few things about your friends. If you want to see how it’s done just head to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006s5dp. You can check out clips and full episodes of the show.
Give it a try the next time you’ve got a group together and remember, you’ve only got a minute.