Cheap but effective name tags

It’s almost embarrassing to write this blog post! Such a simple thing… but we’ve seen this done so badly over the years, we thought it was worth putting a short post together. What are we talking about? Name tags of course!

We’ve all been to a workshop or conference, and had the dubious pleasure of not remembering the name of the person we’re chatting to and finding it almost impossible to read the name tag because it’s too small, covered up, or my pet hate, hanging on a lanyard that is so long you have to awkwardly look well below eye level and if they’re sitting down, it might hang below the table and be totally invisible. Sometimes you just can’t read that name on the name tag! 

Often people think that doing things “properly” means printing things out and making them look really neat. While we do think that is important at times, when it comes to name tags, sometimes the simple ideas are the best. Here’s a few tips from us… 

Firstly if you’re going to print out name tags – make sure the person’s first name is large and readable at three paces! Often there’s a whole lot of information crammed onto name tags: first and last name, organisation, location and of course a few logos to fill in any empty space. I think it’s important to keep it simple and have an easy-to-read first name. So make it large and bold, use upper and lower case text (because that is easier to read), and have it on its own line towards the top of the name tag. Check to see who has the longest first name and make that fit on one line, and then use that size for all the others.

In fact, sometimes it’s not all that important to print things out. Just grab a roll of 24 mm masking tape and a black sharpie (what others might call a permanent marker!) and write out name tags on the spot as people arrive. You can write along the tape while it’s still on the roll, and then tear it off. Some people prefer to cut them into equal lengths and stick them on a table top and then write the names there and then peel them off. You can get people to write them out themselves, or, as you’re introducing yourself, you can ask them their name and how it is spelt. That way everyone has the same name tag. 

Masking tape is surprising good at sticking on most fabric, without leaving sticky marks or holes. And the best part is that you can get people to put them high up high on their chests, so the labels are always easy to read. 

Denise has a colleague who uses the same approach and she told the story of having a visitor to their group one day and they wrote out a name tag on masking tape and gave it to the visitor. He commented that he felt like he was part of the group – he had the same name tag as the rest! And that helped set things up for success as he could slot into the group with no problems.

Another tip is that if you do print out name tags for lanyards, then make them the same on both sides. Lanyards have a habit of twisting themselves around and if the tags are one sided – even if they are nice and clear – you still end up with the problem of not being able to see the name!

And now you can even get fabric printed name tags! These are made by Avery (and are available at Officeworks stores, though there are probably similar ones made by other companies available at other stores too). They come in sheets of 8 labels per A4 page and you can put them through a laser printer. Alternatively, you can just write on them with permanent markers. They’re just like the paper labels only they’re fabric and they stick really well to clothing, unlike the paper ones which often peel off after an hour or so. They do look good, but they are a lot more expensive than good old masking tape! 

We’ve covered a lot of ground, but name tags are a useful item, so it’s worth doing them well.

You’ve read our thoughts, now we’d like to read yours! Add a comment below this blog post and tell us your experiences with name tags! What’s worked for you? Any tips or ideas? We don’t want this to just be a one-way conversation – join in by sharing your thoughts with us! 

Thanks for reading this Enablers of change episode. Remember to subscribe if you’d like to know when new episodes are available. 

Resources

Fabric labels: https://www.officeworks.com.au/shop/officeworks/p/avery-8up-fabric-laser-name-badge-labels-15-sheets-av959171

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Geoff Kuehne
Geoff Kuehne
1 year ago

Great article John! Often conference name tags are next to useless.
The only thing I’d add is to ask people what name they want on their tag.

Noel Ainsworth
Noel Ainsworth
1 year ago

A Great little video team. It’s all about being proactive.

Linda Peacock
Linda Peacock
1 year ago

Thanks..love the simplicity. Thinking a sharpie and tape also save the day when you embarrasingly forget your own business name tag!!. The read at three paces rule is a great tip…helps people seamlessly join in on a conversation. Keep them coming !

Denise Bewsell
Denise Bewsell
1 year ago
Reply to  Linda Peacock

Thanks Linda!
A sharpie and tape can definitely save the day – we made do with duct tape and a white pen for one workshop so it is nice and versatile.
Denise.

Tony Watson
Tony Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Denise Bewsell

I’ve pretty much used this every time since you introduced the idea Denise!
Duct tape + Sharpie = Nametag with built in icebreaker. It works a treat!

Denise
Denise
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Watson

That’s great to hear Tony!

Fiona Chandler
Fiona Chandler
1 year ago

Thanks John. You’ve nailed one of my favourite (ok OCD) elements as a facilitator. Timing and group size permitting I will personally write out each name tag. I will try and greet every person as they enter, say hi, make them feel welcome and by writing out their name I have a better chance of remembering it and spelling it right I often go for first name only as big and bold as I can fit in a standard name tag. I joke that it is so I can read it from the front of the room – but it’s… Read more »

Mandi MCLEOD
Mandi MCLEOD
1 year ago

All good points John. I prefer to write the tags as it helps me to remember participants and prevents the embarrassment of those who either have unreadable handwriting or are illiterate.

mandi mcleod
mandi mcleod
1 year ago
Reply to  John James

You can run, but you can’t hide from me John! Working with so many farmer groups as I do, I find that many older men are uncomfortable with writing their own name because of their handwriting and it also saves me from trying to read handwriting like my Dad’s – akin to a deranged fly having a panic attack on paper 🙂

Jacob Betros
Jacob Betros
1 year ago

Hey John,
Any comment on the type of lanyard? One hook, two hooks? Two hooks help a little bit in the flipping about in the wind doesn’t it?

David Jago
1 year ago

Good stuff John. In Beijing, my 0.0 Mandarin characters just don’t cut it. So I get folks to write their own.

Toni White
Toni White
1 year ago

Great post Denise and John. I love name tags as they help me as a facilitator avoid awkward moments when I am working with a new group I don’t know well. Awesome suggestions.

Denise Bewsell
Denise Bewsell
1 year ago
Reply to  Toni White

Thanks Toni! And we agree – so handy as a facilitator!