I think doing name tags properly transforms a meeting. Here's why:
a. people don't really know everyone, even if they think they do.
b. if you don't know someone's name, you are hesitant to talk to them.
c. if you don't talk to them, you never get to know them and you both lose.
d. if you are wearing a name tag, it's an invitation to start a conversation.
One summer, I led 90 people, some strangers to each other, through a three-day training. Every single person had to wear a hat with his or her name on it until every person in the group knew every other person's name and could prove it. It took two days. Worth it.
Doing a name tag right isn't easy. Here are my rules:
a. BIG first name
b. positioned in a place where you can see it
c. ideally two-sided, on a short lanyard (why on earth would you make a one-sided lanyard tag?)
d. a piece of information that is an ice breaker. Here's my latest example. Every single sticker had a different picture. No real logic behind it. But what if there was? What if attendees picked their favorite movie star, metaphor, state capital, political gaffe, Saturday Night Live skit... anything worth talking about?
Mormon evangelists all wear name tags. Great idea. Doctors used to. Too bad they don't. Now it's almost like a Prisoner thing, where the only purpose of the tag is to enable you to tattle on someone who doesn't give you good service.