Effective communication encompasses a variety of individual skills, including body language, clear speech, eye contact and active listening. Communication activities allow participants to focus on these skills and understand their impact on the effectiveness of communication. Effective communication activities work well for groups of all ages, including students in the classroom and co-workers in a workplace setting. Adapt these activities to fit the specific setting, ages and interests of the participants.
Providing oral instructions for a task or activity, without visual cues, forces participants to use precise language, emphasizing effective communication skills. Choose a task for the oral-instruction activity, such as drawing a picture or building a structure from blocks. Create an original picture or block structure. Allow one of the participants to see the picture or structure. This person offers oral instructions for the task, while the others follows the instructions exactly without seeing the original picture or structure. The activity forces the instructor to give specific steps using words to complete the task, which can be challenging for many people. Compare the result with the original to see how well the participants communicated.
Eye contact and body language influence communication between two people. This activity eliminates these two communication factors. Have the two participants sit back to back, and ask each person tell a story to his partner. After both partners have had a chance to tell a story, gather the participants and discuss the exercise. Ask the participants how the conversation was different from a normal conversation. Draw conclusions about the importance of eye contact and body language in effective communication.
This communication activity allows participants to assess listening skills. Without giving away the intent of the activity, begin reading a story with lots of details. Create a series of 10 to 15 questions about the story, making the questions very specific about details in the story. Pose the questions to the participants, asking them to record their answers on a sheet of paper. Reveal the answers to the questions and see if anyone answered all of them correctly. Discuss the reasons responses may be different.
The classic game of telephone provides an effective demonstration for communication. The idea behind the telephone game is to whisper a short story to the first person, who then whispers the story to the next person. This continues around the room until everyone has heard the story. The last participant repeats the story aloud, after which the original story is reread. Compare the two stories and discuss how the communication changed the story. Adapt the story to fit the age of the participants. For young children, use only one sentence. For older kids and adults, tell a story of at least five sentences.
The physical distance between the parties in a conversation impacts the overall communication effectiveness. Use a pair of volunteers to demonstrate this concept. Start with the participants facing each other, with only a few inches between them. Have the participants engage in a conversation about an event that occurred recently. Ask the others to observe how they interact. Move the two volunteers about 6 feet apart and have them engage in the conversation again. The observers should pay attention to how the communication changed. Move the two volunteers to opposite sides of the room, while continuing the conversation. Initiate a discussion about how the conversation changed as the participants moved farther apart. Focus on eye contact, voice volume and body language.