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Communication Skills Icebreakers and Energisers

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Everything you need to help participants improve their communication skills, covering things like effective questioning, active listening and effective use of skills such as summary and clarification.


 

All Change! - How We React to Change

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 5 minutes.

Aims:• To explore the effects and reactions to change when communication is limited.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 5 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To explore the effects and reactions to change when communication is limited.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
Nothing.

Notes:
Avoid the temptation to brief this exercise in any way.

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Assumptions - The Witches of Glum

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 30 minutes.

Aims:
• To check listening skills.
• To illustrate the dangers of making assumptions.
• To provoke discussion about prejudices and stereotypes.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module (longer for larger groups or where you want to explore some of the learning in more detail).

Aims:
• To check listening skills.
• To illustrate the dangers of making assumptions.
• To provoke discussion about prejudices and stereotypes.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of any size. It is possible to use this exercise in conference situations as well as more usual training interventions like courses and workshops.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing extra is required if you intend to read the story to your participants. However, working in partnership with Trainers' Library members, Voices for Trainers (www.voicesfortrainers.co.uk), we've added a professional recording of the story, which can really add to the experience. The recording can be downloaded and played as an MP3 file on any compatible equipment, including, for example, a laptop or iPod.

Notes:
This module can be used as an icebreaker or short exercise in a variety of situations. It is particularly effective when used as an icebreaker or short exercise in equal opportunities and diversity training, where it can be used to illustrate how powerful stereotypes can be. The exercise can also be used in other situations too, for example:
• In a call centre environment, where making assumptions about the nature of a customer’s problem could lead to greater problems finding a solution.
• To show how important questions are for checking understanding and avoiding assumptions being made.

This module has been endorsed by Show Racism the Red Card. For more information about the great work this charity is doing to educate against racism, visit www.srtrc.org.

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Bingo! - An Exercise in Communication

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To help participants identify things they have in common with one another.
• To show the benefits of building rapport to create effective working relationships.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to run. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To help participants identify things they have in common with one another.
• To show the benefits of building rapport to create effective working relationships.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• Bingo cards. (We've provided some.)
• A small prize for the winning participant is a nice touch, but not essential.

Notes:
We have provided pre-prepared bingo cards, but feel free to adapt them to meet the specific needs of your participants.

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Bingo Cards

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Feelings Cards - Icebreakers

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To introduce participants to one another.
• To encourage participants to share their perceptions of the organisation they work for.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 5 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To introduce participants to one another.
• To encourage participants to share their perceptions of the organisation they work for.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the materials provided.

Notes:
You will need to create a set of Feelings Cards for each person.

The Feelings Cards can be used in many different ways and for many different situations. These notes explain three ways of using them in a simple icebreaker. Two slightly more complex training exercises are explained in Course Modules.

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Feelings Cards

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Getting Knotted - Working Together to Solve a Challenge

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 30 minutes.

Aims:
• To test participants’ abilities to work together and solve a problem

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to run. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To test participants’ abilities to work together and solve a problem

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of between 6 and 24 participants.

You'll Need:
Two lengths of string (approximately 30cm long) for each participant.

Notes:
This exercise involves bending and twisting and may not be suitable for all participants. Please remind participants to take care in this exercise.

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Getting To Know You - Networking and Communication

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 45 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to mix and get to know each other.
• To encourage the use of questioning and listening skills.
• To help participants identify things they have in common with others on the course.
• To help participants identify others on the course who can help them.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 30 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to mix and get to know each other.
• To encourage the use of questioning and listening skills.
• To help participants identify things they have in common with others on the course.
• To help participants identify others on the course who can help them.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This icebreaker provides a useful introduction to lots of different training courses. It can be particularly useful as an introduction to training that covers networking and communication skills.

We've created a 'general' version of this game but you might like to adapt it to be more course specific. For example, in assertiveness training, one box could be labelled, "Someone who feels they tend to adopt submissive behaviour in difficult situations." Another could be labelled, "Someone who believes they can be a bit aggressive when stressed."

If you do adapt the boxes to be more course specific, you'll need to brief participants that they are trying to find information from each other that is relevant to the training.

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Goldilocks - A Listening Exercise

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To test listening skills.
• To illustrate the dangers of making assumptions.
• To encourage participants to think about how they can check their understanding of information they receive.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes for completion. (You may wish to take more time for larger groups or where you want to explore some of the learning in more detail.)

Aims:
• To test listening skills.
• To illustrate the dangers of making assumptions.
• To encourage participants to think about how they can check their understanding of information they receive.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size. It is possible to use this exercise in conference situations as well as more usual training interventions like courses and workshops.

You'll Need:
• A pre-prepared flipchart of the statements from the handout (hidden from view until required).

Notes:
You can use the recording of the story if you prefer not to read it. We’d like to thank John Holloway for giving us permission to include it in the library.

If You Like This Training Exercise:
You’ll LOVE ‘The Witches of Glum’ which is also available from Trainers’ Library. ‘The Witches of Glum’ has been endorsed by Show Racism the Red Card for its ability to make participants think about prejudice and stereotypes. To find out more about the great work this charity is doing to educate against racism, visit www.srtrc.org.

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Guess What Animal I Am - An Exercise in Questioning

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To demonstrate the benefit of using open questions when gathering information.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To demonstrate the benefit of using open questions when gathering information.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

You'll Need:
Post its and pens.

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Intro Web

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To introduce participants to one another.
• To practice and test listening skills.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 10 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 20 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To introduce participants to one another.
• To practice and test listening skills.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
A very simple but engaging icebreaker.

This can be used in any situation to introduce participants, but is particularly useful where you want to focus on networking or communication skills.

It’s also a very effective way to introduce the concept of experiential training in train the trainer training. Participants should be able to see that getting involved in an experience makes the learning (in this case around communication) stick in a way that they wouldn’t gain from simply being told about, for example, the benefits of summary and clarification.

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Introductions - Learning About Other Participants

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 30 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share information about themselves.
• To build rapport among participants.
• To start to identify core communication skills.
• To explore the use of the communication loop.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 25 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share information about themselves.
• To build rapport among participants.
• To start to identify core communication skills.
• To explore the use of the communication loop.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

You'll Need:
• You might find it useful to pre-prepare a flipchart with the questions participants will be answering written on it.

Notes:
This exercise takes longer to run with larger groups.

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Jigsaw Race - An Introduction to Communication

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To test participants' communication skills.
• To demonstrate the importance of breaking complex messages down into key points.
• To illustrate the difficulties of communicating using only the voice.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to run. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To test participants' communication skills.
• To demonstrate the importance of breaking complex messages down into key points.
• To illustrate the difficulties of communicating using only the voice.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

You'll Need:
• A blindfold and a small jigsaw puzzle for each pair of participants.

24-30 piece puzzles are ideal. These items can be purchased from Trainers' Market.

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Just Beat It - Misinterpretations in Communication

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To demonstrate the dangers of making assumptions about others' knowledge when communicating.
• To recognise situations where the recipient might not interpret our message in the way we intended.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 5 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To demonstrate the dangers of making assumptions about others' knowledge when communicating.
• To recognise situations where the recipient might not interpret our message in the way we intended.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• Nothing other than the materials provided.

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Let's Dance! - Networking and Communication

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage networking.
• To illustrate that getting to know what matters to others is a great way of building rapport.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to run. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To encourage networking.
• To illustrate that getting to know what matters to others is a great way of building rapport.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 24 participants.

You'll Need:
Music, of your choice to play during the exercise.

Notes:
Remember to ensure that you have the appropriate PRS and PPL licences to use music during training.

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Dance Cards

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Life Story - A Test of Listening Skills

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share information about each other.
• To test participant's listening and recall skills.
• To briefly explore barriers to listening.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share information about each other.
• To test participant's listening and recall skills.
• To briefly explore barriers to listening.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

You'll Need:
• Nothing other than the materials provided.

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Making Connections

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To let participants get to know each other in a fun way.
• To identify what helped or hindered communication.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 20 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To let participants get to know each other in a fun way.
• To identify what helped or hindered communication.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
If using this exercise with very large groups it will take longer to run.

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One Man Brand - How Images Add Impact to Our Message

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To help participants get to know each other.
• To encourage participants to think about their personal ‘brand’.
• To understand the power of images to convey messages.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 20 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To help participants get to know each other.
• To encourage participants to think about their personal ‘brand’.
• To understand the power of images to convey messages.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of any size.

You'll Need:
• Blank name tent cards and pens for your participants.
A selection of Mr Sketch Scented Flipchart Markers can be purchased from Trainers' Market.

Notes:
If using this icebreaker in very large groups ask participants to work in small teams and introduce themselves to those team members rather than the whole group.

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Questions, Questions - An Exercise in Effective Communication

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to gather information about each other.
• To illustrate the importance and benefit of open questions when gathering information.
• To illustrate the uses of closed questions.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to gather information about each other.
• To illustrate the importance and benefit of open questions when gathering information.
• To illustrate the uses of closed questions.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

You'll Need:
• Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This exercise will take longer the larger the group.

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Shared Effort - The Importance of Teamwork

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To illustrate the nature and importance of teamwork in a fun way.
• To help teams define teamwork.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To illustrate the nature and importance of teamwork in a fun way.
• To help teams define teamwork.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• One ‘Bendy Man’ for each participant (available to purchase from Trainers' Market).
• One A3 sheet of paper for each participant. (Please note that A4 is not large enough.)

Notes:
This icebreaker is based on an idea contributed by Kim Davies.

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Sorting Out - Why Objectives Matter

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To help participants to understand why clear objectives and goals matter.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To help participants to understand why clear objectives and goals matter.

Group Size:
This exercise is suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• One set of Sorting Out Cards per two participants.
• A stopwatch.
• A buzzer or bell to signal when their time is up.
(Stopwatches and Desktop Bells are available to purchase from Trainers' Market).

Notes:
Filing Frenzy card packs are available to purchase from
Trainers' Market – each pack contains 10 sets of the shape cards used in this activity.

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Sorting Out - Why Speaking Works Best

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To help participants to understand the limitations of electronic communication when working as a team.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To help participants to understand the limitations of electronic communication when working as a team.

Group Size:
This exercise is suitable for use with groups of 6 or more participants.

You'll Need:
• 1 set of Sorting Out Cards and 3 envelopes per team of 3 participants.
• Every participant needs to use a mobile phone during the exercise.
• A stopwatch (available to purchase from Trainers' Market).

Filing Frenzy card packs are available to purchase from
Trainers' Market – each pack contains 10 sets of the shape cards used in this activity.

Notes:
This exercise works best with break out spaces, but it’s not essential as long as you have space to separate the 3 sets of players.

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The Paper Folding Exercise - Visual Communication

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 10 minutes.

Aims:
• To show the importance of giving information visually as well as orally.
• To demonstrate how different people will interpret the same information differently.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 5 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 10 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To show the importance of giving information visually as well as orally.
• To demonstrate how different people will interpret the same information differently.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• Two sheets of A4 paper for each participant (and for you too).

Notes:
We’d like to thank Mick Duncan of CWT-Chamber Training for contributing the idea for this exercise.

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