Exercise: Story whispers

Useful for: Communication mediums, laughter.

Time: 10 to 15 minutes

Group size: 10 to 15 participants

Materials: A sheet of paper and writing material


On a piece of paper have one participant from the group go outside the room and write a story of about one paragraph of 3-4 sentences (this can be done before the meeting with the group). Be sure that the paragraph has at least 3 different topics and 3 different names involved, example, a Hollywood star, something in local news and something in world news. Once the story is written take the participant who is sitting directly next to the participant who has written the story and have that participant read the story to him/herself. Next ask that participant to retell the story to another participant without letting it reach anyone else’s ears or eyes. The story thus passes around the table until it reaches the last participant. The last participant must then recite what they have heard to the entire group. Then the first participant who had written the story has to read the story that they wrote originally. 

Remember, this is sure to get everyone laughing and sure to make it clear how important direct communication methods are. 


Exercise: We’ve got some of our senses

Useful for: Communication, team-work, team-bonding, leadership and follower importance.

Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Group size: 10 to 15 participants

Materials: A blind fold, a stopwatch, a whistle and an object


Divide participants into groups. Ask the groups to nominate two participants. Inform the pairs that one participant is to volunteer to be blindfolded while the other participant is to volunteer to direct the blindfolded participant to an object placed in the room. The catch is that the participant directing the blind folded participant is not allowed to use any form of normal verbal communication such as known languages and no group is allowed to copy another group’s chosen mode of communication. Teams are also not allowed to discuss strategies beforehand. 

Blindfold one participant, place the second participant behind the blind folded participant, ask them if they are ready and blow the whistle and place the object somewhere in the room. Time each group for 2 minutes using the stopwatch. When the time is up blow the whistle. Let each group do the task, all other team members act as onlookers. Discuss their understanding of  the exercise at the end.

Remember, it is a fast paced exercise which is a lot of fun. Keep the nominated two participants from each group in separate locations to avoid preplanning before their turn. Teams can help directing or distract the two players on their turn, but do not share this, hint it if you feel the need to let the participants get the idea. During the discussion irritate the team members for not thinking of a way to help their team mates when they were performing.


Exercise: Paper art jigsaw

Useful for: Communication, team-building, supervision.

Time: 20 to 30 minutes

Group size: 14 to 21

Materials: 2 sheets of paper (per participant), scissors (one per participant), facilitator instructions (one per group) and a stopwatch


Divide the participants into groups of 7 each (preferably a minimum of 3 groups with a minimum of 4 participants and a maximum of 7 participants in each group). And, ask them to nominate one member of their group for facilitation. Guide groups to separate corners of the room (preferably provide each group with a table and 7 chairs around the table) where they sit around in silence. Provide each member of the group 2 sheets of paper and a pair of scissors, excluding the group facilitators.

Provide the facilitators with the instructions to be shared with the groups and ask them to read it before sharing it with their respective group members. Then the facilitators instruct their respective groups to cut the papers into three or four or more pieces as creatively as possible. Provide the groups 2 minutes on the stopwatch to complete this task. As the groups perform the activity the facilitators role is only to be a silent observer. After the task is completed, the facilitators take the pieces of paper from each member of the group and shuffle up the pieces really well. The facilitator then randomly distributes the cut pieces of paper among each of the group members. The facilitators then instruct the group members that they are to put the pieces of papers into full squares or rectangles depending on the shape of the original paper provided to the participants without verbal or non-verbal communication amongst them. The facilitator is free to monitor and correct group members in case any verbal or non-verbal communication takes place. Provide the groups with 15 minutes on the stopwatch to complete this task (you could extend or shorten this time in case you wish). Once the time is up, see how many of the groups have completed their task and how many haven’t. Discuss the outcomes with the participants.

Remember, the key to this activity is that participants cannot communicate verbally or non-verbally, but let the participants figure out that they can take the initiative to help another group member or take another piece from another member for them to successfully complete the task as an individual and as a team. This exercise can be used both for communication and team building.


Exercise: Circle of balls

Useful for: Communication, team-building.

Time: 15 minutes

Group size: 20 or more participants

Material: 10 rubber balls and facilitators instructions


Divide the participants into two equal groups. Ask each group to nominate a facilitator for each of their groups. Provide the two facilitators with the instructions. The facilitators of the group introduce a rubber ball to the group. The task of the group members is to pass the ball before which they have to call out the names of the group member. This process is continued till each member has a chance to catch and throw the ball and all participants are familiar with the task. Once the members are familiar with the task the facilitator introduces a second ball and continues the same process. After which the facilitator introduces a third ball and continues the process. (If you wish you could ask the facilitators to introduce a fourth and fifth ball and even increase the pace to make it more exciting and confusing with every ball introduced into the circle). Once the third ball is introduced and the process is done, the facilitators ask their respective groups to reverse the order of the three balls and complete the same process. Once the process is complete, have a group discussion to see what the participants reactions were.

Remember, the participants are supposed to remember the order in which they are throwing the ball. This exercise is done well when group members know each others’ names. This exercise can be used for both communication and team building.


Exercise: A lot like dumb charades

Useful for: Verbal and non-verbal communication.

Time: 20 minutes

Group size: 15 participants or more

Materials: Facilitator instructions


Divide the participants into groups 3 equal groups to represent verbal communication, non-verbal communication, and verbal and non-verbal communication, respectively. Ask the groups to nominate a facilitator for each of their groups, respectively. Provide the facilitators with the facilitation instructions.

Ask each of the groups to go to different locations of the room so that they are not audible to each other. Then each of the respective group facilitators have to take their groups through 3 rounds of a game.

The task is for each of the groups is to find out the names of the 3 movies that their facilitator has in mind. The facilitator for the verbal communication group provides clues to the three movies using verbal communication, the facilitator for the non-verbal communication group provides clues to the three movies using non-verbal communication, and the facilitator for the verbal and non-verbal communication group provides clues to the three movies using both verbal and non-verbal communication. Time the three groups to see who takes the most time and discuss the outcomes. 

Examples of the types of cues provided for each of the groups is given below:

• The verbal communication group is given only verbal cues. For the movie ‘Price of Tides’ the verbal cues given can be royalty, waves etc.

• The non-verbal communication group is given only non-verbal cues. For the movie ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ the facilitator enacts sounds or actions like, cuckoo, bird flying etc.

• The verbal and non-verbal communication is given a  combination of both verbal and non-verbal cues. For the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’ the verbal cue given can be computer and the non-verbal cue given can be typing.

Remember, if you are giving the same three movies to each of the groups to work on then the groups should not be in hearing distance of each other. Alternatively provide each of the groups three different movies to work on but remember to keep the difficulty level the same.   



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