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One Way Vs. Two Way Communication Exercise

Brief Description/Purpose

Exercise to demonstrate how much easier it is to accomplish something when there is two way communication and interaction rather than one way.



Age Appropriate

All ages

Ideal Group Size

Any size since it can be done with a pair at the front of the room, or in pairs for the entire group.

Time For Exercise

30 minutes


Communication, Leadership, Management, Supervision

Detailed Instructions If Needed

Prepare two different diagrams on a flip-chart or overhead. Do not show them to the group. Ask a volunteer to assist in the following demonstration.

2. Explain to the participants that the volunteer is going to describe something to them and their task is to simply follow instructions and sketch what is described.

3. Provide the volunteer with one of the diagrams. The volunteer turns his or her back to the participants so no eye contact is possible.

4. The volunteer may only use verbal communication - no gestures, hand signals, etc. No questions are allowed from the participants. Only one-way communication is permitted.

5. When the exercise is completed, show the diagram and ask participants to compare it with their drawings.

6. Select another volunteer and repeat the game, using the other diagram. This time allow twoway verbal communication (i.e. questions may be asked) but no visual directions.

7. Compare the results of the two exercises.

Debrief Questions:

Encourage group discussion with the following questions:

How many participants were confused and quit listening? -

Why was one-way communication so difficult to follow? -

Did two-way communication ensure complete understanding? -

How can we make our communication efforts more effective?

What implications can this have for leadership, management, etc.

Additional Information if Available

(Courtesy of Unicef)

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