Activities to Improve Effective Communication in the Workplace

by Kermit Burley; Updated September 26, 2017

Effective communication in the workplace is essential for success. Communicating well involves learning how to both create and receive messages properly. Today's workplace offers many options for communicating and also many opportunities for misunderstanding. Email, memos, phone and voice mail as well as face to face communication and meetings present challenging opportunities for everyone in your company. Concentrating on improving the communication skills of your people will yield results both now and in the future.

Training Programs

Increased training will improve the quality and accuracy of your employees. Courses on active listening, creating and receiving communications, and both small and large group activities are topics for most effective communication-training programs. Vendors and consultants offer a wide variety of programs and most will tailor a program to your company's individual needs. Be certain that all employees, including your managers, attend the training program, and look for a trainer who will actively involve all learners in his training class.

Video Observation

A creative way to prove how difficult it can be to communicate is to use video. Select several scenes from various movies and play a short clip of a scene in the movie. Using a skilled facilitator, ask each participant to describe portions of the scene. Look for what the actors were wearing, background information, lines recited and other details you have chosen from this clip. Attempt to reach consensus and then play back the scene, stopping at each item you have chosen. Most of what was observed will be incorrect and you will have demonstrated how difficult communication can be.

One-Way Communication

Gather your people in a small group and supply them building blocks. Create directions for how to create an object but do not tell the group what they will be creating. Simply tell the participants that each person will be creating an object based only on your directions. Instruct the group that they cannot speak to you or any other participant while you are reading the directions. At the end of your directions, tell the group what they were creating. You will discover many different objects and also prove that one-way communication, like email, can lead to misunderstandings.

Picture Activity

Gather three pictures that contain a large object like a building or monument. Select two people as volunteers. Place them in the front of the room and seat them back to back. Give one person a picture and show it to the rest of the group so the other seated person cannot see it. Instruct the person with the picture to describe the object to her partner without telling him what it is. Her goal is to describe it so well that the other person can accurately tell the group what it is. Repeat this process three times and everyone will understand how difficult accurate communication can be.


About the Author

Based in Bethlehem, Pa., Kermit Burley has been writing articles for over 30 years. His articles have appeared in "Training" magazine, as well as numerous company publications throughout the course of his career. Burley holds a Masters of Education in instructional design from Penn State and is certified as a trainer and instructional designer.