Communication is a major part of life for most people, and communication workshops help attendees to improve this skill. Designed to push the limits of an individual's comfort level and expand understandings of sender/receiver roles, communication workshop activities can have a significant impact on participants.

Expand the Comfort Zone

To expand the comfort zone of communication workshop attendees, it is sometimes necessary to place the attendees in uncomfortable situations. Consider having attendees introduce other participants to the workshop audience by instructing them to collect information from a fellow workshop colleague whom they have never met before. To make the exercise more interesting, have the participants collect unusual information like original hair color, things liked or disliked about the other individual's home town, or favorite pet names. This activity will help to reinforce positive listening behaviors such as taking notes and paying careful attention, while also expanding the participants' comfort zone.

Teach Participants to Think Differently

Part of learning to communicate more effectively involves understanding different perspectives. To help accomplish this task, have participants complete tasks in an unusual way, like writing notes using both their left and right hand, using only the left hand to consume a provided snack, or scribbling a note upside down. Workshop organizers can use creativity to develop challenging exercises, but use caution to ensure the activities can actually be achieved.

Uncover Listening Differences

Play a short (less than 10 minutes) presentation--preferably one that demonstrates a socially awkward situation--for workshop attendees, asking them to take notes. After the presentation ends, divide the audience into small groups and ask the group members to discuss their interpretation of each character's role in the presentation. Select a member of each group to describe the group's take on each person's contribution to the communication breakdown (or breakdowns) in the presentation. This activity will help participants to understand that individuals or groups view situations from different perspectives.

Demonstrate Effective Listening Behaviors

Describe to the audience the top listening behaviors, being sure to include actionable items such as making eye contact, taking notes and eliminating distractions. Pair the attendees into sets of two with an assignment to discuss a given topic. Have one member of each pair listen while exhibiting effective listening behaviors, and then have the other member attempt to listen while not making eye contact, sending text messages on a mobile phone and not taking notes. This activity will demonstrate the importance of effective listening habits.