Labor Day - Summer's Last Hurrah! Make it count by taking the time to work on your training team's communication skills.

29 Aug 2015 10:00 AM | Molly Leonard (Administrator)

Communication is an important element to all team work, and even more important to us “trainers.” It is the method upon how all our content and work is delivered to our consumers. But we can’t think of our own personal communication as something that can be invested in once and it will stay valuable. If communication were an investment, it is less of an asset and more of an account. It is something that must be invested in continuously for it to improve and stay valuable.

Summer is the perfect time to work on this skill, because getting away from the office is the right time to improve what is in the office. Your training team should look forward to an outing where you can work on your communication between each other with different activities. Do not get me wrong, I enjoy the usual outings of “team building”- Golf outings, baseball games, and car races. These are great for getting out, taking it easy, and just talking with your friends from work. But, they do not really help in communicating better. An afternoon barbeque from the office at a nearby park or outdoor venue is a great change to work on this with team members. This will get everyone away from the conference rooms and computer, but still together to work this skill.

The event should start with eating and socializing of course, to get everyone comfortable and building a team rapport. But then the event should move into some communication building games as follows:

  • ·       “Draw it Out”- A game where someone is challenged to draw the obvious, will become obviously hard to do. A set of slips of paper must be assembled with words of everyday home objects on them. A large vertical drawing board is also needed. Everyone will be broken up into teams of 2, with each team going one at a time. Each team will then need to pick a drawer and describer. When it is time for the team to go, the describer will be given a slip of paper. The describer will then need to tell the drawer what to draw, using every word they have but the word on the slip. Each team will be timed, and the team with the shortest time taken will be the winner.
  • “Sell that Survival Tool”- Sometimes the best means of survival, is how well you can sell it. Everyone imagines they are on a deserted island and there is a pile of items available to the
  • m. The pile of items will be a stack of envelopes. Each envelope will contain a card with one survival item written on it, a piece of paper, and a pen. Everyone is given one of these envelopes at random. Each person must then write down for the next 5 minutes of time why that item is the most important survival item to have with them on the deserted island. When the time is up, each person must pass the paper to someone else. The next person then reads and presents from the notes, why that item is the most important for survival. Votes for each item are given. A roundtable discussion should occur while voting takes place to discuss the best item and best argument. The winning pair (writer and presenter) gets a prize.

Each of these activities is great for practicing communication. The first makes you focus clearly on the directions you are giving your team mate. When taken into a training setting, this will help clarify your training directions. The second activity will help each team member focus on their own enthusiasm and persuasion on the benefit of an idea. Sometimes the trickiest part of training is not presenting the new material, but really focusing on how to make it interesting for the audience. This activity will make each team member focus on that power.

To end, each of these activities is easy and affordable. The price and logistics of the food will be harder to tackle then putting these activities together. But, I believe each will yield benefits bigger than the effort of trying it out. Please try these activities out at your next summer team building event, and I hope you see better communication come the fall.

~ Joshua Jones, A2ATD Member at Large

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