8 Fun Team-Building Activities for Improving Communication
Updated February 3, 2023
Improving your team’s communication skills can improve productivity and mitigate conflict before it arises. It also allows you to maximize the talents of your employees and ensure they are in the roles they are best suited for. Team-building activities are a fun and educational way for you to improve your team members' communication with each other, although identifying the right activity can take some time and research.
In this article, we explain what team-building activities are and share a list of eight activities you can use to improve your team's communication skills.
What are team-building activities?
Team-building activities refer to a collective group of activities used to enhance relationships within a team. Many team-building activities aim to address specific things, such as learning how another person thinks, communicates and solves problems. Team-building activities are meant to be both educational as well as fun.
Types of Communication
Use a strong, confident speaking voice.
Use active listening.
Avoid filler words.
Avoid industry jargon when appropriate.
Notice how your emotions feel physically.
Be intentional about your nonverbal communications.
Mimic nonverbal communications you find effective.
Ask others before including visuals.
Consider your audience.
Only use visuals if they add value.
Make them clear and easy to understand.
Strive for simplicity.
Don’t rely on tone.
Take time to review your written communications.
Keep a file of writing you find effective or enjoyable.
8 communication team-building activities
Here are eight fun team-building activities that you can try with your own team to improve communication:
Truth and lies
The barter puzzle
The human knot
The perfect square
1. Back-to-back drawing
For this team-building activity, you’ll need an even number of people so everyone has a partner. Once everyone is paired off, sit or stand back to back. You can use a pen and paper or draw on a whiteboard. One person will take the role of the speaker and the other takes the part of the listener. For five to 10 minutes, the speaker will describe a geometric image from a prepared set of cards and the listener will try to draw the image strictly from the speaker’s description.
Afterward, discuss the steps that were taken to ensure the instructions were clear and how this could be implied in real-life interactions. The person drawing can also share what was constructive about the instructions and what they would have done differently if they had been allowed to communicate back to the speaker.
2. Island survival
Break up groups into teams of five to 10 people. Then read them a scenario that describes how they have been stranded on an island following a shipwreck and that they discover items washing up on the shore. Give them a list with 20 items and explain they are allowed to keep only five. They then have to work together to identify which items they’ll keep. After everyone is done, each team presents to the other groups which items they kept and why. Not only does this activity help team members practice communication skills, but it also leads to improved cooperation and teamwork.
3. Zen counting
For this exercise, have your team sit in a circle facing away from one another. In no particular order, have them start counting from one to 10—or you could count higher if you had more team members— with each member saying only one number. If someone talks over someone or repeats a number, the exercise starts back at one. This exercise creates stillness and encourages team members to listen closely to one another.
4. Truth and lies
This exercise is best practiced with five or more people. Have each person come up with three facts and one lie about themselves. The lie should be something that’s plausible. After someone reads their list aloud, the rest of the team is left to guess which statements are true and which are a lie. This helps teams to improve communication by getting to know one another better. It also gives introverts a chance to share facts about themselves that others may have been unaware of.
5. The barter puzzle
This activity requires four or more small groups and a different jigsaw puzzle for each group. Divide your participants into small groups of equal sizes and give them each a jigsaw puzzle of the same difficulty level. The teams will then be challenged to see who can complete their puzzles the fastest. The twist, though, is that some pieces will be mixed around in the puzzles of other groups. The teams must identify the mismatched pieces and then figure out a way to get their own back. They can use whatever methods they want, including negotiating, trading pieces or even trading team members.
6. Human knot
For this activity, you’ll need eight to 20 people. Have all of your participants stand in a circle facing one another and close enough that they’re shoulder-to-shoulder. Have everyone put their right hand out and grab the hand of a person across from them. The group must then figure out how to untangle the knot of arms within a set amount of time without releasing hands.
7. The perfect square
For this activity, you’ll need a long piece of rope tied together and a blindfold for each of the five to 20 people needed to participate. Have the participants stand in a circle holding a piece of the rope. Have everyone set the rope down and put on their blindfolds, then ask everyone to walk a short distance from the circle. Next, have everyone return to the rope and try to form a square while still wearing their blindfolds. To be effective at this activity, team members will need to practice strong communication and leadership skills. To make it more complicated, instruct some people to remain silent during the exercise.
8. The minefield
For this activity, you’ll need an even number of people, as everyone will need a partner. Place objects like balls and cones on the ground—ideally in a large open space like a park or empty parking lot—and then have one person in each pair put on a blindfold. The other person must lead their partner from one side of the open space to the other using only verbal instructions. The person who is blindfolded isn’t allowed to speak. To make it even more complicated, you can create specific routes with tape that the speaker is supposed to lead their partner through.
Tips on improving communication skills in the workplace
Here are a few tips to help you improve communication in the workplace:
Practice self-awareness: Be aware of the nonverbal messages you are sending. When our verbal communication relays one message but our nonverbal cue relay another, we risk creating confusion.
Be an active listener: Understand that communication is a two-way process. Recognize when it’s time to communicate and when you need to step back and actively listen to the other party.
Model good communication: Communication skills need to not only be taught but also modeled and practiced.
Create a positive working environment: Communication is best practiced in a safe and supportive environment where employees feel that they can express their ideas and creativity.
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