No Image Available

Seb Anthony

Read more from Seb Anthony

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

communication skills


Hi all,

I'm about to run a session on the reference interview - illiciting information from enquirers - and want to have a practical exercise which illustrates bad communication skills. I've done the Jam Sandwich loads of times, can anyone come up with something new ? There will be 6 trainees and the sesion is only 1 hour.

thanks in advance,
Sue Peacock
Sue Peacock

9 Responses

  1. questioning skills exercise
    This is an exercise on asking the right questions to tget the right information:

    Write the names of well known people (celebrities) on sticky labels and stick one onto each delegate’s back.

    Working in pairs they have to ask each other questions to try to find out who they are.

    They are not allowed to ask: who am I? or What does my label say. Do not tell them what type of questions to ask, just let them have a go.

    The winner is the person to find out their real identity in the least number of questions, so they have to be very focussed and specific about the information they are looking for.

    You will probably find that most of the questions asked will be closed, yet they will all know the value of open and probing questions.

    This generally leads to a discussion on planning the right questions to ask and thinking your questions through before asking them.
    If you would like any further explanation please call me on (0118) 9875683 or email me on

  2. Communication skills
    Hi Sue,

    I have some exercises that may be useful about listening skills, and making assumptions, also look at they have some fantastic exercises/games on Communication skills,
    many thanks

  3. communication
    A spin on Colette’s suggestion is to run the exercise in 2 rounds, having explained the difference between open and closed questions: round one – only ask closed questions, round two (with different partner/different name on back) only ask open questions. Then compare the results in a feedback session.

  4. Poor communication skills
    I’m not sure whether what I have will fit however please email me ( for a MS Power Point copy of 7/8 examples of poor communication. They are really good to use as an introduction to communication skills. They do put a smile on delegate faces!
    If anyone else would like a copy, don’t hesitate to contact me.
    Happy Days!

  5. Guess who!
    Hi Sue

    Heres one for you

    If you do role plays, have one person try to illicit information using closed questions only (Yes/no) Absolute nightmare because its becomes a real drag for both, do it two minutes either way and you will have made your point!

    Hope this helps


  6. Eliciting info…
    Sorry to be so picky, but the question was about communication skills….

    I suspect that you want to elicit information not illicit it.


  7. One Vs Two Way Communication
    Most of your current respondents seem to have highlighted the problems between asking closed questions rather than a combination of Open and Closed Questions etc. – but I would also point to the problems associated with One (1) Way rather than Two (2) Way Communications.
    One Way Comms. may be important in professions where someone needs to bark out orders to others and have these followed without question (i.e. Armed Forces etc.) but Two (2) Way Communications are essential for the learning process and for ensuring effective take up of ideas and the eventual establishment of competence within new trainees etc.
    We illustrate the different methods, and the pros. and cons. of each method by asking an audience of trainees to draw exactly what we tell them – using 1 Way Comms. first (us telling them what we think is appropriate for them to know – but without giving them the opportunity to ask questions) and then finally by using 2 Way Comms. (where they can ask as many relevant questions as they wish)

    The drawing we ask them to reproduce ia a simple geometric pattern of bricks or brick like blocks laid in random form and at different angles to one another.

    At the end of the exercise we ask the trainees to display their 2 drawings and compare the accuracy of what they have drawn from the drawing we have asked them to reproduce during these communication exercises.

    We also then ask them to tell us where the stress was felt and by whom during such different exercises so that we can point out the deep frustrations that can sometimes come from both 1 way and 2 way comms. – but also why these are both necessary in different situations.

  8. i have a couple of exercises
    Hi Sue, I have a different variation on open/closed/probing questions if you’re interested, called Doctor’s Surgery. Either you or a delegate is the patient and the group has to ask questions to find out what is wrong. I usually use, ‘i have a headache and nausea and have been painting and decorating over the weekend in an unventilated room as it’s cold’. Then you or someone else flip quantities of each type of question for a feedback session on which questions were most effective.

    Another one i use is split group into pairs and give out photocopies of two different styles of house, house A and B. They sit back to back and asking questions in turn have to draw how they percieve the answers – give them ten minutes before showing the results which can be quite amusing! (The most successful delegates take notes before drawing) Good feedback usually follows. Hope this helps.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!