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Workshop 1: Communication Skills Lab

Welcome to our Organisational Excellence Workshop Series. This series seeks to provide a launch pad for building professional skills and organisational success. Each workshop provides a jumping-off point for a different theme, exploring innovative strategies and practical exercises to enhance work and team dynamics. See more in the series here:
The objective of this workshop is to help develop advanced communication strategies for team cohesion and effective conflict resolution.

Duration: Full-Day Workshop (8 hours)

Materials Needed:
    • Handouts on communication techniques.
    • Role-play scenarios.
    • Feedback forms.
Facilitator's Note:
    • Foster a safe and open environment for honest communication.
    • Be prepared with real-world examples to enrich discussions.
    • Adapt activities to be relevant to the group’s dynamics and needs.
The outline below provides a template set of activities to facilitate the Communication Skills Lab workshop. Use this as a base to customise and build a relevant workshop for your specific audience and needs.

1. The Communication Icebreaker

Participants share a memorable communication experience in their professional lives.

Desired Outcome
To break the ice and set the stage for understanding different communication styles and experiences. This activity promotes the sharing of personal experiences, laying a groundwork for appreciating diverse communication needs and styles.

    1. Ask each participant to think of a significant communication experience in their work.
    2. Go around the room, allowing each to share their experience.
    3. Facilitate a brief discussion on what can be learned from these stories.
Potential Challenges
Participants may be reluctant to share personal stories. To help overcome this, ensure you foster a supportive atmosphere and emphasise the value of diverse experiences.

2. Active Listening Exercise

Pairs of participants practice active listening skills.

Desired Outcome
To enhance listening skills, which are critical for effective communication. This activity develops active listening, a foundational skill for understanding and resolving conflicts.

    1. Pair up participants.
    2. One person speaks about a work-related topic for 3 minutes while the other actively listens.
    3. The listener then summarises what they heard.
    4. Switch roles and repeat.
Potential Challenges
Participants might focus more on speaking than listening. To help overcome this, remind them of the importance of listening and provide tips on how to listen actively.

3. Non-Verbal Communication Role-Play

An interaction that is focused on understanding and using non-verbal cues.

Desired Outcome
To recognise the importance of non-verbal communication in team interactions. This activity enhances awareness of body language and other non-verbal signals in communication.

    1. Present a brief overview of non-verbal communication.
    2. Conduct role-plays where participants communicate only through non-verbal cues.
    3. Discuss the impact of non-verbal communication in these exercises.
Potential Challenges
Misinterpretation of non-verbal cues. To help overcome this, debrief thoroughly to clarify and learn from these instances.

4. Conflict Resolution Role-Play

Participants role-play scenarios to practice conflict resolution.

Desired Outcome
To apply communication strategies in resolving conflicts. This activity provides practical experience in managing conflicts through effective communication techniques.

    1. Prepare conflict scenarios relevant to the participants' work environments.
    2. In groups, participants role-play these scenarios, focusing on communication strategies to resolve the conflict.
    3. Group discussion and feedback follow each role-play.
Potential Challenges
Emotional responses to conflict scenarios. To help overcome this, set clear guidelines for respectful interaction and provide support as needed.

5. Effective Questioning Workshop

An interaction focused on asking effective and insightful questions.

Desired Outcome
To master the art of questioning as a tool for better understanding and communication. This activity enhances the use of questions to guide conversations constructively and uncover deeper insights.

    1. Brief participants on techniques for effective questioning.
    2. Practice sessions where participants ask each other open-ended, probing questions related to work.
    3. Discuss the impact of different types of questions.
Potential Challenges
Leading or closed questions. To help overcome this, encourage participants to recognise and avoid these types of questions.

6. Feedback & Constructive Criticism

Exercises on giving and receiving feedback constructively.

Desired Outcome
To develop the skill of providing constructive feedback and receiving it positively. This activity focuses on feedback as a key component of communication and team development.

    1. Teach the principles of constructive feedback.
    2. Role-play exercises where participants give and receive feedback.
    3. Group discussion on the experiences and lessons learned.
Potential Challenges
Sensitivity to criticism. To help overcome this, ensure you emphasise the importance of a growth mindset and the value of constructive feedback.

7. Communication Strategies Synthesis

Integrating learned skills into a cohesive communication strategy.

Desired Outcome
To create a personal action plan for enhancing communication skills. This activity encourages the application of workshop learnings in real-world settings, allowing for immediate implementation and improvement in communication abilities.

    1. Participants reflect on the day's activities and identify key takeaways.
    2. They develop a personal action plan for improving their communication skills relevant to their role. For example, as a leader they might look at how they communicate with each individual member of their team.
    3. Share plans in small groups for feedback and refinement.
Potential Challenges
Overwhelm with information. To help overcome this, guide participants to focus on a few key strategies they can realistically implement.

8. Workshop Debrief & Feedback Session

Collecting feedback and summarising key learnings.

Desired Outcome
To reinforce key concepts and gather insights for continuous improvement. This activity helps to ensure understanding of the workshop content and provides insights for enhancing future workshops.

    1. Open forum for participants to share their thoughts on the workshop. What went well? What could be improved? What topics were of most and least interest? Why?
    2. The facilitator summarises key concepts and learnings.
    3. Collect written feedback for future improvements.
Potential Challenges
Limited participant engagement. To help overcome this, encourage honest and open feedback, stressing its importance for future workshops.
Thank you for joining us in this edition of the 'Organisational Excellence Workshop Series'. We hope the insights and strategies from the Communication Skills Lab workshop have inspired you and provided a valuable tool to kick-start and customise your own workshop. Remember, each workshop in this series is a step towards enhancing and enriching your organisational culture. Stay tuned for our next edition, where we will explore another vital aspect of professional development, continuing our journey of learning and growth. Until then, we encourage you to implement what you've learned and share your experiences with your peers.
Trevor O'Sullivan

Trevor O'Sullivan

General Manager. Since the early 2000s, Trevor has worked with thousands of Talent Management professionals to develop and apply assessment-based talent management solutions for selecting, developing and managing people. Trevor is an active member of the TTI Success Insights (TTISI) Global Advisory Council, contributes to TTISI product development and is a regular presenter at TTISI-R3. He is honoured to have received multiple Blue Diamond Awards and, more recently, the Bill Brooks Impact Award recognising his contributions to the TTISI global network.

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