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Describe it!

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This is an exercise which demonstrates the importance of feedback in communication.

Ask a volunteer to sit with back to class and to describe a drawing that has a number of touching rectangles.

The class attempts to draw the arrangement of rectangles without giving any feedback or asking any questions.

Repeat the exercise, with the same person or volunteer and using another drawing:

This time the class is allowed to ask questions and to give feedback. Discuss feelings, emotions, results and effects.

Full size drawings for printing exercise sheets


This exercise works very well as described though there are two potential disadvantages depending on where and how it is used:
  1. The exercise has the potential to be embarrassing in a very public manner, so you need to be careful who you choose to do the exercise.

  2. Only one or two people get to experience the describing part of the exercise.
The answer to these problems is to run the exercise in small groups, or even better, in pairs taking turns to describe and draw the picture.

Describe it! can also be used as a coaching exercise where a third person coaches the participant who is doing the describing.

Communication Icebreakers

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