Paired listening is an excellent training exercise for teaching learners about effective communication skills and active listening. It is also great for allowing everyone to be heard and enables participants to explore and formulate their own opinions on a subject matter or workshop topic without interruption.
- Split the group into pairs, one person will be listening whilst the other speaks.
- The speaker talks about their thoughts on a topic that you’ve selected.
- Encourage the speaking to speak as thoughts enter the mind without analysing or holding back.
- The role of the listener is to give full attention to the speaking, observing and listening without interrupting. The listener can support the speaker if they get stuck and ask a few questions to facilitate the discussion.
- After a set time (1 to 4 minutes is usually enough) the speaker and listener then alternate roles.
Follow-up this discussion exercise with a full group discussion, with every person summarising the thoughts of their partner.
I have used a similar version of this when teaching presentation and delivery skills for new instructors. Instead of selecting a topic for them, allowing them to talk about anything they like. This helps them build in confidence and get use to talking in front of other people.