Silent Opera – Team Building Activity

1

Overview
In this activity, a group of silent participants will be giving instructions to a “caller”, who will be giving instructions to a blindfolded participant.

Resources:

  • An open field or ballroom
  • Multiple soft objects
  • A chair for the caller
  • Blindfold
  • Rope, or taped, line for the silent participants

Space Required: Can be indoors or outdoors.

Group Size:  Groups of 4 to 20 participants.

Total Time: 45 minutes

  • 10 minutes to describe activity, select participants for all three roles and allow pre-planning
  • 20 minutes for the activity
  • 15 minutes to review and debrief

Prerequisite: None

Set Up

  • There are three participant areas.  From left to right: 1) The start line for silent participants; 2) the center of the field/room with a seated caller facing the silent participants; 3) the field of soft objects to be retrieved by the blindfolded participant.

Running the Activity

  • Objective:  For the blindfolded participant to retrieve the soft objects from the playing field in the shortest time possible.

Rules:

  • The silent participants may not use their voices to communicate and must stay behind the start line.  Their job is to describe to the “caller” where the objects are for the blindfolded participant.  They may jump up and down, use hand signals, grunt, etc.
  • The “caller” is facing the silent participants and has his back to the blindfolded participant.  His job is to describe for the blindfolded participant where to go.
  • The blindfolded participant can talk to the caller, but will not be able to see the objects.  Their job is to retrieve as many as possible in the shortest amount of time.

Suggested Learning Outcomes

  • Problem Solving
  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Distractions

Activity Guidance and Notes
Safety first!  Make sure the field/room is clear of any objects that can harm the blindfolded participant.  Disperse only soft objects that the blindfolded participant cannot be harmed if they step on them.  Watch for twisted ankles.  The facilitator should also walk alongside this participant at all times.

Set the “caller” in the middle of the room and ask that they keep their back to the playing field.  Remind the silent participants that they should not use their voices. Run the activity for time (20 minutes) or until you feel like the participants are no longer engaged.

Review
Suggested questions to ask:

  • Silent participants – what were some of the ways that you communicated without speaking?  What were some of the challenges?  Were you able to communicate effectively?
  • Caller – What were some of the challenges of communicating with two groups at one time?  Did you feel like the communication was effective?  What were some of the distractions?
  • Blindfolded participant – Did you feel like you received good instructions?  How did you feel about the activity?  How does being blindfolded in this activity remind you of workplace communication?
  • For everyone – How do distractions lessen the effectiveness of communication and create chaos?
  • Did you establish a leader?  If so, how did that happen?

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