Use this body language exercise at the beginning of a session before covering non-verbal communication. The aim is to find out how much delegates already know about this topic and effectively prepare them for what is followed. They can also learn from each other in the process. This activity will also help you understand which areas to focus on most as you go through the body language training.
Identify non-verbal signals and explain what they mean by observing people in everyday situations in images or videos.
What You Need
- A set of videos and images depicting people in everyday situations such as those listed below. You can obtain videos and images from popular video sharing sites such as YouTube or image sharing sites such as Flickr, Tumblr or Google Images. Check with local regulations to see what you can show in your classes. Look for the following ideas:
- A presenter giving a presentation using slides
- A public speaker giving a speech
- A politician giving an interview to press
- A public plea for the return of a missing relative
- Two businesspeople greeting each other
- People gathering or waiting in an airport, exhibition centre or a train station.
- Show one video or image at a time.
- Ask the delegates to observe and take notes on what they observe. Ask them to pay attention to posture, gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice and body orientation.
- Ask delegates to present their ideas to the group.
- Encourage a short discussion. In particular, look for disagreements and ask each person to defend a particular position.
- Continue showing all images as above.
- Follow with a general discussion.
Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes.
Activity: 10 minutes
Group Feedback: 5 minutes
How easy was it to interpret non-verbal communication? Was there a pattern in commonly used gestures and postures? What were these patterns? Were people in the videos or images seemed to be aware of their own body language and its significance on others or their audience? How important is the knowledge of body language? Which areas do you like to focus on the most?
A great variation of this exercise when showing videos is to show them when muted. With no sound on, ask the delegates to guess what is going on and see how much of the message comes through by only observing non-verbal signals. The best way to use this variation is to first show some videos with sound and then show other video without sound to emphasise the point. For this, select videos of people who are highly emotional so the body language is more expressive.
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