Communication is the Key!™ | Communication Training Activity

Ideal team activity to highlight common communication stumbling blocks - and agree how to avoid them.

Learning Objectives

  • Exposes the danger of making assumptions
  • Highlights the importance of checking and clarifying all aspects of a task
  • Forcefully shows the importance of unambiguous written communications
  • Illustrates how important it is to plan for meetings and agree agendas
  • Shows how easy it is for communications to go wrong!

Five-Year Repeat Use Licence

This Northgate training activity comes with a five-year licence for repeat use with up to 12 participants per training session within the licence-holding organisation. Please ask for a discount on multiple licences for larger groups. Also includes access to the Northgate Trainerhub (see below for details).

  • Participants

    6-12 (two teams of 3-6 per team)

  • Timing

    1.5 hours + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Yes - 1 PC required

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  • UK delivery

    (normally next working day)


  • Europe delivery

    (1-2 working days)


  • World delivery

    (1-5 working days)



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The Activity

Each team works separately and has a map of an area showing a number of public houses as well as their own colour flag. One team’s task is to visit the pubs to collect bottles of water; the other’s task is to collect empty bottles. The teams also have to draw the other’s flag. They do not know each other’s tasks but know that their joint score is what will be measured.

Their means of communication is two-fold:

  • They can send unlimited emails via a central computer.
  • They can have one 5 minute meeting every half hour at which only one person from each team can speak (the rest of the team can silently attend the meeting).

Sounds simple? At the end the two teams often have no idea about what the other team was trying to do!

Trainer's Role

  • Divide the group into two and place a computer and printer between them.
  • Explain the task in general terms and the mechanics of using the computer.
  • Issue teams with their Briefs and maps.
  • Observe teams at work and stand by to arrange and oversee the meetings where only one member from each team can speak although all team members may attend.
  • Hold a Debrief (where many teams are amazed to learn what the other team’s task was). All misunderstandings are revealed and the lessons can be related to real examples from the workplace.

Pack Contents

  • Trainer’s Notes
  • Computer Program (internet access required)
  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • Team One Briefing Folder
  • Team Two Briefing Folder
  • Maps
  • Planning Forms
  • Felt Pen Sets

This activity is supplied as a hard copy pack for face-to-face classroom use and the files are also supplied digitally. The computer program & digital files are accessed via an online portal called the Northgate Trainerhub (internet access is required to run the computer program).

Northgate Trainerhub

Benefits of the online Northgate Trainerhub include:

  • Easy-to-access resource library which stores all the digital files for the activity in one place
  • Immediate access to upgrades made to the activity over the five-year licence term
  • Access to an online Trainer Forum where you can post questions, share experiences & network with other Trainers
  • Access to free activities and icebreakers
  • Unlimited Trainer logins for all Trainers based at the licence-holding site

'Communication is the Key!' is a very good team exercise that highlights all the problems we have communicating with each other. Used as part of the Communication Session on a Managers’ Skills Course with junior managers. The best learning points were: do not assume anything, life is not a competition, need to share more.

Paul Stubbs, Head of Learning & Development, Europe, AECOM

Used as part of a Communications Skills course for BAE Systems, 'Communication is the Key!' is useful, fun and good for use in areas of communication and team-working. The best learning points are: sharing as much information 'up front' as possible, avoid making assumptions, ask more questions.

Malcolm Archer, BAE Systems

The learning from 'Communication is the Key!' is virtually limitless and I always find it great fun to run.

Helen Langhammer, Director, Aspire Consulting

'Communication is the Key!' A great success! What can I say - you came up trumps again! Thanks Northgate.

K. Duthie, Clare Fletcher Training Ltd

It was the highlight of the training. Despite all their discussions and justifications, the delegates learned a lot about their communication.

Edgar Mueller-Gensert, CEO, Muller-Gensert und Gensert

'Communication is the Key!' went very well and was identified as the ‘best part of the training'.

Vassos Chrysostomou, Partner, IBE Partnership

'Communication is the Key!' is great for highlighting the challenges for managers and team members when working remotely.

Dr Ben Hardy, SOAS, University of London

'Communication is the Key!' has been great – we have been playing it between different teams and we are doing a managers' session this month. Our delegates found it challenging at first but it led to some great conversations afterwards in regards to communication which we are all putting in to practice! I would definitely recommend Northgate Training.

Jess Brosnan, Training Manager, hireful Ltd

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