Sample Agenda- Enhancing Communication

Take a look at the Enhancing Communication Overview.

Sample Agenda: Enhancing Communication

Time Needed: 80-90 minutes
Purpose: For participants to improve communicating across differences

Session Introduction (10 minutes)

Welcome to the session
Overview of agenda
Goals for the session

Select your opening prompt

Here are some questions that have been successfully used for enhancing communication:

  • What do I need to be effective?
  • What does support look like?
  • What is responsibility?
  • What does being heard look like?
  • What does listening look like?

Starting the Conversation (17 minutes)

2 minutes for instruction
5 minutes for creating images
10 minutes for sharing

Ask participants to quickly go through their image sets to find pictures that speak to the opening question:

  • What do I need to be effective? (or alternative selection)

This question is designed to get people talking about their needs, which they will be invested in.

There are no rules about how participants can go about this part of the process. They can select as few or as many photos as they wish, and assemble them any way they wish on the sheet of paper in front of them. The only limitation is time; they should finish selecting and arranging their images within five minutes.

Next, use the next ten minutes to have participants share a brief story of their images. Ask participants to listen carefully to each person’s response and notice the similarities and differences. The amount of time each participant has to share their story will vary with the size of the group and your time constraints.

As different people share, there will be differences revealed as individuals talk about what is important to them. It’s setting up a conversation that is likely to have differences that will need to be accommodated. This is an indirect way of getting a topic on the table where good communication skills will be needed. There isn’t right and wrong, just differences, which is the type of conversation where people can practice accommodating each other in new ways.

As participants are sharing their stories, ask clarifying questions if they are needed. You can do this yourself, or explain the types of questions that participants are welcome to ask of each other and allow them to become active questioners. Some examples include:

  • Can you tell me more?
  • What would be another example?
  • Is this what you mean? (then restate in your words)

Deepening the Conversation (10 minutes)

Ask participants to begin to discuss what they have heard from each other. Some
suggested questions:
What questions has this raised for you?
Where are the similarities?
How can we use our strengths better?
What are the areas that are harder?

Narrowing the Conversation (12 minutes)

Ask participants to call out what they heard that other people need to be effective on the team. Write them on a flipchart or whiteboard. Put stars next to the ones that are heard multiple times.

Ask these types of questions:
What are the key points to remember?
Where can we find alignment?
What pieces are missing?

Assessing the Conversation (8 minutes)

Ask participants to identify which needs are being met effectively and underline them. Circle any they think may need to be improved.

If there are differing opinions about whether needs are met or not, have a conversation to explore where the differences are. Ask questions such as:

  • Is it differing personal needs?
  • Are there differences in resource allocation?
  • What implication does this have?

Applying the Conversation (15 minutes)

Ask participants what they can do to help the group get more of their needs met. What steps would need to happen to make the changes? If they can’t meet the whole need, what is one step they can take toward making it happen? What are they willing to give up or change to make space for new things?

Make a list of commitments to be copied for distribution to the group. Ask how
they are going to follow up to make sure the commitments are kept.

Debriefing the Conversation (8 minutes)

The debriefing section is where you help the group pull together everything they have done. It is a critical step and worth every minute invested.

Ask questions such as:

  • Did you notice anything interesting about what you need?
  • Were you surprised by anything you heard?

Closing (5 minutes)

At the end of the session, provide guidance to the participants about how to carry the work forward after the session.


Building Great Teams is also available in a printed version.