21 Fun Communication Games for Work in 2021

Home » Resources » Communication GamesUpdated: November 23, 2021

You found our list of the best communication games for work.

Communication games are activities that improve teammates’ ability to exchange information. For instance, Can You Hear Me Now, Telephone, and Mad Gab. The purpose of these games is to show the importance of clear communication to strengthen employees’ verbal and nonverbal conversation skills.

These exercises are a type of team building game and are similar to connection games and relationship building games.

This list includes:

  • team building communication games
  • nonverbal communication games
  • verbal communication games
  • virtual communication games
  • communication skills games

Here we go!

List of communication games

Here is a list of fun games to improve communication skills at work.

1. Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now? is one of the easiest virtual communication games. To play the game, participants need paper and pens. Each round, one player takes a turn describing an item for other participants to draw one shape or line at a time. For instance, the sun, a tree, a stoplight, or a cat. The object of the game is for players to try to guess the object before the drawing is complete.

The game emphasizes the importance of giving clear instructions, and reveals how seemingly simple statements can have unexpected interpretations. Also, it is fun to see how the drawings turn out.

See our guide to Can you hear me now? and check out more online team building games.

2. Back-to-back Drawing

Back-to-back Drawing is a drawing activity that centers around description and active listening. Participants pair up and sit back to back. Player one holds a completed picture or drawing, and player two has a blank piece of paper and a writing instrument. Player one must tell a story or describe the picture to player two, and player two must try to draw the described scene. At the end of the activity, the two players put the pictures side by side and compare the images.

This exercise tests participants’ listening and instruction-giving abilities. Typically, player two is not allowed to ask questions while drawing. However, you can change this rule and allow players to have a dialogue during the game instead of a one-sided conversation. You may even want to play the game both ways, using two different pictures, and judge whether the end images are more alike when players are allowed to talk back and forth during the exercise.

3. Taboo

Taboo is a word-based party game that requires creative thinking and communicating. At the start of each round, a player draws a card from the deck. Each card has a taboo word alongside a list of other banned words. The cardholder must help other players guess the phrase without using any of the words on the card. For example, if the word was coffee, other banned words might include brew, beans, cafe, caffeine, and java.

This exercise challenges players to think of alternate ways to explain concepts, which can be useful when teammates do not understand an idea the first time around.

You can play an unofficial version of Taboo online.

Check out more team building card and board games.

4. Mirror

Mirror is one of the most straightforward nonverbal communication games. Players partner up and face each other. One player is the leader, and the other the follower. The leader begins to move without speaking, and the follower matches each movement. Participants must rely entirely on body language. After a few minutes, the players switch roles and repeat the exercise.

5. Birthday Lineup

The Birthday Lineup is one of the easiest nonverbal communication games for big groups. Without speaking, participants must line up in chronological order by birth month and day. For example, participants could write down birthdays, or gesture by holding up fingers for the month and day. Once all players are in place, participants say their birthdays one by one, and reveal whether or not the line moves in perfect order.

Check out more large group icebreaker games.

6. Yes?

Yes? Is one of the most high-energy communication games. Eye contact is the most important form of communication in the activity. Players stand in a circle. The participant whose turn it is locks eyes with a teammate across the circle and asks, “yes?” to which the teammate responds, “yes.” The players then proceed to switch places. As the game goes on, players can start new chains so that more than one person moves or speaks at once. The more chains that are active, the harder time players have concentrating and responding. This game teaches players to remain alert and multitask in busy environments.

7. Blindfold Stroll

Blindfold Stroll is one of the best team building communication games. To do this activity:

  1. Set up an obstacle course
  2. Blindfold one player
  3. Ask other players to guide the player through the course by shouting directions.

To make the game more fun and exciting, you can time course completion or introduce traps and penalties. Whatever way you play, this activity emphasizes the need to give precise instructions, and gives teammates practice giving each other directions.

8. Lip Reading Liars

Lip Reading Liars is one of the most fun team communication games. You can play this game in-person, online, or in hybrid work settings. The premise of the game is that selected players must interpret the meaning of a scene without sound.

Each round, one or two players either wear noise-blocking earphones or turn the sound off on their computer. Then, two to four other players act out a scene for three minutes or less. The interpreters must try to read lips and body language to figure out the details of the scene. When the sketch is complete, then listeners take off the headphones or turn the audio back on and summarize the scene.

Sketches can either be improv or scripted. Check out more group improv games, and these improv games to play on Zoom.

9. Mad Gab

Mad Gab is one of the most fun verbal communication games. In this game, players read out a set of random words that initially seem like nonsense, yet sound like a common saying when read in the right way. Players must guess the phrase before time runs out.

For example, Woe Ark Fro Ma Ho Ma would be “work from home.”

Here is a list of Mad Gab Flashcards to use as starter prompts.

10. Another Way to Say

Another Way to Say is a game that challenges players to think of synonyms and alternate ways to say common phrases. A single player starts the round by saying a phrase. The other players volunteer similar sayings until out of options.

For example, if the starting sentence is “the end of the work day,” suggestions might include “quitting time,” “time to punch the clock,” “happy hour,” “overtime,” after-hours,” “rush hour,” “commute home,” and so on.

The exercise can either be a last-man standing competition where the player who continues to contribute longest wins the round, or players can work together to think up phrases. The point of the game is to show how many different ways there can be to express a thought.

Players are welcome to try to coin new phrases and use descriptive language, however the group can also challenge creative answers.

11. Questions, Statements, Exclamations

Questions, Statements, Exclamations is a communication activity that restricts participants to speaking in certain types of phrases. Three players act out a scene, with one for each of the word types. You do not have to use the statements in order, but must use all phrases equally. The game makes players think before speaking and give each other nonverbal cues.

Pro tip: Play Questions, Statements, Exclamations, Alliterations by adding a fourth player that can only speak in alliterative phrases.

12. In So Many Words

In So Many Words is one of the best communication skills games. This activity teaches participants to be more brief and express points concisely. To start the game, the leader says, “in # many words, tell me…..” Players then either write or speak their answers. The leader repeats the request, lowering the word count. Players must revise their answers to fit within the new word count, without losing the meaning of the original message.

For example, “In so many words, tell me how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

25 or less: Get peanut butter, jelly, bread, and a knife. Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread, jelly on the other. Combine slices, wet ingredients inside.

10 or less: Spread the ingredients on bread, then put the bread together.

5 or less: Peanut butter, jelly, bread, together.

You can also create a form or worksheet for teams to fill out with the short answers.

This game shows how the meaning of messages can change or stay the same depending on the number of words used, and can help teammates decide how lengthy or brief to be when sending emails, delivering updates, or giving presentations.

13. Shuffled Storyboards

Shuffled Storyboards is a storytelling game that encourages players to talk through a chain of events. To play the game, first split the group into teams. Give each team a randomly shuffled series of related illustrations. In five minutes or less, the team must put the cards in the sequence they think is correct, and come up with an accompanying story. Teammates will have to communicate why they believe an image comes before or after another picture, and work together on a coherent story. At the end of the activity, teams present their stories to the rest of the group.

Pro tip: After each team presents, the gamemaster can reveal the intended story, and if the two tales are radically different, then the audience can vote on which version is best.

14. Say It With Feeling

Say It With Feeling is a communication game that stresses emotional intelligence. Each round, a player receives a random phrase and a random emotion. The player must read the sentence in that specific style, and teammates must guess the feeling. The game gets really fun when the emotions are complex and specific, for instance, “the jittery feeling you get after being stuck in a meeting for two hours,” or “disoriented, like when you are unsure of which subway exit to take.”

The speaker can ask guessers to be more specific and award points accordingly.

15. Telephone

Telephone is one of the most popular communication games. To start the game, one player whispers a phrase to the next closest player. This process repeats until every player has heard the message. The last player in line says the sentence out loud, and the first player reveals how close the end phrase was to the beginning phrase. The game emphasizes clear communication and careful listening.

Another fun version of the game involves players taking turns alternately writing or drawing a phrase, and seeing how close the end result comes to the original meaning of the message.

16. Charades

Charades is one of the most classic nonverbal communication games for work. In this game, players take turns acting out words while the rest of the team guesses the phrase. Players can use a charades generator to come up with terms, and leaders can time rounds or allow participants to guess until correct. You can also play themed games, for instance, classic literature, movies about work, or moments from history.

Charades can improve communication skills because the game encourages participants to communicate in unconventional ways and to pay attention to body language.

17. Frostbite

Frostbite is a problem-solving game that requires good communication. The premise for this exercise is that players are arctic explorers who must build a shelter to withstand the harsh winter weather. However, due to a sudden blizzard, the group leader has frostbitten hands and the rest of the group is snowblind. The follower teammates wear blindfolds, and the leader must talk the group through building a shelter. Players can erect full tents, or build replicas of a shelter out of cards and tape. At the end of the activity, the gamemaster turns a fan on in front of the shelter to determine whether the hut can withstand the arctic winds.

18. Tree or Bob Ross?

Tree or Bob Ross? is a game where players figure out objects by asking a series of questions. Each round, a thinker decides on a random object, and guessers try to figure out the object by asking this or that style questions. The first question in every game is always, “is it more like a tree or Bob Ross?” The thinker must decide which category is closest and answer accordingly. For example, if the object was a pumpkin, then the answer would be tree. If the object was a wood nutcracker, then the thinker would use their best judgment when responding.

The game continues until players guess the answer or are too stumped to continue.

Check out more question games.

19. Guess the Emoji

Guess the Emoji is one of the easiest virtual communication games. Players send messages to each other using strings of emojis, and other players must decode those messages. The first player or team to figure out the phrase wins a point.

For example:

👃👍👩‍🎤👻 = Smells Like Teen Spirit

You can give the game a theme, such as songs, movie titles, or famous phrases, or leave prompts open-ended.

Check out more games to play on Slack.

20. Twenty Questions

Twenty Questions is one of the best communication activities for work. In this version of the exercise, a teammate chooses a phrase or concept. Then, other players must guess that thought by asking no more than twenty questions. Since there is a limit to the number of questions, players must come up with smart and thoughtful questions that quickly narrow down the options. Leaders can award each question a point value, and players who figure out the object quickly can earn more points. This activity teaches teammates how to effectively gather information, which can come in handy when collaborating and working on projects with busy colleagues.

21. Fill-in-the-blanks Comics

This exercise is a group storytelling activity that focuses on communication. First split the group into teams of three to five, then give each team a comic panel to complete. You can quickly gather materials by searching “comic strip with blank speech bubbles” in an image search. Or, you can use Canva to add speech bubbles to existing pictures. Give groups five or ten minutes to complete the comics, and then ask each team to share their creation with the rest of the group.

This activity encourages participants to pay attention to the environment, action, and characters in the strip to come up with convincing dialogue, as well as talking to each other to agree on the narrative.

Final Thoughts

Communication is one of the hardest soft skills to master. People have different styles and methods of communicating, and the possibility for misinterpretation and misunderstanding is high. It can also be hard to express ideas in a clear and understandable manner.

Communication games help teammates practice interacting and exchanging ideas in a fun and challenging yet low-pressure environment. These activities can improve teammates’ conversation and writing abilities, sharpen listening skills, and make participants more perceptive and mindful of messages. Not to mention, many of these exercises encourage players to communicate in new and unexpected ways, which can help them express themselves in different ways on the job.

Next, check out this list of trust building activities for work and this list of ways to improve team cooperation.

FAQ: Communication games

Here are answers to common questions about communication games. 

What are communication games? 

Communication games are activities that strengthen communication skills such as listening, interpreting body language, and giving directions. The purpose of these games is to prevent miscommunications and help teammates interact more clearly and concisely.

What are good communication games for work?

Good communication games for work include Blindfold Stroll, Tree or Bob Ross?, In So Many Words, and Taboo.

What are the best communication games you can play on Zoom?

The best communication games you can play on Zoom include Can You Hear Me Now?, Guess the Emoji, Lip Reading Liars, and Mad Gab.

How do you play communication games?

To play communication games, first choose a challenge. Next, gather your materials. Then split the group into teams or pairs, explain the rules, and start the clock. Most communication games require nothing more than paper and pencil to play, or no materials at all. When doing these activities, it is important to play in a quiet environment where participants can hear each other and focus.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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