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Active Listening Exercise

Purpose: A group exercise highlighting active listening skills. 


  • Exercise requires audience to group in 2’s.
  • Ask for one volunteer from each group to be a story teller to the other– need a 2 minute (ish) story (e.g. my last holiday; favourite hobby).
  • Take the other outside the room and give out attached briefing, and brief in accordingly.
  • Back in room, carry out exercise in pairs.


  • Instruction sheet
  • Active Listener’s Brief
  • Debrief questions

Active Listener’s Brief: You will be listening to your partner for a period of 2 minutes.

For the first 30 seconds:

  • Don’t make eye contact
  • Fiddle with a pen / ring
  • Don’t make any listening noises

Next 30 seconds:

  • Look partner in the eye
  • Nod head
  • Look interested

Next 30 seconds:

  • Do all of above but also make encouraging sounds e.g. ‘yes’; ‘right’.

Final 30 seconds:

  • All of above plus ask some questions to develop the speaker’s theme.


  • How did it feel as the storyteller?
  • What did you notice?
  • What effect did it have on you? (most delegates say that it was pretty uncomfortable in the first 30 seconds)



Author: Bryan Edwards

Source: Bryan Edwards ABC Training Solutions 12 Badsey Lane Evesham Worcestershire U.K. WR11 3EZ Tel: 01386 761575

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