From: Power Up Your Teaching of Communication Skills with Techniques for Business and Performing Arts – Richard Snyder
Engaging Openings Part I: Establish psychological safety. This is to address defense of self. It’s not so critical for a class on putting in a Central Line, but it is critical for communication work. Performing Arts Schools have been dealing with this for a very long time. Performers are constantly being asked to change how they present themselves in big ways. It’s threatening, even for them. I took a class called Personal Clown. At least one student would break down and cry in every class (beat) and sometimes it was me. The basic idea is to start with very safe activities and increase risk as is appropriate to the group. The classic way to start is by reveals. This is where the learners reveal things about themselves to each other. This isn’t deep psychological stuff. It should feel easy and light. I want to give you 4 families of reveals:
- Something about Self,
Something in Small Talk,
Something They Know and
Something They Want.
Let’s try a few of these. Here’s a Something about Self reveal:
Turn to a neighbor and tell them your name , how you got here today.
This is the most basic reveal. Easy to forget, but the first step to establishing psychological safety. They revealed something and it was OK. So the process is Reveal something, it was OK, reveal something it was OK, etc. To give you any idea what a small increase in risk would be like, try this one.
Share with your partner something weird and quirky about yourself.
Now let’s visit the second family, Something in Small Talk. These are fun questions that are like small talk. It’s great if you can have these relate to the topic at hand. For example, if the class was on maintaining a positive attitude in your communication, even with difficult people, then we do a fun reveal that fosters positive attitude:
New neighbor: Favorite Flavor of Ice cream and your favorite brand of it
You can have a lot of fun with these. Here’s one I got in a recent Acting Class.
Same neighbor: The type of air you most love to breath.
Take two minutes and have a brief conversation on what it was like to make those small reveals. How do you feel now in comparison to before you did these simple reveals?
The third and fourth families are great to share in a circle so that you can hear their answers.
Something They Know is where they reveal what they already know about the topic. For example, if the class was on how to assume leadership, then a good question would be:
How do you normally assume leadership at work?
Something they Want is what they want from your class. The classic question is:
What is one thing you would like to get out of this class?
This is a great reveal… they are revealing what they want… and it’s great information for you as the teacher.
So we are off to a good start with our reveals.