“Monologue/Dialogue” is a game that highlights the importance of communication in a creative way and for instance can be used as an icebreaker in inter- and transdisciplinary groups. Especially in the beginning of science-society collaborations it is crucial to develop a common understanding about the system, the challenges and aims that will be addressed during the common research. But academics from different disciplines, stakeholders from business, services or politics may “speak a different language”. This game draws attention to communication – to both speaking and listening.
- In advance: prepare a simple abstract illustration (e.g. a loop with an arrow in a box).
- Provide a brief introduction about the importance of communication in science-society collaborations.
- Ask the participants for four volunteers, who will form two groups. They will be involved in a drawing exercise, but do not need to have good drawing skills.
- Each of the two groups will need to identify one “artist” and one “speaker”.
- Ask one group to leave the room.
- Ask the remaining group to come to the front. The artist is placed in front of a flipchart, with his/her back to the participants so that the participants can see the flipchart. Position the speaker in a way that he/she cannot see the flipchart and give him/her the illustration. Make sure that the artist cannot see the illustration
- Tell them the goal of their exercise, which is to produce a drawing that presents a duplicate of the illustration. But there are some rules to follow: 1. The speaker has 3 minutes to describe the illustration (only by using words), but is not allowed to see what the artist is drawing. 2. The artist may not see the illustration and may not ask the speaker any questions.
- Stop the team after 3 minutes. The speaker can see what the artist has drawn and the artist can see the illustration. You can also show the illustration to the other participants. Artist and speaker can sit down again.
- Hide the first drawing and ask the second group to enter the room again. They will have the same task, but with different rules: The speaker again has 3 minutes to describe the illustration and the artist is not allowed to see the illustration. But the speaker can see what the artist is drawing and the artist may ask questions.
- Stop the team after 3 minutes as well. Then show them all three paintings – the original illustration and the both drawings. Discuss the results with the participants.
In most cases the second drawing will much better reflect the original illustration. This group could use a two-way conversation – a dialogue. The speaker has the possibility to see if his/her instructions are useful and can correct the artist; at the same time the artist can ask if he/she is unsure or has not accurately understood the instructions. On the other hand the first group had a one-way conversation – a monologue, where feedback is not possible.