What is it?
A game to encourage better communication using only words and pictures.
Number of Participants
- Pen or Pencil
- Computer and/or Phone (if playing virtually)
- Timer (if playing in-person)
This game can be played in person or virtually! Please note the virtual adaptions below.
- Have small pieces of blank paper in a stack. Stack will be qual to the number of people playing.
- If you have 6 people, each person will get a stack of 6 pieces of paper.
- Scrap paper is good – even index card size is perfect!
- Divide the group in half.
- Half of the people will start their stack by drawing a simple picture.
- The other half will start their stack by writing a word, sentence, or phrase.
- Distribute the group in a circle so that drawers and writers are in every-other position. (We recommend playing in a circle.)
- Odd number are OK too!
- Be ready to time each round – a minute is usually enough time.
- At the end of the first round, each participant passes their stack to their left.
- The receiver will look at what was given to them, place that paper on the bottom of the stack, and use the blank paper that is now on top to do the opposite.
- If they received a drawing, write.
- If the person received text, draw.
- Continue until each person receives their original stack.
- Show the group what you started with and what you ended with – I promise you will laugh!
If doing this exercise virtually, we recommend doing one ‘stack’ at a time. I created the sample below with my team virtually and sent the following adjustments (everyone had previously played in person and understood the activity).
- Send the order of participation so everyone knows who to send their interpretation to and include a note if they would be a drawer or a writer (just to make clear).
- Drawers: Draw your interpretation of the phrase using a computer based tool (maybe Microsoft Paint), your phone, or just hand draw and take a picture. Email to the next person.
- Writers: Type your interpretation and email it to the next person.
- Everyone must start a new email when sending your interpretation and only send to the person next in line. Don’t forward the previous interpretation that you received. I also recommend using the subject line “Telepictionary”.
- Once the chain gets back to the first person, everyone can send their responses to someone to compile. (I had everyone BCC me when they passed along their responses to the next person in line.)
- Once compiled, share in a weekly meeting or email out to everyone that participated!
Example from our Netmind Team
“Fireworks are loud but beautiful”
“So mad she could explode!”
Simple text and pictures can easily get misinterpreted when used alone. I work with a group of really smart people, and you see how quickly we got off track and ended up with “So mad she could explode!” from the starting phrase of “Fireworks are loud but beautiful”. Just imagine if the start of the conversation was something of real business value.
When possible, it is best to use a combination of communication tools. However, having a direct face-to-face conversation (this includes Zoom) is always best.