The Telephone Game

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The telephone game is a good fun way of making a serious point about the importance of good communication in organizations.

Good For

Any training which focuses on communication and communication skills.

It's a fun game and energiser, and facilitated well makes a serious point.

It demonstrates the importance of listening, and checking you have understood correctly before taking action or passing a message on.


The length of this exercise will depend on the number of people involved, but will generally work in 10 minutes with a 5-10 minute debrief.

You will need

This a simple exercise, that doesn't require a lot of materials.

The Telephone Game


Get everyone in your training session to sit or stand in a circle.

Tell the group that you are going to start them off by giving the first person in the group a message, which they have to pass on by whispering to the person next to them.

Give the first person a phrase or a message. You can write this on a card, or whisper it, but if you use a card, this must NOT be shown to the rest of the group.

They only get one chance, the phrase cannot be repeated, the receiver of the message must turn to the person next to them and repeat the message which they heard.

Make this exercise pacey, by pressuring the group around time, they are more likely to make a mistake which can be useful to consider in your discussions afterwards. This is especially useful if you are running this in a call centre environment, where queuing calls require people to wrap up calls quickly.

Your message can be something such as:-

"Mrs Windsor will arrive on the 3.30 train, she needs a cart to take her up the hill to see Mr Block"

"He is looking for his khaki's so that he can join Joe and John for the remembrance parade"

"You need to collect the package from SN4 7DF. If no one is there, it will have been left in the bin under the tree"

"Charlie cheered as he chomped on chunks of chicken, while the champion changed chairs"

"Fifteen out of four hundred people who worked in purchasing were promoted between September and November 2014"

The aim is to whisper the message "passing it on" from person to person.

Each person can only say the phrase once, and it must be whispered.

The phrase at the end usually bears no resemblance to the phrase that you gave the first person.

The famous example of this was said to have happened during World War One, when a message passed from the trenches to Head Quarters arrived as "Send three and fourpence, we're going to a dance".

The message that had started out was "Send reinforcements, we're going to advance"

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