By Utah National Parks Council
Sep 10, 2017

Let Them Lead: Communicating Well (part 2)

In order to reach your eternal potential and do the work the Lord has for you, you need to know how to communicate and listen well.

“Many articles in Church literature have dealt with the important art of listening. They support a proverb that teaches this vital lesson: ‘Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise’ (Prov. 19:20.) Surely wisdom will come as we listen to learn from children, parents, partners, neighbors, Church leaders, and the Lord. “ Russell M. Nelson, Listen to Learn, April 1991


Prepare yourself spiritually

What is effective communication? How does it relate to good listening? How would using better listening help your communication skills, help class or quorum leaders and individually help the young men and women?

This session is an opportunity to continue the Day One session on Communicating Well. It is also a chance to review the core information from the sessions on the Teaching and Leading EDGE, and Resolving Conflicts. Prayerfully study the following scriptures and resources. What do you feel inspired to share with the youth? Exodus 33:11 (Lord speaks to Moses) 
2 Samuel 23:2 (Speak by the Spirit)
Acts 3:22–23 (Every soul, which will not hear) 
Heb. 13:16 (But to do good and to communicate) 
James 3:13  (shew out of a good conversation his works)  
1 Nephi 3:7 (I will go and do) 
2 Ne. 28:30 (lend an ear unto my counsel) 
D&C 1:1 (listen together) 
D&C 1:38 (the voice of my servants is my voice) 
Russell M. Nelson “Listen to Learn” April 1991 
Marvin J. Ashton “Family Communications” Oct. 1978 
Henry B. Eyring “Listen Together” 1989 
Winnifred Jardine “Listen with All of You” Feb. 1974 
Parents, Are You Listening?” Ensign Feb. 1971 
Warp Speed—the Message Toss Game 
Video: Voice of the Spirit Other resources from your personal experience and inspiration

Teaching in the Savior’s way

View: Discussing questions to see how well the students listen to each other and the teacher. 

Remember the Savior listened to those He taught. He listened and watched their expressions to better understand them. What can you do to understand the interests and needs of the youth you teach? How will this influence the way you teach them?

Make connections

During the first few minutes of this session, help the youth make connections between what they are learning in various settings (such as class or quorum meetings, mutual, skill challenges, personal study or other experiences). How can you help them see the relevance of what they’re learning in their lives? The ideas below might help: 

  • Invite the youth to share an experience that helped them understand the things they learned about communicating well. 
  • Ask groups to consider how their communication has changed over this course. Have they been actively working on their communication skills? Have them share examples. 

Learn Together 

Each of the activities below will help the youth understand the importance of communicating well, including messages not spoken. Complete each of the three sections by prayerfully selecting one or more activities in each section that works for you and will work best for your squad. Choose from these activities: 

Note: Be familiar with Communicating Well Part 1 from earlier in the course. The communication skills presented in that session will be added to in this presentation. 

  1. Opening 
    When the group has gathered for the session but hasn’t come to order, say in a normal speaking voice, “If you can hear my voice, clap once.” Wait a moment, then say, “If you can hear my voice clap twice.” And then, “If you can hear my voice, clap three times” (Typically it takes no more than three claps to get everyone’s attention). Explain that you’ve just used a means of communication that is a bit unusual but effective. Communicating effectively has been important during this course and is a subject worthy of revisiting as the course comes to a close today. Remind the group that the first teaching session of this course was also about Communicating Well. Ask participants: Why would a course on leadership begin and end with sessions on communicating? Entertain answers. An obvious one is that almost every part of leadership involves sharing ideas with other people – in short, communicating. 
  2. Describe and practice effective communication 

    1. Choose from these activities: 
    • Describe Aristotle’s model for effective communication. Three thousand years ago the Greek philosopher Aristotle studied communication and devised a model that is still useful today. (Draw this model on a flip chart).  

      Explain that Aristotle’s model tells us that all communication has three parts—a message, a sender, and a receiver. Ask for examples from the course. For each example, ask who was the sender, what was the message and who were the receivers? Accept a variety of answers. Give positive responses to those who participate. 
    • Play Warp Speed—the Message Toss Game. Then conduct a post-game reflection stressing communication and listening skills. Something a speaker can do to help the listener receive a communication is to package the message so it is easy to hear and to remember. The balls in the Message Toss Game were easy to toss and to catch. Why? (Good size, not too heavy, shaped right for catching). Instead of balls, what if each team had tossed a 50-pound bag of sand? (Would have had to repackage the contents before tossing. Put the sand into smaller bags, for example, that can be tossed.) A sender needs to package a message in a way that it can be easily tossed to the receiver, and easily caught. 
    • New writers use the five W’s and an H to package a story (Note: Write these on the flip chart as you say them). They are Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. For example, if we were to write a newspaper story about Warp Speed—the Message Toss game that was just played, what would we plug into each W and the H? 
    • Who— Each squad 
    • What— Played the Message Toss game 
    • When— During the NYLT session on Communicating Well 
    • Where— The session meeting area 
    • Why— To experience Aristotle’s model of a message, a sender, and a receiver 
    • How— The squad passed a ball in a pattern that included each member once. Then more balls were added until there were as many balls being passed around as there were squad members. 

    How can these help you communicate effectively? 

    • Explain, we’ve packaged leadership messages for you and placed the package on the back of the NYLT Leadership Compass card you have been carrying with you. That’s a way to make the message as easy to remember as possible. Go through examples of leadership lessons packaged in a simple way (EDGE, stages of team development, EAR, etc.). We’ve packaged a message and we’ve sent it. According to the Aristotle model, is communication complete? (No. In addition to a message and a sender, there also needs to be a receiver). 
    • Other activities to demonstrate effective communication as you are inspired. 
    • Do the Paired Communication activity to help youth practice sharing new ideas using effective communication. Ask each participant to write down an improvement they want to make in their ward based on what they have learned this week. Encourage them to organize their thoughts by using Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Pair up the participants. One person in each pair plays the role of the home ward member. The other acts as him or herself discussing his or her ideas for changes in the ward with the friend. Use Tools for Effective Communication
      Choose from these activities: 

      • Talk about the listening part of communication. How can you tell if someone is catching your message? Have the youth share their thoughts.  
      • Get eight tribe members who are willing to act to use their best body language and inflection as they say these eight sentences, but each emphasizing only the bolded words  
      • I didn’t say you had an attitude problem 
      • I didn’t say you had an attitude problem 
      • I didn’t say you had an attitude problem 
      • I didn’t say you had an attitude problem 
      • I didn’t say you had an attitude problem 
      • I didn’t say you had an attitude problem 
      • I didn’t say you had an attitude problem 
      • I didn’t say you had an attitude problem 

      Looking back at the first day, we talked about body language; how does that relate to what we just did? 

      After the first person has had a chance to present his or her ideas, the pair switches the roles of the friend and participant so that the second participant has a chance to present ideas. The person who is listening to the presentation can use the Communication Skills Checklist and Start, Stop, Continue to evaluate the speaker’s communication skills, including body language, tone of voice, eye contact, etc. Allow four minutes for rewriting and three minutes for each presentation and feedback, for a total of 10 minutes 

      Ask participants to share some of their experiences from their practice of presenting ideas. What went well? What was not effective? How can they use the skills of effective communications to better share their ideas?  

    • Explain that you will provide one last set of communication tools. Ask participants to use this e checklist to give you feedback on your body language. Encourage them to frame their evaluation as an SSC—Start, Stop, Continue. What can you start doing to improve your body language? What should you stop doing? What is a strength and is working well that you should continue to do? 
  3.  Among the most important things to look for in an audience are these: 
    • Are people paying attention? 
    • Are they making eye contact with you? 
    • Are they nodding their heads now and then? 
    • Is their body position open or closed? (Arms and legs crossed may indicate an unwillingness to hear what you are saying.) 
    • Other activities to practice communication as you are inspired.


  4. Effective Communication with Adults 
    Choose from these activities: 
  • Ask participants to describe some of their experiences in communicating with adults. In what ways is it different than communicating with their peers? The same tools that work well for communicating with peers are also effective when communicating with adults. Perhaps they are even more important. Communicating well with adults may mean getting rid of bad-habit words: 
  • “Like” and “You know.”  
  • Consider how this sounds: “We are all, like, you know, daughters of like our heavenly father you know, who you know, like loves us.” 
  • “So I was all, like, you know, on my honor and, like, do our best and, like, do your, like, duty, you know, to God and my, like, country . . . .” 
  • “Like” and “You know.” They are part of a language of many youth, but they get in the way of communicating well with anyone except your close friends. 

Ask, how else might your language change when you speak to adults? 

  • Let’s say you go home after this course full of great ideas for making your class or quorum better. You want to talk with your adviser about changes you want to help make in your group. No matter what message you want to share, and no matter who your audience, a five-step process is almost certain to succeed: 
  1. Here is the reason I am asking for some of your time 
  2. Let me share an idea with you 
  3. Let me summarize the situation for you (who, what, where, when, why, and how) 
  4. Reinforce the benefits (Why it makes sense, how it helps us reach our goals, how it helps us complete an action plan, what’s in it for them. 
  5. Let’s discuss the steps to turn this idea into action. 

Repeat the paired communication activity above, but this time have participants act out sharing an idea with an adult advisor. Have them reorganize their message using the five steps just discussed. The listener will pretend he is the class or quorum adviser. Afterwards, ask participants to share some of their experiences presenting to an “adult.” What went well? What was not effective? What can they do differently next time? 

  • Ask, what if your adult leader isn’t enthusiastic about the new idea? What can you do? Does that mean you shouldn’t present any more ideas? Discuss. 
  • Other activities that demonstrate communication with adults as you are inspired. 

Invite to Act

Each leadership skill should be followed with a reflection.  All you have to do is remember, reflection is simply the process of the youth talking abouttheir experiences immediately after an exercise or activity with a little bit of wise moderating.  

Reflecting on an activity or lesson only needs to take a few minutes. Get the youth to contribute by asking them to find the values that lie beneath the surface of what they just did. Can they assign spiritual “likening” to the activity? We can make any experience more meaningful and effective if we reflect upon it.  

Without warning, toss a tennis ball to someone in the group. Then, without saying anything, let someone else know you’re going to toss a ball to him (Use your eyes, hand gestures, and body language). Toss the ball. 

Remind the group that effective communication has three parts: a message, a sender, and a receiver. 

Each of the three plays a role in communication.  Ask the youth how they will use what they learned about communication to change their actions in the future. What will they do differently today, tomorrow, this week, and this year? Have them write down their ideas. 


This series was adapted from National Youth Leader Training to help leaders teach LDS youth leadership skills so that those leaders can confidently “Let Them Lead.”

Authors: Maria Milligan and Darryl Alder | LDS NYLT writing team; at Utah National Parks Council, Maria is Chief of Staff and Darryl is Strategic Initiatives Director. Together they help LDS Stakes meet their camping and training needs on a customized basis.

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