Are you too young to remember that old Telephone Game? – SCN Encourager

I am!

Not really.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 8.07.56 PMI just wanted see what a big lie in the opening line would look like.

(I kinda like the looks of it… so watch out! I may try this again soon!)

Of course, I’m old enough to remember this game.

I’m even old enough to remember when a phone had a circular dial, hung on a wall in the kitchen, and had a dumb tangly cord.

The rules to the old Telephone Game were simple.

A group of people get together in a circle or stand in a straight line.

One person then gets the hilarity started by whispering a sentence in the ear of the person on their left; something like “Your invitation to the MSPRA PSD about FB and YT will be emailed ASAP.”

Everyone then– one by one – attempts to whisper the sentence to the person next to them (exactly what they heard whispered to them mere seconds ago) until the sentence eventually arrives to the ears of very last person in line.

At this point, the last person then announces the “final” message aloud and everyone has a good laugh about it because invariably the final version of the message is a far cry from the original.
Telephone at 7.40.59 PM

Sometimes there is even a paid facilitator in the room who will lead everyone in a discussion about how messages can get twisted and will often become rumors with lives of their own.

Usually these post-game discussions are funnier that the game itself. (C’mon. You know this is true!)

Now, given all of the communication principles involved and human dynamics that come along with any group, it shouldn’t surprise you to now find out the Telephone Game is making a big comeback on the “message coordination” training circuit.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 8.54.05 PMPlus, given the financial state of many of our school districts, the fact that this game is super cheap and requires absolutely no prior tech set-up could be a major factors, too.

Here’s how many organizations are sharpening up their messaging using the new version of the Telephone Game.

Imagine one of them has a new key message it wants the community to know.

The key message can be anything; a brief value-based mission statement, the brief rationale supporting a new pilot program, or a straight-out 25 word elevator pitch.

Well, if the employees of the organization (up and down the line, at every level) are unable to accurately pass along the intended key message from one to another, what do you think are the chances of the public ever getting it right?

You can see how this bumps the old Telephone Game up to a whole new level – where stressed-out participants are eventually challenged to demonstrate their ability to convey a tight, not mish-mashed, organizational message.


It seems like a high-stakes standardized assessment is now an essential part of the new Telephone Game.

I think I like the old one better.

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