Activity: Communicating as a Learning Experience

This activity will promote thinking about how we communicate and be a foundational exercise that can be referred to throughout the mentoring relationship.  It will encourage reflection, planning and communication moving forward in a project.


This activity will give the mentor and mentee an opportunity to each practice communication and listening skills in a low-stress environment. It may highlight strengths and points of improvement in communication, and inform partner communication moving forward.


20 minutes


 2 chairs, a writing utensil, paper, and 2 objects. Slides: Communicating as a Learning Experience (optional)


Mentor and Mentee


  1. Sit back to back. One person with an object; the other with paper and pen.
  2. The person with the object assumes the role of speaker and the other assumes the role of listener. 
  3. The speaker should take 3 minutes to describe the object. 
  4. The listener should use that description to draw the object. 
  5. Have a conversation, reflecting about the experience. Explore what you learned about yourself and the other person:  
    • What were the assumptions you made in describing and listening? How do these assumptions relate to your lived experience? 
    • What did you find particularly helpful about the description? 
    • What would you do differently next time? 
  6. Repeat the steps above in the opposite role with a new object.
  7. How might these reflections help you with communication in your relationship?


  • Perform this early in your mentoring relationship or project, because it can be a foundational experience to refer back to throughout. 
  • The listener should not ask questions, and should instead be focusing on the speaker’s word choice and communication.


Download the instructions for this activity.

noun_back to back_1925939

Make a copy of these slides (file>make copy) to edit and use in your own presentation of this activity