Introduction to Communication Print

A Lesson Plan from Life Planning Education: A Youth Development Program (Chapter Three)

NOTE:  Life Planning Education (LPE) is currently being revised. The printed/for-sale version includes an older version of this lesson plan. Please make sure you have looked at the PDF of Life Planning Education before purchasing - that is the version that is available to buy.  

Purpose: To clarify what communication is and what makes it effective

Materials: Newsprint and markers or board and chalk; Leader’s Resource, Communication

Time: 20 to 30 minutes

Planning Notes:

  • Read the Leader’s Resource, Communication. Keep in mind the points it makes as you facilitate the exercises on communication.
  • Prepare a poster-sized diagram for use in Step 3.


  1. Write the word communication on the board or newsprint and ask participants to give examples of ways they communicate.  List their responses, adding others from the list below, as appropriate:
    • Talking face to face
    • Talking on the phone
    • Writing an e-mail
    • Creating a video 
    • Participating in an online forum
    • Texting
    • Instant messaging or chat
    • Telling a story
    • Acting
    • Giving a speech
    • Sending non-verbal signals with posture or gestures
    • Making a face
    • Writing a poem
    • Singing a song.
  2. Ask someone to explain the point of communication. Help participants articulate that communicating means sending a message from one person to others.
  3. Display the diagram illustrating this model of communication:
  4. Explain the elements in the model: The sender creates and transmits the message.  The receiver is the person (or group) who receives and responds to the message.  The message includes both the sender's information and also the receiver’s interpretation of the message.  Feedback is the way the receiver acknowledges the message and transmits information about the message received and also how the sender interprets that acknowledgment.
  5. Read the example of communication here:
    Marcie and Tanya are talking. Marcie says, “I don't think I want to go to the party tonight. William is going to be there.  I think I'll just stay home and watch television.”

    Ask the group the following questions:

    • Who is the sender? (Answer: Marcie)
    • Who is the receiver? (Answer: Tanya)
    • What message is Marcie sending to Tanya?  (Several possible messages include: “1 don't want to go to the party because I'm mad at William and he's going to be there.” “I want to go to the party, but I want you to tell me that William likes me and wants me to be at the party.” “Something is going on between me and William and I want to tell you about it.”)  What other interpretations can the participants come up with?

    Make the point that the message is not just what a person says, but also the meaning of that message.  Meaning takes more than one form. That is, it can be the meaning(s) as intended by the sender and the meaning(s) as interpreted by the receiver. Sometimes, the sender may have more than one meaning and/or the receiver may understand more than one meaning.

    Make the point that feedback is the way the receiver lets the sender know she or he got a message and the way the sender finds out if the receiver correctly understood the message.
  6. Review the scenario between Marcie and Tanya. Ask the group what Tanya could say to Marcie to clarify the message received (give Marcie feedback).  Several possibilities include:
    • Tanya can ask a question: “Marcie, are you saying you don't like William anymore?”
    • Tanya can tell Marcie she doesn't understand: “l guess I don't really understand why you don't want to go.  I thought you liked William.”
    • Tanya can repeat the message she thinks Marcie sent: “Marcie, it sounds like you are worried about seeing William at the party.”

      What other ways could Tanya clarify what Marcie meant?
  7. Point out that any one of these responses opens the door for Marcie to communicate again with Tanya and give additional information.  Without feedback from Tanya, Marcie will not know if Tanya misunderstood and Tanya may never know what Marcie meant.  If Tanya asks no questions, Marcie may not tell her friend what she is really feeling.
  8. Tell the group that poor communication can result from any breakdown in the communication model:
    •    The sender fails to send a clear message.
    •    The receiver does not listen carefully and fails to get the correct message.
    •    The receiver fails to clarify the message by giving feedback to the sender.
    •    The sender does not acknowledge and/or respond to the feedback.

    Emphasize that poor communication causes problems in families and relationships, with co-workers, and in other situations.  Tell the group that the next few activities will help them learn and practice some of the basics of good communication.
  9. Conclude the activity using the discussion points below.
Discussion Points:
  1. What do you think about the communication model?
  2. Have you ever had difficulty sending a message?  What happened?  Why is it sometimes difficult to say what we really mean?
  3. Have you ever tried to communicate and been misunderstood?  What happened?  What could you have done differently?
  4. What happens when communication breaks down between you and your friends?  (Answers may include, but are not limited to: the sender may get angry or frustrated when the message is not interpreted correctly; the receiver may get hurt feelings if he/she thinks the sender has sent a negative message; a job may be done incorrectly because the receiver did not understand the message; a relationship may end because two people have not been able to communicate clearly.)

Life Planning Education, Advocates for Youth, Updated 2009.

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