Nathan Minns


Time-Travel Tech Talk

Experience a unique game that transports you to 300 years ago. Hone your communication skills, clarify misconceptions, and explore active listening.


Hand out a card to each participant with an object written on it. Make sure everyone has a partner. Ask one person in each pair to raise their hand. This person, the “Explainer” will be the first one to explain the object on their card to their partner, the “Time Traveler.”

Here’s the twist: the Time-Traveler is role-playing as someone from 300 years in the past. The Time-Traveler is unfamiliar with modern objects and needs to try to understand the Explainer’s description, keeping in mind what didn’t exist 300 years ago. Once the Explainer is done, ask the Time-Traveler to summarize their understanding. This reinforces active listening and provides an opportunity for the Explainer to clarify any misconceptions.

Now, switch roles. The Time-Traveler becomes the Explainer, and vice versa. Repeat the process.

When both rounds are completed, gather the group for a debrief. Discuss learnings and reflections from the exercise.


This activity shows us that it’s easy to forget not everyone has the same knowledge we do. So, when we’re talking to others, it’s critical to remember who they are, and what they might already understand, and adjust our message accordingly. This is especially important as adaptable collaborators, as it is essential to consider the listener’s perspective and adapt your message for clear comprehension. This is often the difference between being understood and shouting into a vacuum. Communication is far smoother when we adjust our language to match our listeners’ expectations.

Remember, effective communication is a two-way street. It’s not just about speaking our minds, but making sure the listener understands our point. This game highlights the importance of explaining things clearly, especially when the ideas or objects might be new or complex to others. Good communication doesn’t stop when we’re done talking; it truly ends when the other person fully grasps what we’re saying. Also, this activity emphasizes the power of active listening. The step of summarizing the explanation forced us to really understand the message, not just hear the words.

Finally, playing the role of someone from the past helps us to appreciate how far we’ve come, showcasing the amazing pace of human innovation. It’s an exciting way to reflect on past achievements and anticipate what incredible advancements the future might bring.

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