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Thinking Well Activity Series: Playing Oratory Jenga

word jenga

This Thinking Well activity is designed for program participants to practice communication skills in either social or professional settings. It is designed for use in a group setting with a clear leader for the activity:


Participants in the Thinking Well program who near completion of their cognitive training classes regularly express the desire to find employment. The computer-based exercises of cognitive remediation help improve their daily functioning.  Activities like our modified version of the game Jenga can help bridge the gap between that training and the real-world settings where those skills apply.

Oratory Jenga was created as a Thinking Well bridging activity to help participants sharpen their unrehearsed speaking skills and formulate quick conversational responses in social interactions. These skills can be used in a number of real-life scenarios such as job interviewing, formal presentations and social conversations.

To play Oratory Jenga, you must first type up 54 open-ended questions and tape them to each Jenga block.  Sample questions might include, “My favorite time of year is…” or “I am a good friend because…”

Once you are ready to play the game, stack the blocks in a tower and ask a player to remove a block in standard Jenga fashion.  The player then stands before the group and improvises an answer to the question for a period of at least 30 seconds and up to 3 minutes.  Other players are encouraged to give positive feedback only, so everyone feels safe to share. When it is the instructor’s turn to answer a question, she can model bad or ineffective speaking techniques for the group and ask the other players if they can pin-point what she does wrong: for example, mumbling, slouching, not making eye contact, fidgeting with objects etc.

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How this activity benefits participants:

  • Teaches effective communication skills
  • Practices spontaneity in formal and informal social/vocational situations
  • Habituates participants to feel comfortable speaking in front of others
  • Teaches effective management of time in speaking situations
  • Reinforces knowledge about behaviors to avoid in an interview or formal speaking situation

 This activity was developed by Laurel House Employment Specialist Elizabeth Fouracre, LMSW, and members of the Thinking Well team.

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Don’t have the game? Get here:

Jenga Classic Game

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