Thursday, February 5, 2009

Non-Verbal Communication Workshop

Barbara asked me to explain how a person can take an online class in non-verbal communication. The class Margaret Fisk is teaching is designed quite well. It's broken into stages and lasts several weeks. The first week lots of exercises are posted and participants are asked to complete at least two of the exercises. The first exercise offers a baseline for how you, as a writer, thinks about non-verbal communication. There is a forum for questions and answers and daily feedback from the instructor and other students.

The first set of exercises asks the participants to be an active observer. For example, exercise 2, asked us to observe people at a mall, library, or other place where people congregate. As we observe we are to take notes on what people may be doing or how they may be acting. These notes will be based on non-verbal cues we get from the person observed. There are several questions we need to answer to complete your analysis. Then our notes are posted in the forum. Ms. Fisk and other students then comment on the posts.

Another exercise was to watch a movie without the sound on. Then we had to try to describe the non-verbal cues we saw based on body language, facial expressions, etc. These notes were also posted for Ms. Fisk and others to comment.

In the second set of exercises, we put what we learned into writing small scenes, using non-verbal communication. We used non-verbal descriptors such as pointed silently, shook his head, nodded, cringed, etc.

In Stage 1 of the lessons, we were pushed to identify aspects of non-verbal communication and in Stage 2, we use what we learned to perfect our writing techniques.

Barbara, I hope this helps. The class works quite well and I encourage anyone who is interested to check out the Forward Motion site at


  1. Penny,
    This is late, because I've been busy, but thank you so much for devoting an entire blog to me. I understand completely now what she is doing. I've done stuff like that within a poetry workshop and a few other classes and workshops. They are very helpful.

  2. Barbara, I'm glad I was able to clarify the workshop content. It was well worth my time and I was definitely pushed to excel.