Overview – Role plays

Role plays are a form of improvisational drama where actors (or employees) adopt and act out various roles to represent a situation or event to an audience. Role plays are a valuable communication tactic because they showcase in a real-life way the experiences or situations that require improvement.

This helps employees empathise with the situation so they can more readily and objectively identify ways for improvement. Role plays enact ‘before’ and ‘after’ scenarios. The audience watches the ‘before’ scenario and offers suggestions on what can be improved and why. The ‘after’ scenario is then based on their feedback. This fosters employee engagement and buy-in.

Grey TickThis tactic is useful for:


Highlighting the pitfalls and opportunities of certain practices so employees can identify what works well and what doesn’t. This makes them more competent in applying the practice in their work environment.
Modelling best-practice skills.
Demonstrating how small changes in a practice can deliver big results.
Fostering the sharing of ideas and experiences.

cloudyThings to consider:


Identify the issue, behaviour or event that requires employee buy-in for change and improvement.
Research thoroughly the cultural background of the issue, behaviour or event to establish insights about the beliefs and values being applied and the language being used. This gives authenticity to the role play.
Create a number of scenarios. Develop scripts to bring those scenarios to life in the style and language of the organisation. The scenarios should not be tightly scripted but need to be well defined to hit the right emotional levels.
Source actors, or employees with thespian abilities, to play the roles.
Rehearse before a small group of employees who are representative of the actual audience to seek their feedback and views. Refine the script as necessary.
On the day, act out the ‘before’ role play to the audience. Invite them to workshop ways in which the scenario can be improved. Seek feedback from the audience.
Have the actors role-play the ‘after’ scenario using the audience’s suggestions for improving the issue, behaviour or event.

Tone BulbHelpful tip:


Ensure the role- play actors are well rehearsed for the ‘before’ scenario. They also need to be able to improvise the ‘after’ role play in response to the audience’s suggestions. Performing the role plays without reading from scripts enables the actors to adjust their performances to reflect the nuances of individual audiences. This helps to engage the audience and build authenticity.
Category: Face to Face