The difference between a role-play and a simulation is that in a role-play, participants play somebody else, while in a simulation, they play themselves.
Select a situation you want to be enacted. Take into account what you want to explore and why. A simple situation is best e.g. a misunderstanding with an employee due to language barrier in a shop/train station etc. Somebody could play the member of staff, somebody the person speaking a foreign language, and someone else interpreter.
Explain the situation carefully, including the groups represented and the physical layout. If issuing roles, never force someone to play something they are uncomfortable with. Give them a few minutes to get into their role. All non-participants act as observers.
The facilitator stops the simulation or role-play when enough issues have been uncovered, the exercise comes to a natural end or people want to stop. The play should also be stopped if a participant shows great tension or gets too involved. Have a short break, de–role (see below) and then evaluate the exercise.
Evaluation allows the observers to comment on proceedings. Leave space for discussion. What have participants learnt and how will they apply this in real life? Observers should be encouraged to make positive comments on what they have seen. Rather than saying what participants should have done, it is better if they use language like ““Another option that you might try is…”, “Perhaps this would work…”, “I learned … from your tactic and would like to try…”
After any role-play it’s important to de-role, to come out of the role and leave any strong emotions behind. Assess the level of de-roleing required, depending on the intensity of the role-play. A simple shake or a few deep breaths may be enough. Other options include taking a break, a physical game, or a visualisation that takes people’s attention elsewhere (to a pleasant memory, for example).