When you think of the word “improv” what comes to mind? Is it the show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” or maybe Saturday Night Live? The core of improv involves clever on-your-feet thinking that usually results in hilarious scenarios. While improv can be found on TV and inside comedy clubs, it can also be used in the workplace to build relationships between your colleagues!
You and your co-workers don’t have to be the next comedic geniuses to benefit from improvisational team-building activities. The following exercises are great ideas to build bridges within your organization.
1. Count to 20 as a Team
How to Play: The goal of this exercise is to count to 20 as a team, but it isn’t as easy as it seems. Have your team stand in a circle while looking at the ground or closing their eyes, so they cannot look at the other players. Somebody in the group must take the leap by starting the exercise by saying “one”. The challenge is that nobody knows who will say each number. If than one person speaks at once, the entire group must begin back at number one.
Tip: Encourage everyone in your group to participate, even if they are shy or nervous. A teamwork mentality will help each person be responsible for reaching a common goal, even if it is just counting to 20.
2. Building a Story: “Yes, and…”
How to Play: Select one person to begin the exercise by telling the first sentence of a made-up story. The player next to this individual must add to the story by replying, “yes,” repeating what the person before them said, followed by adding their own sentence beginning with “and.” This cycle is repeated around the group, with each player only repeating the sentence of the person before them until the story naturally ends.
Tip: To avoid the story becoming too long and drawn-out, place a time limit such as five minutes per story. This can also help fit this activity in as an ice breaker before a department meeting! Encourage players to say the first thing that comes to mind, the sillier the better. However, if a participant gets stuck adding to the story, they can choose to “pass.”
3. Problem and Solution
How to Play: This exercise involves a conversation between two players and follows the same structure, but participants fill in the gaps. The conversation structure is as follows:
Player A: “I have a problem:_______ (describe problem)”
Player B: “Here, I have a _________(a completely random object)”
Player A: “Great! I can then (do something with the object) to __________ (come up with a solution). Thank you!”
Players high five and then two more people have a go at it. Answers can be funny and random, but the point is for participants to be supportive and thankful of one another.
Tip: You can make this game a bit easier by having 2 buckets ready with sample “problems” and different objects people can use.
4. Salt and Pepper
How to Play: Create a list of well-known pairs (i.e. Mario and Luigi, peanut butter and jelly, etc.), and write one half of the pairs on sheets of paper. Tape one paper to each player’s back and have your team mingle with one another to try and figure out the word on their back by asking only yes or no questions! Once they know the word on their back, they must find the other half of their pair.
Tip: Give your team a hint by creating themes for the well-known pairs such as Disney cast members, food, celebrities! This game is designed to encourage players to communicate and problem solve while promoting creative thinking.
5. Truth and Lies
How to Play: Each player has a turn to state 3 truths and 1 lie about themselves to the group. Then, the rest of the participants must guess which fact is a lie.
Tip: While other activities on this list may have a competitive nature, this game does not. The purpose of this exercise is to encourage players to open up and get to know one another. The opportunity to lie can also encourage hilarious statements!
After completing the above exercises, you’ll likely notice your team feeling goofier and more connected. Capitalize on the benefits of improv team-building by having a group discussion about the activities in the workshop and ask for suggestions for the next one. Overall, it is important to promote teamwork and problem solving skills within your team and to get those creative juices flowing!