I recently conducted one of my Communication Mastery improv workshops for a technology company. The business had specific goals to use the workshop to help build stronger employee relationships and to work together better.
I developed my workshops focusing on using improv to improve workplace culture and communication. The idea to take a group of co-workers out of the office and away from their computers to play physical games can sound wild, but hear me out, because the results are astounding.
Try these improv exercises with your team
The skills and lessons learned from improv are vast and essential to anyone dealing with other people in their lives - so everyone.
Count to 20
One exercise involves standing the group in a circle. With their eyes closed and heads down they are tasked with counting to 20. Sounds easy? Not quite, because each person who calls the next number randomly chooses to do it.
With eyes closed and nobody saying "one," the exercise can't proceed. Someone needs to muster up the courage to call the first number. Then someone else must call the next number and so on. The kicker is the number resets to one each time two people call the same number at once.
This exercise is a fun warm up. It teaches participants to work together as a team, to listen intently, and to be leaders by being courageous enough to call the next number. They must work together to get to 20 to succeed.
Improv is filled with these types of lessons. Teams become stronger by working together on different exercises customized to help them achieve their goals. I always poll my clients ahead of time, so I know their challenges and can customize my program to meet their goals.
The New Boss
One of my favorite activities is New Boss. Participants run through some warm-ups where they learn to speak together as one person. Two people are paired up to become a single person, the "new boss." Everyone else is an employee who can ask random questions. The new boss must mouth and speak their answers slowly and in stereo in order to sound coherent.
This exercise teaches listening skills because they must listen to the sounds of the words as they are spoken. They also have to learn to accept the other person's choice, because one single person may not be able to answer the question as they would have otherwise wanted to.
Improv teaches us to listen more effectively, to be team players, to be empathetic and accepting of our colleagues. It also allows us to have fun together. The laughter is my greatest reward as I teach teams how to improve communication with each other and externally.
Try improv games with your colleagues. I am certain your teams will learn new skills, improve the ones they already have, and ultimately have fun doing it. Here’s a quick look at some feedback I’ve received from my workshops.