Many companies, from Fortune 500 to independent startups, rely on improv exercises to improve communication and hone problem-solving skills. Is your team ready to try out improv — check out the games below and get started!
Improv games are all about quick thinking, collaboration, and imagination. There’s no script, and the only safety net is your partner. The concept, generally, is to come up with an on-the-spot idea in response to a suggestion. We’ll give you some fun ideas that leave old icebreakers like two truths and lie in the dust!
You might not think of it right away, but we always improvise at work. You don’t know the exact challenges of each day, but you constantly come up with unique solutions. Improv tests those skills at the micro level so you can apply them at the macro!
Most improv games fall flat without empathy for your scene partner. Understanding what a moment needs without saying it aloud can be a tricky skill to master — improv thrives when taking care of your partner. So does your work!
In improv, you create a fictional world in one sentence; keeping it alive requires attention to detail and active listening. The scene only ends when that connection is lost. Understanding and implementing subtext is essential in any job, and improv helps craft that skill.
Juggling the craziness of an improvised scene can be difficult for anyone — you have to keep track of the characters, where you are, and what you're doing. The only way to be successful is to live in the present moment and adapt accordingly. Next time you are working on a stressful project with many moving parts, remember those skills!
Improv usually ends up being pretty silly — the inside jokes you’ll make after a session will last long after the game ends. Having fun is a scientifically proven way humans build deep bonds!
Come up with a scenario and act it out — but with questions only! When someone can’t think of a question, they’re out, and the game continues until only one person stands.
Person 1: Are you going to eat your lunch?
Person 2: What happens if I don’t eat my lunch?
Person 1: Do you think something bad will happen if you don’t eat your lunch?
…continue asking questions until someone can’t!
Why it's great for team building 👉 This game encourages your team members to always dive a little bit deeper. Unless you ask another question — you’ll never get another answer!
This game takes a little more work! First, separate into breakout rooms and come up with a theme. A few theme ideas include:
From there, each person should devise a well-rounded character based on the chosen theme. Then break into new rooms and let the characters from one group act out a scene with an unexpected scene partner!
Why it's great for team building 👉 When working with clients, you never know who you will meet — better be ready for anyone!
A great game for large groups, all you need to do is go around the group and tell a story… but here’s the catch — each person can only say one word at a time! You never know where this game will end up.
Why it's great for team building 👉 Your team will build on the idea of the person before them to create a cohesive story larger than the individual.
This game is all about “Yes, And!” In small groups, each team will come up with the idea for a simple product, like a coffee cup, but each person adds something a little more ridiculous and improbable until you end up with an auto-refilling coffee cup capable of sending faxes and playing vinyl records.
Why it's great for team building 👉 This game succeeds when everyone is supportive of a common goal to create something no single individual would ever imagine. It helps the team expand their innovation skills!
This deceptively simple warm-up game involves counting to 20 (or larger if you are ambitious). Anyone can say any number, but you start over from the beginning if there is an overlap. Hint: this game works best with closed eyes!
Why it's great for team building 👉 Establish unconscious communication skills, and keep trying until you get the desired result without pushing or jumping on someone else.
Three players act as one in this game. An audience member asks them a question, and the three-headed expert replies one word at a time (sound familiar?).
Why it's great for team building 👉 A melting of minds usually produces a better answer than one head! This game will help your team work as a unit.
Have half the group go on mute, then ask the other group to act out a scene (words and all). It’s up to the muted team to act out the scene as best they can!
Why it's great for team building 👉 Understanding non-verbal communication is essential for life on Zoom.
This two-player game has one player come up with any sort of problem (e.g., the seals in the zoo have escaped), and another player must solve the problem using any object they have nearby (e.g., use a ruler with some string to bait them back).
Why it's great for team building 👉 Problem-solving is the majority of work; it’s always exciting when someone comes up with something unexpected, especially when it works!
You might remember this classic improv comedy game from the show ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’! Before the game starts, everyone in the audience writes down a suggestion, like “things you can say to your pet but not your boss” or “upsetting features on the newest Tesla model.” Each player then responds quickly based on the chat suggestion, continuing until everyone gets a turn.
Why it's great for team building 👉 Lightning fast thinking is handy for this game. A concise, funny, and clever answer highlights your team’s reflexes.
Each participant says a fun fact about themselves and a gesture that goes with it. After each person shares, the whole group mimics the gesture. For an added challenge, go around the group and have each person repeat until everyone remembers all the facts and gestures!
Why it's great for team building 👉 Understanding the person you are working with helps you empathize with them and forge a deeper connection.
Looking to bring improv exercises for team building into your next company get together? At Confetti we have virtual improv games ready for teams of all sizes!
Get a better head for improv in Think Faster, our collaborative improv experience created by UCB’s former Artistic Director, Shannon O’Neil! Book your experience today.
Luckily, your team can play almost all improv games online! With some minor tweaking, you can make it work. Some games even lend themselves to a virtual format like: Earmuffs, Scenes from the Chat, and Party Hoppers.
Even when you have a large group, you want everyone to participate in team building activities! A fun twist on the counting game is to count up to the number of participants. So if you have 50 people, each person can say just one number as you count up.
In more intimate situations, there are still plenty of games to play! When there aren’t even enough people to stand in a circle, try out long form, scene based games like Problem Solver and the Ad Game. When time is not an issue it can be a lot of fun to sit in those imagined worlds for a while and let the scene take you on an unexpected journey.
If you want your team to have fun, work together, and practice skills they can take to the office — then improv games are right up your alley!