Improv Games

Improv Consultants LogoImprov Games

There are hundreds if not thousands of improv games that can be applied in workplace learning and development programs. There are also many wonderful resources online to get lots of ideas! One incredible source is the Improv Encyclopedia. I wanted to include some of my favorite games and adaptations here for easy access! Behind each of the games is an improv principle or tenet.

Tenets of Improvisation

If these tenets are applied in the workplace, it leads to greater collaboration, increased authentic and positive connection, and overall higher morale.

  1. Say Yes and add positively to the situation: This means that we fully accept ideas and offers and add a new piece of information to serve the bigger picture. This does not mean that we have to agree with each other all the time. In fact, the most successful teams have a healthy amount of disagreement and debate. But listening and taking in all aspects of an idea before negating or offering your own idea, supports building relationships and creating healthy respect.
  2. Stay present—evaluate later: Staying present to each moment and refraining from planning allows for even more options and choices to make themselves known.
  3. Make your partner look brilliant: This eliminates defensiveness. The partner can literally be a partner, or it could be a colleague, subordinate, or even the company itself.
  4. Look for connection: Finding commonalities with others supports the building of healthy relationships. Where do you agree
  5. Allow yourself to be changed: By staying in the moment, we are more likely to be able to take in new information and see it as an invitation to make a new choice, inspire new ideas, and make positive changes.
  6. Serve the bigger picture: When performing, we refer to this rule as serving the platform (story or scene). In other words, the actor makes choices to support the story as opposed to only serving his or her own need to do something special. What is the bigger picture in your life? What is the bigger picture to support the business or team?
  7. Find the joy in failure—Be willing to make mistakes: One of key components great leaders have is the willingness to risk failure. They put themselves on the line for their vision and ideas. Be willing to make mistakes and find the joy in failure. See each mistake, not so much as a failure but the willingness to be courageous.

What follows are some of our favorite improv games, other exercises and applications! Improvisation games are like tales passed down from one generation to another. There are some where we will be able to share who we learned it from, and others where we just have no idea. If you know, please let us know as we love to give credit! Enjoy and please reach out with questions or feedback.

Communication Cookbook

Fork & Knife

Port Key

Secret Greetings

Three Things in Common

San Rafael Chamber of Commerce Applied Improvisation Network Practitioner
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