20 Best Improv Games For Team Building

What do you get when you mix business with pleasure? Improv games! That’s right, the next time you and your team are gathered for a meeting, why not try incorporating some improv games to break the ice and help everyone get to know each other better? You may be surprised at how much fun you’ll have – and how much better your meetings will run. Keep reading for some tips on how to get started.

Improv games are a great way for theater actors to work on their skills before making it to the big stage. These interactive exercises help build cohesion within groups, develop confidence as well as strengthen teamwork by playing fun yet challenging improv scenarios that you can do virtually anywhere! You can play these interactive improv sessions virtually with your remote team members!

Introducing play into the workplace can help with burnout, happiness, and fatigue, and improv is one of the best and easiest ways to do so.

In this post, we share:

  • Virtual Zoom Improv Games
  • Virtual Ice Breakers
  • Virtual Team Games
  • Virtual Trivia

Also, Read: Office Olympics – Guide to Host Your Own Indoor Olympics

Fun Improv Games For Virtual Team Building

Finding the right games and exercises to introduce improv to your group, whether for fun or as part of a team-building session, is the first step.

We have divided some of our favorite and most effective improv activities into sections to help you find what works best for you!

  1. Questions Only Please

When first introducing people to the concept of improv, conversational improv games are a great place to start. They are effective at gently bringing people out of their shells while avoiding some of improv’s wilder, more dramatic possibilities.

Questions Only is a twist on a classic improv game. It is simple enough to work in either virtual or physical settings. Players must hold a conversation made up entirely of questions. For example, if I asked you, “How is the weather on Mars?” “You might respond, “Where did I put my space umbrella?” ” Do you pause or respond with something other than a question?” You are done!

You can use a round-robin variant in which the last person to play chooses a topic – the resulting conversations are usually full of laughter and energy!

  1. Sound Ball

Sound Ball

Great improv helps to tap into a group’s collective imagination. Inviting a group to pretend, play, and be silly by channeling the energy of mime is an excellent way to introduce them to the possibilities of improv.

Begin Sound Ball by asking participants to form a circle and prepare to catch an imaginary ball. Players must make a specific sound in order to throw and catch the ball. To keep players on their toes, begin by throwing imaginary balls around before introducing new balls with new sounds.

This game is great for bringing some fun into a room while also encouraging people to pay attention. When energy is low, use it at the start of a meeting or before an involved part of a workshop for best results!

Also, Read: Fun Yes or No Questions to Ask For Office Games in 2023 

  1. Nonverbal Improvisation

Improvisers are expected to act out previously unseen prompts on the spot. Asking players to respond creatively and effectively with little preparation is a great way to energize the room while also developing some basic communication skills. But what if you cannot communicate by speaking?

Participants in this improv exercise are given a random phrase and must act it out to their partner nonverbally. Encourage players to pay close attention to their partners and to be creative in their attempts to communicate their ideas. Use gestures, overacting, and even props to convey your message! Break into teams for a competitive version, or use round-robin for a large-group improv game.

  1. Terrible Gifts

We have all given and received gifts at some point in our lives, though not everyone was probably great! Tap into this shared experience with Terrible Gifts, a persuasive improv game in which players must persuade one another to accept a bad present!

In between rounds, invite participants to tell others about their terrible gifts. Reflecting on the experience of persuasion, improvisation, and acceptance frequently leads to amusing and interesting discussions.

  1. Yes, and Picnic

Yes, and Picnic

Yes, and… is a fundamental concept in improvised comedy. It means that when improvising, participants should respond to others by accepting what they have said and then building on it. This concept not only improves improv, but it is also a great way to approach collaborating with others in any setting.

Yes, and Picnic introduces the concept in a simple game in which pairs plan an event together using responses ranging from “No” to “Yes, and what I like about that is.” This improv game is instructive as well as entertaining by understanding how different responses influence a conversation. Consider using this as a jumping-off point for more involved improv.

  1. Hello there, Kitty

Energizers and activities that use improvisation come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: fun! When introducing improv to a group for the first time, simple games centered on having fun and eliciting laughter can really demonstrate the value of the process and encourage engagement.

Hello Kitty is a simple game that asks the group to try to make each other smile. Begin by dividing the group into puppies and kittens. Puppies must greet kittens in a way that makes them laugh or smile, while kittens must maintain a straight face. When a kitten laughs or smiles, it transforms into a puppy! Continue until all of the kittens are laughing and joining the puppy team.

Though this game is simple, it is a great way to encourage the creativity required for improv, and it also helps to energize your team!

  1. Two Truths and A Lie

Two truths and a lie is a classic game in which players make up an untrue fact about themselves and present it alongside two truths. It is simple to teach, simple to play, and a great way for people to get to know one another.

After one of the players has made their three statements, participants are asked to ask lie detector questions to determine which one is a lie. You can really tap into the improv spirit in a gentle but fun way by having to answer these questions and try to convince people that a false statement is true!

After each round, have everyone introduce themselves by name and debrief on what was true. This period of reflection and connection is an important part of getting to know one another!

  1. Remember The Occasion

Remember The Occasion

We tend to have shared stories and memories with those we know best. Looking back on these experiences with fondness often brings a smile to our faces and strengthens group bonds. This improv game takes advantage of this concept by having the group remember a fictional event they attended together and make up a story about what happened.

Begin by introducing a fictitious memory that the group would have shared. Go around the group and ask each person to add a detail or nuance to the memory, forming a story of what you all did together. You can get to know each other creatively by encouraging everyone to contribute and co-create the memory. Invite players to add fun details and take unexpected turns; bringing your personality to the shared memory will help it become realized and unique to your group.

  1. The Magic Box

Using objects and metaphors can help those who are less comfortable with improvisation or sharing themselves with the group. Remember that every group is unique. Allowing everyone to contribute in a way that feels good for them is essential when assisting a team in getting to know one another.

Prepare a box of strange and varied objects for this activity. (If working online, a collection of virtual objects or images works well as well!) Instruct participants to choose an object without overthinking it and then share something about themselves that is related to the object. Encourage improvisation by asking them to connect the object to the workshop theme or a central question.

It is a great way to get people thinking quickly and creatively, and it can also elicit some interesting and unexpected responses!

  1. Hype Man

Hype Man

Introducing friends and colleagues to others necessitates getting to know them better. Exaggeratingly introducing friends and colleagues entails getting to know them and then running with what you know. Use this fun improv exercise to incorporate roleplay for hilarious results!

Begin by forming groups of three people and asking them to share some basic information about one another. The person being introduced will be the first player in each group. The Straightman will be Player 2, and the Hypeman will be Player 3.

Next, form two groups of three people. The first player in each group will be introduced by the other two players in their group. Player 2 must introduce them in a low-key, matter-of-fact manner. Exaggerated, over-the-top language will be used by Player 3.

  1. Human Objects

It is always fascinating and encouraging to see the variety of responses when a group gets together in a creative setting. Seeing the similarities and differences in our approaches can help us bond as people.

In Human Objects, challenge your group to imitate an object with their bodies in ten seconds or less. Begin by naming a common object, such as a desk, mobile phone, microwave oven, or drum kit. Allow everyone to improvise and impersonate that object using only their bodies before nominating another play to select the next object.

Human Objects brings some fun and creativity to your meeting and works well in both live and virtual settings. Trying to fit a human guitar into the frame of a Zoom window frequently results in laughter!

  1. Mirrors

Mirrors

Understanding and listening to your partner, as with most collaborative and creative processes, is critical to your success. Mirrors is a classic physical improv game that uses our bodies to encourage deep connection and attention.

Begin by asking pairs to imagine themselves standing on opposite sides of a mirror, separated by a boundary line. Then, have player 1 begin leading with physical movements, gestures, and actions that player 2 must then imitate. Encourage players to walk slowly and without talking. Change who is following who on a regular basis and invite everyone to be creative while leading the way for their partner.

Mirrors work wonders when it comes to improv games that get people moving. It is a simple premise that encourages players to push themselves further out of their comfort zones as they progress. Create memorable team moments and opportunities for hilarity for extra points!

  1. Human-Machine Interaction

Physical improv games that require us to use our bodies and participate can be excellent viryual team building activities. Working together while having fun satisfies many of our desires for team sports, creative collaborations, and what it means to be a part of a group!

This improv exercise requires a group to come together and embody a robot, with each member of the team playing a different part of the machine.

Begin by having a single player enter the center of the room and make the sound and movement of one of the robot’s parts. After five seconds, have another player enter and become a part of the robot, complete with a new sound and movement. Continue to construct until you have created a complete machine that moves and operates as one.

Do you want to add another angle? Invite the robot to complete a task or deconstruct it piece by piece. We enjoy inviting the group to design a robot for a specific task and watching how people choose to bring themselves to the process and position themselves as part of the group.

  1. Near And Far

Near And Far

Most improv activities, at their core, are a set of rules that participants must work creatively with in order to achieve their goal. Working with these rules on the fly requires participants to interpret and respond quickly and creatively. As a result, even with the most basic of rulesets, the results are frequently surprising!

Near and Far is an exercise that incorporates these ideas without the usual setup of other improv games. Begin by asking everyone in the room to secretly choose one person in the group to stay close to and one person to avoid. 

Then, gather everyone in a tight huddle, explain the rules for safety and not speaking, and send them off to find the person they need to be close to and far away from. Allow them to roam and enact these rules while inviting them to observe all of the strange systems and actions that emerge from collaborating in this space.

  1. The Red Ball

Mime and comedy go together. The group is asked to imagine passing several items around the group and responding to them in turn in this improv game. It is a fun way to let everyone’s personality shine while participating in a light, energetic way.

Begin by forming a circle with everyone. Begin by having the director show the group an imaginary red ball. They then make eye contact with another person in the circle, say “Red ball,” and pass the ball to them. The receiving player repeats the name of the received item before passing it to another player. 

After a few passes, the director begins to add more and more items, such as a sleeping baby, an angry cat, the keys to a sports car, and so on.

Instruct players to be imaginative and creative in how they pass these objects around while adhering to the game’s rules. It is entertaining to watch people try to calm the sleeping baby and protect it from the other objects being thrown around, as well as all the other interactions that occur!

  1. Fortunately For Me

Fortunately For Me

For some people, telling stories conjures up images of dragons and spaceships, which can be a barrier to participation. This take on a classic story game is grounded and practical while still encouraging improvisation and creativity.

Begin by having each player state a goal they hope to achieve in a year. The next player says, “Unfortunately…” and improvises an impediment to achieving that goal. The first player then responds with “Yes and…” and an improvised solution to the obstacle. Continue around the circle until the player has refuted and overcome all possible obstacles to their goal, no matter how wild or difficult.

You can generate both practical and enjoyable takeaways for the group by personally connecting to the story being told and overcoming challenges with positivity. Invite creative challenges and do not be afraid to throw some curveballs. What is a good story without a few twists and turns?

  1. Powerpoint Karaoke

When we bring up the subject of telling stories, some members of the group scoff: not everyone considers themselves to be storytellers! In reality, everyone tells stories. Ask those people when they last went on vacation or a fun trip, and chances are they will tell you when it happened, where they went, who was there, and what happened. That’s an interesting story!

In this storytelling game, we will retell a holiday or unexpected event while adding improv elements. Begin by using the Powerpoint Karaoke framework to create a slide deck of holiday locations, inside jokes, and activities.

Next, ask a participant to begin a sentence with “Let me tell you a story.” I took a wild trip to…” and then displayed the first slide of a location. The player must then improvise a story about a trip they took to this location.

Move on to the next slide after a sentence or two; the player must incorporate what is on that slide into their story. Continue to add slides and details for a minute or until the story comes to a natural conclusion.

It is fun to add images of inside jokes and company references to the slide deck when playing with a team that knows each other well. Explaining why you bumped into the CEO on your way to the Grand Canyon or why a samurai showed up at the company all-hands meeting can be a lot of fun!

  1. Story Spine

Story Spine

One of the reasons so many of us can connect with and understand stories is that they frequently follow a recognisable structure. Working within a story structure is an excellent way to encourage people to contribute while also creating an engaging story with all the right beats!

Begin by explaining what a story spine is and how it relates to popular stories and fairytales. After that, read the first prompt from “Once upon a time” and invite a player to contribute the first line. Read out the next “Every day…” prompt and invite another player to contribute to the next line.

Take notes on each response and continue to build the story until you reach the last prompt. Read the entire story to the group and share what you have created together! You can use a first-line related to your company or a chosen theme to create more specific stories, or simply use it as a creative and fun improv exercise!

  1. Pass The Story

Stories, like most creative processes, are built in stages. But how can this be done efficiently if each step is handled by a different person? In this improv game, challenge players to make a sentence one word at a time, with each word contributed by a different person.

Begin with a broad topic, such as deciding what to eat for dinner or how to handle a specific problem or situation. Invite one person to contribute the first word of the sentence, and then have the next person contribute the second word. Go around the group until everyone has added something and you have a complete sentence. Begin again with a new situation or continue with the current one.

Make sure to gently guide the team and encourage everyone to stay on topic – the best sentences and stories make sense!

Do you want to raise the stakes? Challenge players to write better, more complete, and articulate sentences while under time constraints or other constraints. Being creative and spontaneous in a relaxed setting that does not require too much of an individual player is a great way to get started with improv and demonstrate the benefits of collaboration.

  1. The Acting Cards

Stories come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Not every story has to be epic, and by encouraging the group to tell stories in small interactions, you can foster creativity while also helping to develop communication skills.

Begin by making a set of notecards with adjectives like hungry, angry, sad, and so on. Participants work in pairs to pick up a card, walk to the front of the room, and act out a scene while attempting to demonstrate their adjective card. For instance, a pair may act out a scene in which two friends meet for lunch while incorporating their adjective card into their performance.

At the end of the performance, the audience and each individual must guess what the other person’s adjectives were. Consider how to better display and read the emotions of others, while rewarding particularly creative responses. You will be surprised at how this game encourages deep thought as well as laughter!

What Are Improv Rules?

When you watch an improv comedy scene in action, it can appear chaotic. On the contrary, rules and guidelines are frequently in place to assist the group in collaboratively improvising and supporting one another.

The rules of improv are intended to encourage everyone to participate, have fun, and create better scenes and outcomes. Excellent takeaways for any team interested in using improv games or collaborating more effectively! They are not intended to limit creativity or to insist on a right or wrong way to perform improv.

Consider them as guidelines for assisting a group in making the most of the session. They are especially beneficial for those who are just starting out!

Conclusion

Remember that improv is not about you winning as an individual, but about assisting the group in having fun and winning together. In fact, by assisting others and supporting their ideas, you will receive similar goodwill and assistance. This is an important lesson for any collaborative process: be prepared to carry your end of the bargain and to give and share as much as you receive. It benefits everyone!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can improv games become uncomfortable?

Improvisation and role play are not for everyone. It can be uncomfortable for some people, so it is critical to strike a balance between having fun and creating a safe environment for people to participate. Consider the group you are working with carefully, and perhaps begin with a simple game that does not ask them to step completely out of their comfort zone too soon!

How can you make rules for improv games?

You should ideally look into what is available, try incorporating the concepts into your practice, and use what works for you. Combine rules, modify them to your specifications, or create entirely new ones. Remember that whatever you use, the goal is the same: guidelines for creating a safe, creative space for improvising, collaborating, and having fun with others.

Why should you play improv games with employees?

One of the reasons you should look into improv games is to improve your team’s soft skills. Improv has long been known in the theater world for helping actors develop their confidence, active listening skills, and quick thinking. Hence, it could be a great medium for developing team collaboration and enhancing soft skills.

Ritu Sharma
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