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July 26, 2023

Improv Warm Up Games for Teams

Need a new way to boost your team’s collaboration and communication skills? Yes, and…. 

Well, buckle up for a ride through the world of improv warm up games! These group activities are not only fun to play but also great for fostering increased connection and creativity. So, let’s dive in and take a look at some popular improv warm up games. They’ll have your team laughing, learning, and collaborating.

Why Use Improv Warm Up Games for Team Building? 

  • They provide a real-time way to practice communication skills like active listening and expressiveness
  • They strengthen trust as teammates have to rely on each other to be successful
  • They encourage creativity, novel thinking, and fast problem-solving. 
  • They promote resilience and adaptability in the midst of uncertainty and challenges
  • They’re fun! Improv games bring about moments of laughter, joy, and optimism

First, Create the Right Space for Improv

Before jumping into an improv activity, it’s important to set the stage. Think of it as creating the right atmosphere for connection and experimentation. Start by emphasizing the importance of an open-minded, supportive, non-judgmental environment. Remind everyone that mistakes are okay and even encouraged!

When you create a safe space, your team will feel more comfortable being authentic, vulnerable, and getting outside their comfort zones.

Here are 10 Improv Warm Up Games for Team Building:

“Yes, And…”

Let’s kick things off with a classic improv game called “Yes, And…”. This game is all about building upon each other’s ideas. Gather your team in a circle and start by saying a sentence that begins a story. For instance, you could say “Oliver couldn’t believe he was finally arriving at the Empire State Building, but he wasn’t sure what people would think of his King Kong costume.” From there, each person who follows must continue the story, beginning their statement with “Yes, and…” and adding something new to the story. 

“Props Parade” 

Grab a bag of random props – the funnier and randomer the better! Divide your team into pairs and give each pair a prop from the bag. Each duo must come up with a creative use for their prop and demonstrate it to the rest of the team by miming an activity or doing a brief skit.

“Sound Symphony” 

Start by gathering your team in a circle and making a simple sound or gesture. The person to your right must then imitate that sound or gesture and add their own unique element. The symphony continues as each team member adds their sound or gesture, creating a harmonious (or perhaps delightfully chaotic) symphony.

“Bring it to Life” 

To begin, one person grabs a fiction book and starts reading from a random page in the story. Two other people in the group have to bring the story to life — one person by creating sound effects and another person by miming the action in the story. As each page is turned, the roles of creating sound effects and miming switch to two new people. Continue until everyone’s had a chance to participate.

“I am a Tree”

In this exercise, one person goes to the center of the circle and strikes a pose as a tree, saying “I am a tree.” Next, another person adds to the first person’s pose. For example, they may be a squirrel, and could say “I’m a squirrel burying an acorn next to the tree.” Then, the first person (who was playing the tree) leaves the scene. From there, someone else jumps in to be an object that fits with the squirrel, creating a new kind of scene. For example, they may be “a veterinarian rescuing the squirrel.” The sequence continues as each round involves the initial person stepping away and a new person joining in to change up the scene.

"Good improvisation is all about listening, reacting in the moment, creating, and supporting the ideas of others." — Tom Yorton

“Zip, Zap, Zop”

In this game, have people stand in a circle. One person starts by saying “zip” while pointing to another participant to indicate it’ll be that person’s turn next. That next person says “zap” while gesturing to a third person, who says “zop” while passing it to yet another participant. Then, the sequence starts over again with “zip.” The goal is to create a rhythm as either “zip,” “zap,” or “zop” is said and the energy bounces around the circle. If someone says a word not in the correct order, then they’re out for that round. 

For an added challenge, give participants another acceptable sequence of words – this can be initiated when the person who’d normally need to say “zap” (the 2nd word in the flow) can change it up by saying “zip” again, which will tell everyone that they’re now doing a sequence of doubles (zip-zip, zap-zap, zop-zop) before going back to the sequence of singles.

“Clap around the Circle”

To set up, participants stand or sit in a circle facing inwards towards the middle. One person will start by doing a single clap in front of their face as they turn to the person to their right. Their neighbor has to turn to the left and attempt to clap at the exact same time as the first person. In this way, a clap is passed from person to person as it moves around the circle. The goal is to maintain a steady rhythm while syncing up as many claps as possible. As the group gets better, try speeding up the rhythm for an extra challenge!

“5-Headed Brain”

In this game, five participants act as a single “brain” to respond to questions. Each person contributes a word to form a collective sentence that answers each question asked of them. The goal is to create an answer that’s at least somewhat coherent (😆) while showcasing the combined brainpower, creativity, and silliness of the group.

“What am I Doing?”

In this improv exercise, one person steps forward and begins miming an action without verbally stating what they are doing. The rest of the group observes and tries to guess what the person is portraying. When someone correctly guesses it, then they’re the next person to mime an action for the group to guess. This continues until everyone has had a turn to mime.

“Telephone Game”

In this classic game, participants sit or stand in a line or a circle, and the activity begins with one person whispering a short phrase or sentence to their neighbor. The whispered message then travels from one person to the next, whispering ear to ear, until it reaches the last person. The final person then shares the message aloud, and the group compares it to the original phrase.

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