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When you ask someone what they know about improv, most people will say something about Whose Line Is It Anyway? Which makes sense, this past summer, nearly 2 million people watched WLIA every week.

But what most people don’t know about improv is that the same skills Ryan, Colin, and Wayne use to make millions of people laugh are also the same skills that can build relationships and increase productivity.


It’s called applied improvisation and it’s one of the most effective ways to can help your team learn substantially more.

 

Here are 5 things participants will do in an applied improv team-building event:

1. Experience something new.

One of the first things participants notice is that this isn’t their typical presentation, workshop, or activity. The space is cleared out, the chairs are set to the side, and there isn’t a PowerPoint deck in sight.

All of the exercises are done in an open space and the learning and connecting takes place in the moment through experiential exercises. This breaks the norm of what they’re used to and gets them primed to learn.

2. Participate (all of them, even Steve).

In a standard presentation, people can zone out, do other work, or try to learn how to spin a pen on their fingers. Even in some team building exercises, people can find ways to stay hands off and let others do all the work (and all the connecting).

With applied improv team building, everyone is involved in every exercise. There’s no standing off to the side or sitting out of an exercise. Everyone participates, everyone connects, and everyone learns.

3. Build on a key skill for work.

One of the biggest constraints most organizations have is time. There’s never enough time to train and develop the organization while also building the relationships within it. So why not do both at the same time?

Applied improv team building not only helps people get to know each other, but can also teach them a key skill. The games and activities can be centered around a hot topic in that organization, whether it’s communication, problem solving, negotiation, conflict resolution, or nearly* anything else.

*Not even applied improv training can teach some people not to hit “reply-to-all” on massive email chains.

4. Learn about each other.

Most team building exercises hinge on the fact that when people share experiences, whether positive or negative, they become closer together. That’s definitely great, but what if your teams could share a fun, positive experience AND learn about each other at the same time?

With applied improv team building, that’s exactly what happens. Through the exercises and debriefs, participants not only try something new together, they learn more about the people they’re working with as well.

5. Laugh. A lot.

Finally, because of the nature of improv, it’s natural that the group will laugh while learning.

The exercises set participants up to succeed and showcase their natural skills. The funniest moments come from honest reactions and insights, something that happens naturally in improv. The best part is that it’s all done it a positive way. This isn’t laughing at each other, it’s laughing with each other.

Applied Improv Team Building

Interested in finding out how applied improv team building could work for your organization? Check out TeamProv with ComedySportz. And the next time someone asks what improv is, you can say it’s not just what they do on that one show, it’s that thing I learned at work.

About Andrew Tarvin

Andrew Tarvin is a humor engineer, best-selling author, and lead facilitator of TeamProv for TeamBonding. To read more about how humor can make you more productive, visit his site on humor at work.

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