Improv Games: One Sentence Stories

“One Sentence Story” is a simple improv game where you and a partner will work together to build a story, each contributing one sentence at a time. Unlike some other improv story-telling games, this one allows you to contribute more than you ordinarily would (a full sentence instead of just a word or two). As you’ll see when you play it, this could be a good thing or a bad thing…

Purpose

To practice communicating, listening, and building off other people’s ideas.

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Improv Games: Blind Line

“Blind Line” is a great and very funny improv game uses the critical improv skills of “justification” and “incorporation.” Interestingly, the gimmick of this game makes it fun even when it is not played well. When it is played well it can bring the house down.

Purpose

The purpose of this game is to practice reacting to changing circumstances quickly and powerfully.

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Improv Games: The Expert Interview

In “The Expert Interview,” a performer acts as an expert on some topic. The audience then asks them any question they want on that topic, and the expert must answer immediately, without hesitation, and with confidence (i.e. as if he were the expert…)

Purpose

The purpose of this exercise is to tap your creative flow while starting to direct it and control it.

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Improv Game: Paper Cups Are Great

“Paper Cups Are Great” is a fun game that forces people to stretch their minds, work together, and tap into their creative flow.

Purpose

The purpose of this exercise is to tap your creativity by practicing saying things that are ridiculous. This game also develops teamwork.

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Improv Games For Kids

When speaking to groups about applying improv ideas to business and life, I pretty much always speak to adults. What I find interesting though, is how many people come to me and later and say, “oh, you know that game you had us play? I did that with my kids and they loved it!”

Playing improv games with your kids is a great way to keep them occupied while also teaching them some fundamental skills and helping them develop their creativity. Below are the three games I most often here people tell me that their kids enjoy, along with video clips and explanations:
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Creativity Exercises: Simple Word Associations

Word association is what I consider to be the first creativity building exercise. It’s actually a simple improv comedy drill.

You can do a word association with a partner. First you say a word, and then your partner says the first word that comes to his mind, then you say the first word, then he says the first word, then you say the first word, and so on and so on. The goal is to go as fast as possible, listen to your partner, not pre-think of what you will say, and just say the first thing that comes to your mind. That’s really all there is too it.
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Improv Games: Scenes Without the Letter

“Scenes Without the Letter” is one of my absolute favorite improv games. I would often use this game to open shows, so you know it’s fun! In addition to being fun, it is one of the most useful exercises to teach people to take risks and put failure in perspective..

Purpose

The point of this game is to demonstrate that it’s not whether we succeed or fail, but how we make our attempts that make the difference.

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Improv Games: “Yes, And”

“Yes and” is a simple but incredibly powerful improv game that quickly demonstrated the difference between saying, “yes, and” and “yes, but.” In almost every single one of my keynote presentations and workshops, this is the exercise that gets the best feedback. Give it a try!

Purpose

The purpose of this game is to demonstrate the powerful difference of changing your mind-set from “yes, but” to “yes, and.”

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Improv Game: Ding!

“Ding” is one of my favorite games, both to play and also to use as a tool to show people how to apply improv lessons to business and life. You can see a video example along with more explanation below the written description.

Purpose

The purpose of this exercise is to practice staying in the moment, letting go of ideas, changing direction quickly, and flowing with your creativity.
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