Q: Most people will tell you there is lack of trust in many working environments. One of the main foundations of improv is trust. How do you “break the ice” and have colleagues gain trust in eachother in your workshops?A: When a bunch of “non-improv” people engage in improvisation, it often starts with most people feeling anxious or nervous about doing something they think is VERY hard, and takes a special kind of ‘artistic mind’. Once they realize that what we’re really doing is just playing a bunch of games and having fun, the nerves calm down and give way to fun and silliness. This transition from fear to fun is when all the benefits start to happen. In a workshop, it is made crystal clear in the beginning that their goal is to MESS UP. When they’re given license to fail, and they know that everybody in the room has the same license, then the pressure is removed and people begin to let themselves play. That’s how the ice is broken. Here are a couple of great trust-building exercises you might try with your teams before your next meeting:
- “YES, LET’S!”:
Team walks randomly around the room. Periodically and randomly, someone says “Hey, Let’s _____!” Everybody enthusiastically replies, “YES! Let’s _____!!” and all begin doing that thing until the next random person yells, “Hey, Let’s _____!” Everybody enthusiastically replies, “YES! Let’s _____!!” and all begin doing that thing, etc…
THE TAKE AWAY: This game is not only hilarious to play, but also introduces a culture of agreement and support in your meeting.
- “THE ADVERTISERS”:
Each team has exactly five minutes to create an ad campaign for an ordinary product that does something ABSOLUTELY EXTRAORDINARY. Each group must come up with an entire marketing strategy AND finished commercial. Specifically, they must come up with: a name for the product, a package design, a slogan, a spokesperson from the team designated to lead them in the pitch, and they must come up with, and perform a jingle (which all members of the team must participate). Naturally, the only way to do this in five minutes is through complete and total agreement. No negative thinking is allowed. Every idea should be accepted enthusiastically and remembered, each step is built off the previous idea. After five minutes, each team stands in front of the whole group “the audience”, and presents their pitch, (to thunderous applause and support from the audience!)
THE TAKE AWAY: The Advertisers is high energy and thoroughly entertaining for all involved. It requires agreement, non self-judgement, and creation.