Organizational Wellness

11 Fun Improv Games for Effective Team Building

Jul 3, 2023
Last Updated Jun 14, 2024

Engaging an entire workforce can feel like navigating a challenging maze. HR professionals face the uphill battle to foster collaboration, boost creativity, and strengthen team dynamics. But we all know why it’s worth the work: Engaged workforces see reduced absenteeism, lower turnover, and higher productivity levels. 

Now is the time to look for unique, fun ways to improve engagement –– like with improv games! These team-building exercises can be especially beneficial for developing effective communication and team collaboration. They require you to think on your feet, push through creative blocks, come up with quick solutions, and work as a team. 

There’s only one real rule in improv: Never say no. Always say ‘yes, and’ to keep the skit going.

So are you ready to roll? 

Yes, and so are we! Here are 11 playful games to kickstart creativity in your workplace.

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  1. Two Truths and a Lie

This game is a good warm-up improv activity for your teams as it helps team members get to know each other better. It promotes active listening, observation, and building connections within the group.

To play, each participant shares three statements about themselves: two that are true and one that’s false. The rest of the team guesses which statement is the lie. While the game may not involve improvisation in creating scenes or narratives, it can be an icebreaker for more improvisational activities.

  1. Yes And...

As mentioned earlier, this is the foundation of improv. This game encourages teams to embrace collaboration. It promotes teamwork, creative problem-solving, and open-mindedness.

Participants build a scene by adding to each other's ideas with the phrase "Yes, and...". For example, the first person says, "Let's go have a picnic," and the second person says, "Yes, and let's bring some sandwiches to eat," and so on. 

  1. Story Circle

This is a collaborative storytelling game that sparks creativity and enhances communication skills. To play this game, participants sit in a circle and take turns adding a sentence or phrase to create a story. The catch is each person can only continue the narrative from the previous statement. For instance, the first player says, "I was at work yesterday, and I saw a frog," and then the next person says, "I tried to catch it, but it hopped away," and so on. 

"Story circle" is one of the best improv games to boost adaptability as it requires employees to come up with new ideas on the spot. 

  1. Emotional Mirror

"Emotional mirror" is an improv exercise that helps your team understand each other better and build stronger connections. In this game, participants pair up and take turns leading a simple activity while exaggerating a specific emotion, such as joy, anger, or surprise. The partner mimics and reflects the emotional expression. 

This improv game can be particularly useful in team building as it fosters emotional intelligence, enhances non-verbal communication skills, and promotes a supportive and empathetic atmosphere. 

  1. Props Challenge

Unleash your team's creativity with the “Props Challenge.” With this game, you'll set a time limit (e.g., five to ten minutes) for each team to come up with as many innovative and imaginative uses for their given props as possible. After the time is up, your teams will take turns presenting their ideas and demonstrating the different uses for their props.

This game encourages brainstorming, flexibility, and thinking outside the box while fostering teamwork and collaboration.

  1. Group Mime

Enhance non-verbal communication and teamwork with this game. Participants work together to mime an everyday activity, such as making a sandwich or painting a wall, without using words. One team member starts the mimed activity with gestures and movements to perform an action. The next person adds their own action to the sequence, building upon what the previous person did. 

By relying on gestures and body language, teams can improve their coordination, problem-solving, and cohesion.

  1. Sound Ball

This energetic game encourages team members to use listening skills, quick thinking, and effective communication. 

To play, participants stand in a circle. One person starts the game by miming holding an imaginary ball and making a sound to represent the ball being passed. For example, they can make a "whoosh" sound as they mime throwing the ball to the next person. As the ball is passed, each participant should create a unique sound effect to accompany the imaginary ball's movement. 

The challenge lies in synchronizing the sounds and responding to each teammate's contribution, which can foster collaboration, focus, and spontaneity.

  1. Word Association

This game challenges participants to think on their feet and make quick connections. To start, designate a team member to say the first word that will kick off the game. The next person responds with a word or phrase associated with the previous one. For instance, if the first word is "dog," the next person must quickly respond with an associated word like "bark." The chain continues as each participant responds with a word or phrase associated with the previous one. 

Word Association encourages participants to think creatively and find unique associations between words and ideas. 

  1. Character Switch

This game is an entertaining exercise that challenges participants to switch roles and embody different characters on the spot. To play, employees pair up with one another and each person takes on a unique character. The pairs engage in a conversation as their characters, but at any given moment, they must seamlessly switch to a different character while continuing the conversation. For example, every 30 seconds, they must take on a different character but keep the same conversation going. 

This game enhances adaptability and quick thinking, fostering empathy as participants step into different perspectives.

  1. Freeze Frame

This game relies on adaptability to sudden changes. It begins with two participants spontaneously creating a brief, dynamic, or interesting scene. At any point during the scene, a third person can shout "Freeze!" to pause the action. The person who called "Freeze!" then taps out one of the participants in the frozen scene and takes their exact physical position, creating a new tableau. The new scene continues until someone else calls, "Freeze!"

This improv game promotes active listening and observation skills as participants must be attentive to the frozen scenes, ready to jump in and create new tableaus. 

  1. Genre Mashup

With "Genre Mashup,” you’ll divide your team into pairs or small groups and have each group pick two or more genres to combine. For instance, "Romantic comedy meets science fiction" or "Horror meets musical." Then each group takes turns performing their scenes, blending the genres, and creating unique and improvised storylines. After each scene, the audience members have to guess which genres were mashed up.

This type of improv game promotes quick thinking and the ability to switch contexts seamlessly.

How to Plan an Improv Game Team Bonding Activity

Shaking up the work day is simple! You can spark relationships with these ten simple steps

Step 1: Set Your Goals

Before jumping in, take a moment to reflect on what you want to achieve through this improv session. It might be to foster better communication, ignite creativity, or simply warm up the atmosphere among team members. Clarifying your goals early on will make it easier to plan an activity that achieves what you want.

Step 2: Select Suitable Games

With your objectives in mind, choose improv activities that resonate with our team's unique dynamics and size. Be sure to consider the layout of our space and any specific needs to ensure everyone can participate fully and comfortably.

Step 3: Timing is Everything

Finding the perfect time for the activity is key. A day when the office pace is a bit slower, or right after a major project wraps up, could provide a much-needed boost. Aiming for a one to two hour slot will keep the session lively but not overextended.

Step 4: Prepare Your Space

Create an inviting area where movement and laughter flow easily. Whether rearranging a conference room or stepping out into the open air, the environment should welcome everyone to join in without hesitation.

Step 5: Establish Ground Rules

Setting the stage with a few simple rules will help ensure a nurturing atmosphere. Emphasize respect, an open mind, and the understanding that in improv, every response is the right one. Participation is encouraged, but always respect individual comfort levels.

Step 6: Break the Ice

A gentle warm-up activity will help everyone shake off any inhibitions. Whether it's a playful board game or sharing an interesting tidbit about themselves, the aim is to get comfortable and ready for the fun ahead.

Step 7: Let the Games Begin

Now it’s time to dive in! Clear explanations and gentle guidance will keep the energy positive and the activity flowing. It can help to remain flexible, adapting to the group's vibe and engagement.

Step 8: Reflect Together

Following the games, gather for a thoughtful debrief. This is a chance to share insights gained, how these can enrich the work, and reflect on the experience. It's a pivotal step in turning the fun into valuable lessons for teamwork and collaboration.

Step 9: Share Appreciation

Take a moment to acknowledge the collective creativity and effort everyone put into the activity. Celebrating moments of teamwork and individual bravery reinforces a culture of support and continuous growth.

Step 10: Look Ahead

Keep the good times rolling with a team bonding game in the near future. Using a different activity from this list will help you continue to engage and inspire each other, building a stronger, more connected team.

Cultivating a Culture of Engagement

Improv games can help create an engaging, safe, and inclusive space. This type helps employees explore, connect, and grow through communication and creativity.

But embedding these values into how employees work daily takes more than a one-off activity. Building a culture of engagement requires commitment. 

Wellness programs are a great way to encourage engagement day-in and day-out: Companies leveraging effective wellbeing strategies are more than three times as likely to engage their workers

If you’re ready to give your workforce a wellness boost, connect with a Wellbeing Specialist today

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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