Building a strong sense of team can be a challenge; sometimes it takes more than a few meetings and the occasional lunch outing to form a strong group mind. However, the benefits of nurturing a connected, collaborative team are too valuable to ignore.
If you find your team caught in an uncomfortable rut, try playing a few of these improv exercises! Replacing that 3 p.m. sugar rush with an engaging group activity is a great way to break down barriers and get the creative juices flowing:
Zip – Zap – Zop!
This is a classic improv energy building warm-up! Everyone gathers in a circle. One person starts by clapping their hands in the direction of another player and yells, “Zip!” The next person then claps in the direction of a new player and says, “Zap!” This clap pattern continues, but the words must be said in the order, “Zip – Zap – Zop!” Try seeing how fast you can keep the circle moving!
*For an extra challenge, try adding more words (or actions) to the order!
You’ll need to be circled-up for this exercise as well. Each person must come up with an original superhero name, a fun way to say the name and an action that goes along with it. For example, one player might be the, “Pudding Man” who says his name in a low, rumbling voice while shaking his hips; another might be “Busy Beaver,” who speaks quickly and chomps teeth. After everyone has presented their superhero identities and unique way of saying them, these super stylings are then repeated and passed around the circle.
So, in this example, “Pudding Man” might start by saying his name along with his signature hip shake, and then continue by calling on another hero from across the circle, say “Busy Beaver,” by imitating the sound and movement that player created. “Busy Beaver” would then repeat his/her name and movement, then, by saying another super hero’s name, and pass it along elsewhere:
Player 1: “Puddddddiinnnngg Maaan” *shakes hips*
“Busy Beaver” *teeth chomp*
Player 2: “Busy Beaver” *teeth chomp*
“Laser Lady” *points fingers and says PEW PEW* (and so on…)
It’s a blast coming up with superheroes, but what’s even more entertaining is mimicking everyone else’s characters once the personalities are set up! Can you remember everyone’s character?
Beforehand, generate a large list of environments and objects to pull from for this exercise (Hint: The best items for this game include large, complex systems, such as a Ferris Wheel.) Then, have a designated leader call out an object or environment from the list. The group must find a way to build the selection, using only their bodies, within 5 minutes. After the timeframe has passed, an outsider will then enter the room and try to guess the object or environment which the group intended to build. The goal here is to build the suggestion as quickly and clearly as possible (and you’ll probably find yourself in some funny positions along the way!)
Desks and computer screens link us together, but sometimes it takes standing up and working together in-motion to reconnect as a team. Improv exercises, like the ones above, foster quick thinking, collaboration through problem solving and (most importantly) help us take things a little less seriously.
Do you have any other suggestions of team building exercises? Share them and spread the fun!