Next time you’re looking for some “mandatory fun” to give your employees, think about doing an improv workshop. Not just because everyone will be laughing hysterically and having a great old time, but because it’s actually beneficial. I mean, sure skydiving paintball is fun, but what are you really getting out of it?
For those of you still reading, and who haven’t left this page to Google “skydiving paintball” in hopes that it’s a thing (mental note: new business idea), improv has the power to make real, lasting change.
The idea of using play at work is fairly new. For years, work was about putting your head down, nose to the grindstone, furrowing your brow, and not enjoying it. Don't take breaks, follow the rules, and do it the way it’s always been done. You know, work.
But times have changed. Even stodgy old companies are looking for bold, creative ideas. Employees who use their imaginations, take risks, and think on their feet. If only there was a way improv to help people shift improv from that old work mindset improv to the new playful way of thinking… improv.
What is Improv?
When most people hear the word “improv,” they either picture a stand-up comedian, or Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie doing crazy things on Whose Line Is It Anyway?
In other words, most people are probably scared to death of it.
You: Hey team, I’ve signed us up for an improv workshop!
You: Now we can try and be funny on the spot and fail and probably look stupid in front of each other!
Team: Can’t we just go paintball skydiving?
The good news is, improv isn’t about being funny. Or, at least, it isn’t required.
In its simplest form, improv is games designed to help adults play like kids again, which in turn helps with learning, communicating, and creating. Put another way, it’s exercises designed to help adults get past the judgements and stresses and fears (blanking, failure, embarrassment) that hold us back from being our best, most creative selves.
It just happens to look like a bunch of people being silly and goofing around and laughing together.
What are the Benefits of Improv?
Finally, the whole point of this post.
Improv helps with Team Building
It’s built around the idea of “Yes, and…” which basically means “Yes” I’m listening to what your idea is “and…” I’m going to build off of it to make the idea even better. In other words you have to work together as a team to build the scene.
Improv helps with Communication Skills
With improv, you can’t just wait for your turn to talk, or only care about your own ideas, or keep your ideas to yourself for fear they’ll be judged. You have to share your ideas and communicate clearly and effectively so other people understand to be able to build off of them.
Improv helps with Creativity
As adults we’ve lost touch with our imaginations, except maybe to picture potential problems and worst-case scenarios. Improv is practice in using our imaginations to build stories and worlds without being limited by the “rules.”
Improv helps with Thinking on Your Feet
I mean, that’s essentially what improv is. In the moment, you need to come up with something good to say (or do). You’ll be faster and better at it once you get over the judging and needing your words to be “perfect” as much as simply being able to express the idea.
Improv helps your Corporate Culture
An improv workshop is all about playing together as teammates, as opposed to workmates. To share the highs of building something hilarious together. And share the lows of failing miserably and building something hilarious together. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the constant seriousness of work, and just share a laugh together.
I could go on and on. Luckily there are a bunch of articles to go on and on for me.
Frankly, whatever your company needs, improv can help.
You’re probably thinking, man, this improv thing seems great!