Growing up, everyone has been to a retreat, camp, conference or social gathering where the program starts up with an activity of some sort to help everyone get to know each other. These are improvisational games, that test how quickly you think, how creative you can and how well you communicate and coordinate with others. So, unbeknownst to you, you’ve been doing improv!
Warm ups, game handles and icebreakers are the three styles of improvisational games that groups use in comedy routines, improv games and exercises as well as team building conferences and workshops. It all depends on what you’re trying to achieve. For instance, audience warm ups and participation icebreakers will be different than exercises needed for team building.
A warm up is a necessary part of any social interaction and sets precedence to how participants will embrace and interact throughout the event.
Icebreakers are at the beginning of the session and create an introduction and awareness to those around us. Nowadays, people avoid eye contact and isolate from each other, even when participating and facing the same activity. It is the responsibility of the facilitator to create ease and generate conversation between strangers. Icebreakers are the most efficient way to start communication, as the best type of team building is achieved through cohesive and inclusive exercises.
Character building and concentration activities come up, usually, later on in the program in order to ensure that when participants are grouped they are already feeling fairly comfortable with each other. Gibberish and guessing games are also more tricky and should be used after the participants are comfortable so they can be paired with each other.
Many people have positive memories tied to these improvisational exercise experiences, but the leaders and organisers of improvisational activities know the real level of strategy at the core of these social events.