11:44:00 AM

Tips on using improv and interactive games for training:

  1. FEAR
    One of the biggest fears of anyone is speaking in front of others. Quadruple that fear with the fear of looking stupid while speaking in front of others. Basically you then have improvisation. So you must break down those fears by using large easy risk free games in the beginning. YOU must play too. Get everyone use to being up in front of each other and speaking to one another. Use easy ice breakers or exercises that get the participants talking about themselves.

  2. FAILURE is a good thing.
    You must win. You must be successful. Not in improvisation. And not in life. If we did not fail how would we know when we won ? Did you ever watch the Carol Burnett Show ? I was always waiting to see if Tim Conway could crack any of the other cast up and make them mess up their lines. It’s fun to see people fail. Participants must know that we are all going to mess up and that we are all human. There are no bad ideas ! Successful improv relies on the fact that your ideas will be accepted and that you will accept whatever ideas your fellow performers come up with. Mistakes happen in life and in improv mistakes can be the best part of the game.

    Trust that no one will laugh at you when you are not trying to be funny. Trust that your brainstorm idea will be taken and used with everyone else’s. Trust that the rest of your team will be there for you. Building trust is all about building common ground, rapport and having empathy to one another. You must be the foundation and trust them.

    Risk to one person may be using a flavored creamer in their morning coffee and to another person risk may be bungee jumping off a cliff in the Dells. Although the definition of risk is as individual as the person you must encourage each participant to test their limits. To help them do what they think they cannot do. Encouraging risk while maintaining a sense of safety.

    We are taught from an early age that we must censor ourselves. We must watch what we say. We can spend so much time judging ourselves that we cripple our creativity (and happiness). In improvisation there is no time to critique or evaluate. You must create in the moment.

    When you do any interactive exercise that does not involve the whole group then you need a “ stage “ area and those who are not on the stage are the audience. The Fourth Wall is the imaginary line that separates the audience from the actor. The performers should perform all their mimed activity or space work at the Fourth Wall. Your audience wants to see your face as you open the refrigerator, unlock the safe or help Mrs. Plimpton back to her recliner. Also your participants need to be aware of the volume of their voice so everyone can hear. And let’s not forget to applaud courage and creativity!

    Coaching in improv to me is like helping someone learn how to ride a bike. You don’t sit on the seat for them. You don’t take over the handlebars if you don’t like where they are going or start pedaling if you don’t like how fast they are going. You DO run along side of them and give them tips, reminders and praise. You DO reach out and steady them once in a while. You DO hold on and them let go without them knowing. But then other times you let them go and let them thing fall over, so they can get back on and try again.

    Lead them to look at the situation in a new way. To heighten or to intensify the situation. Tell them to expand on that idea or go further with that feeling.

  8. FUN
    It is supposed to be.



You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.
~ Harper Lee

©2003 Karen Stobbe and "In The Moment". Material may be freely distributed with proper accreditation.