15 Improv Games, Exercises & Activities for Adults in 2022

Home » Resources » Improv GamesUpdated: April 07, 2022

You found our list of the best improv games, exercises and activities for adults!

Improv games are acting exercises that require participants to react in real time instead of following a script. For example, questions only, two truths and a lie, and one word at a time. The purpose of these activities is to help individuals practice quick-thinking skills, communication, and conflict resolution. These games are also known as “improvisation games” and “improv exercises.”

These games are a type of icebreaker game and communication game, and work for theater games and large group activities online. You can use an improv prompt generator for your games.

This article contains:

  • fun improv games for small groups
  • improv exercises for business
  • easy improv games for beginners
  • drama improv games
  • group improv games for team building
  • the best improv games for large groups
  • improv party games
  • improv ideas

Here we go!

List of improv games

Here is a list of improvisation games for small groups and large groups of adults.

1. Questions Only

Questions Only is an easy improv game for beginners. First, the group decides a scenario. Then, participants must act out the scene speaking only in questions. You can turn this exercise into a competition by deducting points or striking players out for hesitating or answering in statements. The game continues for a set amount of time, until the scene ends naturally, or until the last player remains.

Here is a list with more question games.

2. Rhymes

Rhymes has one simple rule, which is that every line must end in a rhyme. You can either require that every line rhymes with the same end word until a player messes up, or allow certain players to introduce new rhymes to the game. However, each line must still make sense within the proposed scene. To keep the game organized when playing with big groups, you can assign an order so that each player must answer in turn.

3. Party Hoppers

Party Hoppers is one of the more interactive improv exercises for business. At the start of the game, assign players to a breakout room with a particular theme. For instance, mythological characters, teenage stereotypes, or infamous historical figures. Players create a character and interact with groupmates. After five or ten minutes, call attendees back to the main room.

Then, randomize the breakout rooms so that each group contains a mix of characters. Participants must create and act out a plausible scenario that would unite these unlikely personalities. You can repeat this process as many times as you would like.

One great part about this game is that it allows the opportunity for players to interact with many other participants.

Here are more fun party games for Zoom.

4. Scenes From a Chat

Scenes From a Chat is a classic improv exercise adapted for Zoom. Audience members write scene suggestions in the chat box. An emcee selects one of the ideas at random, or selects the funniest scenario. Players then have five minutes to act out the scene. When the exercise ends, the next group can select another prompt from the existing chat, or can ask the audience for new ideas.

5. Sell It To Me

Sell It To Me flexes players’ persuasion and sales skills as well as improv abilities. Each player has ten to fifteen seconds to grab a nearby object. Then, the player must develop a convincing one minute or less sales pitch to sell the item to the group. The audience can rate each sales pitch on a numerical scale, and the actor with the highest score at the end wins. To keep the element of surprise, you can call for sales pitches in between other improv activities.

6. Alphabets

Alphabets requires that each consecutive line spoken starts with the next letter of the alphabet. For example:

Player 1: Ahoy matey! What ye be looking for?
Player 2: Buried treasure!
Player 3: Captain! I think I found it!
Player 4: Dunderhead! That’s not treasure!

First, propose a scenario, then designate a participant order. Or, you can let the game be a free-for all, with the condition that each player must speak only once. Since there are twenty six letters in the alphabet, every player in large groups gets a chance to speak. You can either end the game after every participant speaks once, or when the alphabet ends. Or, you can require that the game gets faster and faster until someone messes up.

7. One Word at a Time

One Word at a Time is one of the most common storytelling improv games. As the name suggests, participants devise a story one word at a time. Players can either speak the words aloud, or type answers in the chat. If two or more players speak at the same time, then the group can vote on which word stays in the story. The game is over when the story reaches a natural finish, and the player who spoke the first word announces “THE END.”

One Word at a Time is a great improv game for large groups because the more players, the wackier the story gets.

8. Earmuffs

Earmuffs is an exercise in lip reading and body language interpretation. Not to mention, it prepares remote employees for teammates forgetting to unmute mics during virtual meetings.

To play the game, one half of the group turns off the sound on their computers or mobile devices. Then, the other half receives and acts out a scenario. The muted team watches the act. When the scene ends, the second group gets a few minutes to confer with each other in a breakout room. Then, they return to the main room and act out their interpretation of the scene.

Pro tip: Record the meeting so that the silent team can watch the original scene with sound later.

9. Party Quirks

Party Quirks is one of the most fun improv games of all time. Each actor receives a strange party quirk to act out. At the end of the scene, normal partygoers much guess the identities of each strange guest.

Here are some examples of party quirk prompts:

  • A dog who can speak human, but only insults
  • An imposter doctor who now has to perform surgery
  • An identity thief in search of the next victim
  • Leonardo DaVinci trying to figure out how to use Zoom
  • An evil genius scheming to turn everyone into cats
  • Someone writing a fanfiction story about this party
  • Just discovered Elvis, and thinks he’s still alive

Pro tip: Take turns and play multiple rounds so that each player gets a turn to be a strange character or a guesser.

Party Quirks can serve as a fun drinking game too.

Here are more drinking games to play online with friends.

10. Your Screen Froze

Your Screen Froze is one of the best virtual improv games for big groups. Four or five players begin acting out a scenario. Throughout the scene, audience members can call out “your screen froze!” at any time. The speaking player will pretend that the last line never happened and take the scene in a completely different direction. There is no limit to how many times in a row the audience can call out, and theoretically an actor may have to think up several new lines.

11. Hostages

For most improv games and exercises, actors ask for audience suggestions before the skit starts. Hostage allows audience members to make suggestions and demands throughout the scene. At the start of the game, some players become actors or “hostages,” while others become suggestions or “masterminds.” The hostages begin acting out a scene. At any time, the masterminds can demand certain behaviors of the hostages. For instance, masterminds might instruct hostages to speak in a British accent, perform an interpretive dance, or mispronounce every fifth word.

Masterminds can shout suggestions out loud. However, the game is funnier if the audience does not hear the instructions. If playing in person, then masterminds can whisper the command, and if playing during a video call, then masterminds can privately message it to the hostage.

12. Tableau

Tableau is a visual improv game. First, the emcee shows the audience a picture. Then, the group has 2-3 minutes to gather materials and recreate the photo or painting with nearby objects. If playing on Zoom, then players will hunt around the house for supplies, and the most crafty or creative interpretation wins. Either way, be sure to snap lots of pictures for posterity!

13. Yes And

Yes And is one of the best improv trust exercises. Participants rely on each other to continue the story. Only by working together can participants finish the scene. First, one player makes a statement, and another responds with “yes, and…” and extrapolates. When playing in a large group, actors must silently give cues as to who should pick up the story thread. Players trust not only that another participant will pick up the plot without hijacking it, but also that other players will give them a turn. Yes And is one of the greatest collaborative improv exercises.

14. Excuses

Excuses is a game that encourages participants to concoct crazy stories. The game starts with a simple accusation such as, “why are you late?”, “why didn’t you take the garbage out?” or “why don’t you ever listen to me?” The first player makes up an excuse on the spot. Other players can corroborate and embellish upon the story, for instance by saying, “I was there, and I promise it’s true. In fact, Henrietta is being modest. She actually fought off twelve tigers, plus a man in a very convincing Tigger costume.”

The point of the game is to think up excuses that are extraordinary and entertaining yet not too outrageous.

15. Two Truths and a Lie

Two Truths and a Lie is one of the most popular improv games for team building. Each player takes a turn sharing two facts and one fiction with the group. Other players must decide which statements are real, and which are inventions. This game is a quick way for large groups to learn surprising facts about each other.

For similar activities, check out our full list of question games.

Conclusion

Connecting with other attendees during large gatherings can be a challenge, especially in virtual settings. Collaborative improv games and break the ice and banish jitters, warming up the crowd and enabling participants to interact with each other more freely. These games are fun and social, and help to develop confidence and quick-thinking skills. Improv exercises are one of the best ways to do team building at work.

For more easy fun, check out our list of icebreaker games for large groups, this list of 5 minute team building activities for the workplace, this list of small group team building activities, and this one with vocabulary games.

Next, check out this list of online improv games to play on Zoom and this list of books on improv.

FAQ: Improv games

Here are answers to common questions about improv games.

What are improv games?

Improv games are acting exercises with no script. Instead of reciting lines, actors react to the situation and improvise dialogue and action. Scene situations often come from audience suggestions. These games help players develop communication and listening skills and sharpen problem-solving abilities, which makes them great team building activities. These games are also known as “improvisation games” and “improv exercises.”

What are the best improv games for large groups?

The best improv games for large groups include One Word At a Time, Two Truths and a Lie, and Party Quirks. These games are interactive, fun and easy to learn for beginners.

Why should you do group improvisation games for team building?

Doing group improvisation games for team building helps participants learn to think quickly and stay calm under pressure. The games improve players’ communication and listening skills. Not to mention, improv is a way to break the ice and accelerate the team bonding process, especially for adults. If teammates can act goofy in front of each other and laugh together, then they will feel much more comfortable asking each other for help or advice.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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