Improv Cards are a great exercise to hone your storytelling and improvisational skills. They help people become better communicators and are great tools to use during team building sessions.
Each team or pair gets a set of cards, which they lay out in no particular order. One person is chosen to improvise a story from the drawings on the cards. As each person’s perception of the images on the card are different, the exercise sparks creativity in the participants, who in turn choose how to interpret the card and tell the story in their own way.
Using Improv cards brings people out of their comfort zone, teaching them how to be better communicators and work beyond their limits. With these skills, employees at all levels will be able to communicate a brand new idea, present a work project status or just communicate upwards what great work their team are producing!
You start out with a deck of 52 cards with intriguing images from Managing for Happiness. As their name suggests, you can do whatever you want with them – it’s all about helping your team improvise and come up with more ideas and share stories.
You could also call them story-telling cards. Some facilitators and managers put the cards face down in the middle. Pulling one at a time, participants and team members pull cards blindly from the pile, each sharing a work-life story that they associate with the image.
Improv Cards, established by Jurgen Appelo (Management 3.0), come in a set of 52 cards with intriguing images. Improv Cards are a great exercise to facilitate storytelling, improvisational skills and coming up with new ideas. I often use the Improv Cards in sprint retrospectives at the beginning for setting the stage. Using Improv cards brings people out of their comfort zone, but it’s still lot of fun.
Way 1: Sprint representative
The cards are on the table (face up) and all team members are sitting around the table. Everbody chooses one card, that represents the sprint for him / her. After everyone has chosen, one after the other shows his card and explains the meaning.
Way 2: A story about the sprint
The cards are on the table (face down) and all team members are sitting around the table. Everybody takes 3 cards. Then the cards are turned face up and one after the other shows his card and tells based on the cards a story about the sprint.
Way 3: Title first, story second
The cards are on the table (face up) and all team members are sitting around the table. Dependent on the team size it’s better to use 2-3 decks of cards instead of only one.
Everybody chooses 4 cards: One card for the title of the sprint and three which represent topics in the last sprint.
Way 4: Cooperative story
Build small groups with 3 people. Every group gets a deck of cards. Everyone in the groups takes 2 (face down) cards. Then the cards are turned face up. One starts telling a story about the sprint using his / her first card, then the next one continues with his / her first card, then the third one. After the first round the first person continues with the second card and so on.
Advantages of using Improv Cards:
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