Hosting a work party - improv style part 1

One of our readers, Stephaine, left a the following comment to the article [intlink id="663" type="post"]How to Host an Improv Show[/intlink]:

This year I am the emcee of our company Christmas party. i’ve been to a party before and the host was an improvisor. he really got the room pumped up with a couple quick games using different staff.

... It’s a sit down dinner in a banquet hall, so I will have a stage area and captive audience.

Here is my advise for Stephanie who has some improv experience a few years back.

Follow the two underlying rules from “[intlink id="663" type="post"]How to Host an Improv Show[/intlink]”

  1. Help the audience enjoy the show
  2. You are not the focus

Help the audience enjoy the show

  • Eliminate distractions
  • alcohol can prevent people from paying attention or cause interrupting
  • you are at dinner, so don’t compete with the food play games before or after
  • watching is thrilling for some, and scarry for others choose activities/games that allow for people to be comfortable
  • If the space is big it's hard to hear, and you can loose people's attention
  • The more active the "audience" is in the game, the more fun it is

You are not the focus

  • Unless you are the start of the show, help move things along and be prepared.
  • Be ready to fill space when needed for transitions
  • Be clear with instructions and directions. Practice with a small group ahead of time
  • Make everyone look good and ask the audience to help be supportive
  • This is a work event, so be sure that the games and play will be accepted by the corporate culture

What games do I play?

If you have experienced improvisers then play anything that inspires them. If it's just a fun group that is willing to play along, focus on starting with games in pairs or large group games that have everyone involved. It's more fun to be playing than watch others.

There are many game resources out there including my favorite, the Improv Playbook ( which has a ton of games to try. Also there is a new game every Monday on the site and archives are available.

Some other resources are the Improv Encyclopedia and The Living Playbook by Unexpected Productions.  Leave a comment with your favorite source for games.

In Part 2 of this series I will suggest a few specific games that are both fun and simple.