April Improv for Seacoast’s Visionary Business Leaders – First Letter Last Letter

Why Improv of the Month?

The thing about improv, when facilitated properly, is that you are always practicing communication-related skills. ‘Soft’ skills that require practice for pretty much everyone. It is like going to the gym for developing our listening and speaking up muscles that are crucial for customer service, frontline problem-solving, and staff morale. All things that affect your bottom line!

That’s why applied improv for businesses can be extremely helpful to leaders who are trying to create cultures where innovation and service are thriving. And although, there is definitely an expertise involved in dove-tailing improv education with organizational development, there are some fundamental activities that most anyone who is willing to try, can teach. This “Improv of the Month for Business Visionaries ” blogpost series is designed to provide leaders who are willing to dip their toes into improv teaching a place to start. It is completely free and no strings attached. I do suggest you read the intro to the series first and if you’d like more comprehensive support please check out train the trainer resources on my store page.

This activity is a fun way to bring focus onto listening skills!

April – First Letter Last Letter Word Association

How to play

It is pretty simple. One person says a word and another says a word that begins with the last letter of the word the previous person said. It can be played in pairs, which can feel safer to some, or in a circle.

Keep in mind, the learning is not about the words chosen, it is about listening to each other. And you will most likely note that people become engaged and focused while having fun. All things that hold value for individuals and teams especially in the high-stakes, high-stress work of healthcare!

Shana Merlin, improviser, teacher, and performer of Merlin Works demonstrates in this brief video!

Facilitation tips

  • Plant the seed for learning by telling your group that is a fun activity that will help them practice their listening skills.
  • If you think all individuals in your group will feel comfortable trying this out, go ahead and do it in a circle. If you think even one might feel shy or lacking of confidence either place them next to a friend or have people do this in pairs.
  • You can also give people a safety net by telling them they can make up words if they can’t think of anything. Part of what you might notice in this activity is your own or others hesitation and in some cases struggle to come up with a word. This speaks to how difficult assertiveness is at the roots and is worth noting!
  • For variations reverse the direction. This will insure that different patterns or relationships in listening and responding will occur. Also, note there is a subtlety of sharing power going on where people can make it easier or more difficult for the person next to them. Lots of layers going on!
  • Go around or back and forth a few times.
  • Debrief with questions like: What did you notice about listening? What other learning involving communication did anyone experience or observe? How can this activity help us at work?
  • Notice how much fun people have with this simple exercise and make a plan to do it again or with another group.

There is a lot more to applied improv than meets the eye!

Contact Beth to learn more about teaching improv in healthcare or other businesses. I’d love to help you improve communication and patient care and support your staff.


And check out the exciting new methodology offered in Be Crazy workshops co-created byLiz Korabek-Emerson and Beth Boynton!