Engage Staff with “I am” – March Improv of the Month for Visionary Leaders on the Seacoast!

As discussed in the introduction to this series, integrating improv activities into your day to day work can be part of an organizational development effort to boost to morale, improve communication skills, build positive relationships and cultures. This month we’ll explore an incredibly simple activity called “I am”. If you are willing to take 10 minutes out of a staff meeting, clinical inservice, orientation process or other, you will build positive relationships and promote assertiveness and listening skills!

Discovering “I am”

This exercise is simple and promotes trust, self-awareness, empathy, and communication skills. By making time for “I am” in your meeting, you will help staff practice assertiveness and listening while inviting people to get to know each other a little better.

How to Teach “I am”

On a piece of paper, have staff complete the sentence, “I am _____________” three times. Tell them they will be sharing with 2-3 others in the group. Give them examples:

“I am excited about this meeting.”

“I am stressed about our new phone system.”

“I am hungry.”

Give the group 5 minutes or so to complete and then instruct them to share with 2-3 others over the next few minutes.

Pen with "I am ____________" three times.

Facilitation Tips

  • Encourage participants to spent equal time sharing their “I ams” and listening to those of others.
  • Be patient with the initial quietness of this activity. People tend to be tentative at first, yet within a minute or two all sorts of conversations emerge.
  • If your group is large use a bell or other signal to wrap up their conversations.
  • If time allows or your priorities warrant debrief with questions:
  1. What do you think about this improv exercise?
  2. Can you describe any learning related to emotional intelligence or communication skills?
  3. Is and if so how is this activity helpful to the team?

In my book on Medical Improv I go into more details about skills, facilitation, and variations for this activity and 14 others.

Share your story!

What do you notice about this activity?  Was it easy to teach?  Did people seem to have fun? Even some who might groan a little?  

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

If you want, take a picture and write a short story about it. Maybe we’ll publish on the Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab Blog. 🙂

Contact Beth to learn more about teaching improv for staff development businesses or submit your story. And check out the exciting new methodology combining improv with mindfulness offered in Be Crazy workshops co-created by Liz Korabek-Emerson and Beth Boynton! Beth@bethboynton.com


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