You can improvise a song or a story, but you can also improvise an afternoon, a childcare plan or how you decorate your home. Because improv is an idea, a technique more than it is an art form. At its heart, improv just means doing something without knowing exactly what is going to happen. That means life itself is mostly improvised.

People often know of improv from the hit TV programme ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’. Surreal quick-fire comedy games, stories, and songs in front of a TV audience. But saying this is improvisation is like saying ‘rock is music’ or ‘pizza is food’; it is only part of the picture.

At AndAlso, although our creative practice is improvising theatre shows, the aim of our Improv in the Workplace training is not to create performers, but to share the benefits of improvisation in other, non-theatrical contexts. We believe that the skills of improvisation are useful to all and accessible to anybody and have shared them with organisations from the NHS to Samsung, Google to Johnson & Johnson.

Why do improv in my organisations?
  • Improv quickly builds bonds within and between teams, reducing the likelihood of conflict and increasing team coherence
  • Improv contributes to a culture of honesty and clear communication
  • Improv helps give vocabulary to describe group behaviour, leading to cultural change
  • Improv enables participants to see each other as fully rounded people rather than functions in an organisation. This helps communication and flexibility
  • Improv helps groups to create and develop ideas together, so you get the most out of ideation and product development sessions
  • Improv reduces stress and releases tension through laughter, helping with mental health and job satisfaction

Just as there is no single answer to ‘Why Exercise?’, there is no single answer to ‘why to do improv’. Improvisation has many benefits, both inter- and intra-personally and we can tailor our sessions to the needs of your organisation and profile of your participants.

A few myths about improv

Here are a few popular myths about improv:

Myth 1 – Improv means being quick, clever, and funny

Untrue! Improv is a cooperative art form, not an individual one. It focuses on the task, not the ego. Often, the most fascinating and delightful ideas come from moments of coincidence and release. In fact, we spend a lot of time telling people to be less funny, do less, and go slower. Collaboration comes in small units.

Myth 2 – Improv means winging it

False! Improvising well involves building the skills and attitudes that will make your professional life successful. How you define your success is up to you. In business and in life, we can’t predict what is going to happen. Improvising means having the skillset to deal with that.

Myth 3 – Improv is just what happens when things go wrong

There are, of course, times when we need to respond to problems and mistakes, big and small. But there are also times when it benefits us to deliberately discard a plan when something else comes along. Improvising is what we are doing when things are going well as well as when they are going badly. It means responding well to whatever is happening, whether that is good bad, or neutral.

What does a session look like?

When people hear the word improvisation, they often imagine a terrifying environment, where the loudest and fastest compete to be brilliant and funny. But this is not how we approach improvisation. It doesn’t bring the best out of everybody and it doesn’t sound very fun! Some people thrive under pressure, and some people hate it. Or rather, people have different tolerances for different forms of pressure.

In our classes, we create environments that will allow everyone to participate in a way that works both for them and for the group. We work very hard to make people comfortable and build from simple exercises to more complex and challenging ones in a way that means participants often don’t realise how far they have come.

To this end, most time in our sessions is spent in pairs or small groups. We rotate these regularly to keep the combinations fresh and to give opportunities to examine how we respond to different people. Most of the time, an audience is completely unnecessary.

Our sessions will normally contain the following stages:


Depending on the nature of the session and the team, we may start with a short presentation. This will set the context and explain the ideas underpinning what we do and possibly the specific outcomes for the day. Generally, this is no longer than ten minutes.

Group warm-up

We normally start with a full group exercise or two. These might be passing an impulse or word around a circle, or responding to simple rhythms and ideas. These exercises get people used to responding quickly and instinctively.

Creating ideas

Improv is built on creative abundance. It is easier to create ten ideas and choose your favourite than try to force a single idea to work. These exercises involve uncritically creating many ideas in order to not become precious about any single one.

Building ideas

A core part of improvisation is working on how we collectively build in small increments. In this stage of a workshop, we practice the principle of ‘Yes And’ (also known as Accept and Build) and feel how vulnerable creative processes can be, but how powerful when a team is on the same page.


Depending on the aim, a session might include an opportunity for some or all of the group to perform in front of each other. This is never obligatory. The aim of this is often to artificially raise the pressure and see how we respond. It can also be a lot of fun.


A core part of any improv session is to reflect. Our sessions will generally contain at least two points where participants are given the opportunity to think about the meaning and effect of what they are doing. This is normally done in pairs and then as a full group.

What do you need to run an improv session?

In face-to-face classes, our normal group size is between 12 and 24, though we have delivered sessions for over a thousand. We also offer one-to-one coaching. We need a room big enough for people to stand in a circle. We ask that this space be as clear as possible, without conference tables or other items of bulky furniture. Improv can be a little noisy, so we recommend somewhere where we will not disturb other people. And of course, if we are doing a presentation to introduce the session, we will need AV equipment.

What about online sessions?

Nearly all of our sessions can be adapted to be run online. In fact, we were among the first improvisation teachers to move our classes online and taught up to three sessions per day during the height of the pandemic. We do this using Zoom. We provide you with a link and ask that your participants commit to keeping their cameras and microphones on for the session and that they are in a private space to be able to participate fully.

Our previous clients include

Johnson & Johnson
King's College London
UK Atomic Energy Authority
Merck & Co.
Cowi A/S
Financial Edge
Brigham Young University, Provo Utah

Find out how we can help you

“Connection on a different level.”

Julie Flower, Management Consultant