Top 5 Ways Virtual Improv Workshops Build Connection in this Time of Isolation

Tightrope Impro Theatre
3 min readSep 22, 2020
Ali and I doing some lesson planning over zoom!

Hi, I’m Dan Dumsha and I’m the director of Improv for Work & Wellness at Tightrope Theatre in Vancouver. Since the pandemic started, I’ve led more than 50 virtual improv workshops — for Public Speaking, Brain Health, Dementia & Alzheimer’s, and for Parkinson’s Disease. My biggest take away is that these workshops build CONNECTION. I believe meaningful connection is the central benefit of improv… for individuals, for teams, for everybody.

It’s safe to say that most of us are spending WAY more time at home than ever before in the last six months. You’re not the only one who’s felt lonely, bored or tired because of the isolation.

Although my dog feels like things have changed for the better, I’ve found it hard to adjust to the lack of social interaction. Leading virtual improv workshops has given me connection just when I’ve needed it the most.

Here are my top 5 ways that virtual improv workshops build connection:

5. Being Present

To relax, we “netflix n chill.” Watching video content feels inherently passive — we sit back and watch (even live streams). When you watch a video, you’re in a mode of receiving, without interaction. It’s different in a live virtual Improv class. We invite everyone to be on camera as much as possible. When your camera is on and you tune into a virtual class, you exist for others. You interact. You respond. The simple factor of seeing the group and being seen at the same time starts the connection. First, you’ve got to BE PRESENT. Then you can discover the power of being in the moment. Investing your full attention makes you available for connection and not just a passive consumer.

4. Offering and accepting ideas

Offering ideas can be scary. It can feel safer to say nothing. When you offer an idea to someone else, you take a risk of being rejected. In improv, we coach on the “yes, and” technique to create a safe atmosphere to offer ideas. The “Yes, and” technique guides you to accept and build on the ideas that you receive… as opposed to “yes, but” or just plain “um, no”. By practicing the skill of building on ideas, everyone feels safer to offer ideas. Every improv workshop focuses on how to free yourself up to offer ideas and how to respond to the ideas of other people in a way that builds connection. An improv workshop is like a great baseball practice — but the baseballs are ideas — we throw, catch, and knock them out of the park.

3. Listening to co-create

If I don’t listen, I’m not learning. Improv training focuses on listening so that you can react to what you hear, and build on it. There are so many great improv exercises that work on fine tuning the skill of listening. Often isolation can be intensified by a self-focus. When you deeply listen to someone else and can show it — you create more connection on both sides of the interaction.

2. Relationship building through laughter

When we both laugh at something together, our sense of humor is activated… and it feels amazing. Instant bonding! The unplanned nature of improv allows for spontaneous moments of hilarity, and they happen at every workshop! It’s these moments of laughter that provide release, delight and big connection. It’s part of what makes improv addictive.

1. Getting to know you

It seems obvious. The best way that improv workshops build connections is by learning more about people. You get to know how someone else’s mind works. We develop empathy by learning about what life is like for someone else. The shared experience of an improv workshop creates something in common between classmates that often grows into friendship. Building relationships and sharing common experiences directly combat isolation through connection.

Why don’t you boost your connection in one of our upcoming improv workshops. Click this link for more information on how to customize a workshop for your team or organization!

So sign up — and start enjoying the MEANINGFUL CONNECTION!

Make sure to check us out on facebook, instagram, twitter, and stay tuned for more articles on our Medium account.

Dan

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Tightrope Impro Theatre

At Tightrope Impro Theatre we practice, teach, apply, and develop the art form of improvisation.