Improv Games

YouTube Video

How Alan Alda went from TV doctor to teaching real doctors about empathy
CBC Radio · September 21
As part of his workshops, Alda trained doctors and scientists how to do improv. It's not for laughs, but to teach the building blocks of empathy. Participants carefully observe the other person, their tone of voice and body language for important cues to get inside their head. In mirroring exercises for instance, two people mirror each other's movements exactly. In order for it to work, each person needs to learn to subtly convey movements so the partner understands and mimics the gestures instantly, without a delay or echo. "

YouTube Video


If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?
Alan Alda
Talks about empathy building improv games
If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating
  • mirror exercise
  • observation games

""The person who's communicating something is responsible for how well the other person follows him."

"They're beginning to read each others's bodies, learning to pick up clues that will lead eventually to reading each others feelings and thoughts...."

Medical Education Research on Empathy and Improvisation
"Improvisers are experts in storytelling, spontaneity, and using observation skills to adjust to their audiences and team members accordingly. Among other skills, this 6-week course will teach participants how to:"

Xuan Zhao list of empathy building games
Classroom Games in “Leading with Empathy” 
Leadership Institute, Brown University