Thirteen Ways to Jazz Up Your Game While Developing Your Skills
These thirteen “add-ons” provide a simple twist to the basic game to make your practice sessions even more amusing and rewarding.
Knock Your Socks Off
To practice literally “keeping a level head,” answer your prompt while balancing a folded pair of socks on your head. Or better yet, have everyone wear socks. Challenge yourselves to keep the expression and energy dynamic, without letting the socks fall.
This game helps players learn what 3-5 seconds of eye contact feels like. At the start of each round, all listeners raise a hand as if asking a question. The speaker’s goal is to get all of the hands down by individually holding eye contact with each listener for at least three seconds. Once the speaker initiates eye contact, the listener should count silently to three before lowering his or her hand. If the speaker darts away and comes back, the listener should start counting again from one.
To master the skill of pausing, snap your fingers twice at the end of each of your sentences. Or, select one of your fellow players to snap for you. Be sure not to allow any accidental fillers within the pause.
Stand and Deliver
Instead of answering the prompt while seated, raise the level of difficulty by having all players answer while standing at the front of the room. Be sure to focus on strong posture, strong voice, and strong eye contact.
Popsicle Stick Challenge
To master the clarity of your articulation, grip a Popsicle stick between your front teeth and speak as clearly as you can. By forcing your lips, jaw, and tongue to work especially hard, you’ll train yourself to develop clean, crisp articulation. (Stir sticks, chop sticks and pencils work equally well.)
Filler Flag Game
While the speaker focuses on eliminating “uh”s and “um”s, select one listener to briefly raise a hand to “flag” any accidental fillers. To keep it playful, you might even create a small orange penalty flag.
To help speakers eliminate an unconscious habit – such as playing with hair, cracking knuckles, or spinning a wedding ring – enlist the help of a little rubber duck or other squeaky toy. Every time the speaker slips into the accidental behavior, give a penalty squeak!
Stack the Deck
Instead of drawing cards at random, have players selectively choose cards for each other to challenge weak spots.
Fifteen-Second Sound Bite
This variation requires everyone to answer the same prompt, but each answer must be 15 seconds or less. It’s a great way to practice being concise.
To help develop emotional range and expressiveness, players must draw two cards – an impromptu topic and an emotion to display while answering. The facilitator can create cards ahead of time or have players jot down emotions on small slips of paper to be thrown into a hat. Some ideas include: Surprise, Sarcasm, Jubilation, Horror, Playfulness, Skepticism, Pride, Thankfulness, Embarrassment, Uncertainty and Self-Doubt, Regret, Excitement.
In addition to drawing an impromptu card, the speaker must choose a “personality” to adopt while answering. The facilitator can create cards ahead of time or have players jot down character types on small slips of paper to be thrown into a hat. Some ideas include: Impassioned Preacher, Carnival Barker, Valley Girl, Drill Sergeant, Game Show Host, Zen Master, Mad Scientist, Drug Dealer, Bohemian Poet, Town Gossip, Preschool Teacher, Absent-minded Professor, Aerobics Instructor, Rapper, or Stand-up Comedian.
To learn to keep your focus under difficult conditions, practice speaking to a deliberately unreceptive, bored, and distracted audience. For one raucous round, encourage other players to interrupt the speaker with off-topic questions, carry on side-conversations, write text messages, come and go from the room, take calls, and/or send confusing, non-verbal signals.
To learn to keep your composure under fire, practice speaking to an argumentative, contentious, and overly critical audience. As the speaker answers the prompt, encourage the other players to push back, poke holes in the speaker’s arguments, and challenge his or her ideas. This variation works especially well with the Purple Justifications deck.