Advice and tipps for moderators teaching improv online

During this Corona virus quarantine we have to improvise, but the online media can be challenging. We put together some advice here.

Suggestions for the games

  • Warm up is essential to tune up all the people into the same structure, focus
  • Some games can be more fit, the ones with a lot of words are better than the gibberish or body language ones because the body components is almost fully missing.
  • It would be actually interesting to try some singing games because they have a clear structure.
  • Max didn't find yet a way to avoid people not talking to do something else into the background. Of course if two people are talking for a scene and other people are doing other things, moving hands or whatever this screw the attention of all the group.
  • Good thing, this improv online opens up to a total new stream of opportunities in term of object work. Think about passing an object on screen from one character to the other getting the simulated object closer to the camera. A beautiful warm up that just came to my mind would be to let between the different screens a ball passed from screen to screen.
  • Pen friends
  • Ball metamorphosis
  • Count until 21
  • Poesie in fantasy language
  • CROW in fantasy language
  • At the cinema
  • Dating game
  • “Characters moving in” cuadrant
  • Reclamation
  • Speak and stay:
  • Story spine
  • I, you, we
  • ABC Game

FIXME List of Games #8 with focus on building trust: Add games from here on

Next time

FIXME Complete this

  • 3 Different Sequences with a cities, fruits and cloths (drinks, food, animals) Requires good internet connection
  • Horoscope (the moderator reads a sign from an horoscope and ask someone to do an action using that description)
  • Convergence (association in pairs)
  • Ads with an objects, the moderator says what this object is, 1 minute per participant

Before the workshop

  • Get there ten minutes before for the keen folks, and be ready with your water/tea/coffee so you can chat and make people feel at ease
  • First minutes are always lost at the beginning for set up and technicalities not working, it takes everytime 10 mins at least.

Starting the workshop

  • Check in: You don't get the pre-class chat and hang, so we feel it's really important to hear from everyone before you properly start the class.This helps getting people's brains engaged
  • Do the technical introduction at the start. That way when you are moderating, your participants are only focus on the exercise not on the technical gear. We recommend getting people to try out muting, turning the camera on and off and moving in and out of break out rooms right at the start.
  • Ask people if they know the gestures we are going to use

During the conference

  • Nurture focus. We are get distracted very easy at home! Ask people to put other screens out of reach, to full screen and not have their self-view visible. This helps create and maintain the focus. Get anything that can distract out of there.
    • The loss of concentration of people connected is exponentially with the number of people connected. More then 10/15 people it becomes really really though to have the people focused on the screen. Even with 7 is not easy. It seems that the attention rule of 5(+-2) applies here as well.
  • Allow time for lag! You can expect a little more silence when you ask questions to the class. Thinking time + lag time can make you paranoid. That silence is ok. Maybe nominate a little more than usual. Think how many thousands of miles that signal is travelling….
  • Also, sitting isn't everyone's favourite improv position, so just don't get stuck there. Stand up to play scenes. It works. FIXME Try this out
    • Better to not let the people always sitting because when sitting is difficult to have scenes fully.
  • Camera off is offstage, camera on is onstage! It focuses you on the faces who are playing. Ask people to turn their cameras off to make scene starts clear. When you call scene, turn yours on and use your crossed hands and scene gesture.
  • Putting people into break out rooms means you can't monitor everything. Make sure people know how to use the chat to communicate with you solo if you have a public class. Something might happen that you didn't see/hear and people need to feel safe. Check this in your tech briefing.
  • Encourage full stops Sometimes in improv scenes, nervous improvisers just talk till the other person interrupts, and this whole online thing is new to us all. Interruptions don't work that well cos of lag. Call this out and get people to practise good improv hygiene. FIXME We have to try this out!
  • Try anything you would try in a class, then adapt.

After the conference

  • Tell people you're experimenting and ask for their feedback
  • FIXME Create a feedback survey

Conference tools comparison

Conference toolMaximum number of participantsTelefone dial inScreen sharingMonthly feeStable for 20 participantsCompatible with UbuntuCompatible with WindowsCompatible with MacGallery modesDivide people in groupsUsage without installation
Freifunkt München (based on Jitsi)

FIXME Max, could you complete this section FIXME They have all some limitations, houseparty is the sexy one and would allow some nice impro functionalities but is up to 8 people.

FIXME Above is the old information

Must have

  • For 20 or more participants
  • Telephone dial in
  • Screen sharing
  • Costs EUR 20 per month or less
  • Stable for 20 participants
  • Compatible with Ubuntu, Windows and Mac

Could have

  • Gallery mode to see all participants at once which make for a more immersive experience
  • Participants can be divided in smaller groups
  • Usage without installation with a browser

Products to try

Discarded products

  • It don't work on Kyra's machine
  • EZtalk: It don't work under Ubuntu

Useful links


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