What do you mean by Improvisation?

The Applied Improv workshops I run are based around the skillset and techniques that improvisers use when creating live, completely unscripted performances.  Improvised shows, often but not always comedy-orientated, can be anywhere from a few minutes to well over an hour long, and are created in the moment by actors, musicians, and others.   Improvised performances can only be successfully created through great listening, fantastic teamwork and boundless care and respect for the other players.

I don’t want to be a performer, so what has this got to do with me and my organisation?

This isn’t about becoming a performer.  Practicing Improvisation is a fantastic way of bringing about personal, organisational and social change because of the skills that you have to learn.  See the last sentence of the paragraph above…

How long will a session last?

Minimum 1 hour (though preferably 2).  Beyond that, 1/2 a day, 1 day and beyond.  For really effective cultural and behavioural change that sticks, a course of sessions is the ideal.

So what happens in an applied improv workshop?

You will laugh a lot!  Seriously.  The stuff we do in Improv is important, attitude-changing, paradigm-shifting, high-voltage experiential learning.  But  it’s also enormous fun and inevitably funny. It is always undertaken in a supportive environment that allows us to play safely.

Yes, I did say play.  I’m not going to hide the fact, you will play games.  Games are absolutely central to what we do.  They are not childish or meaningless.  They are not “icebreakers” before the “real” work starts.  They are the real work.  They are learning cauldrons.  Improv games are designed to bypass the limitations of your conscious intellect and ego, and plug into the extraordinary raw power of your unconscious.  The games and exercises we play are the crucible in which we can experiment with different behaviours and states of being.

Alongside playing the games will be time for reflection, to apply the learning to our day jobs and our lives.  We will discover what happens when we stop being paralysed by worrying about mistakes, and trust others to support us when make them; we will investigate how it feels to have no idea what is coming next, but to await it with “delighted anticipation”; we will experiment with different internal attitudes, and find out which ones help the team play well, and which hinder; we will experience what if feels like to be truly in the moment, and fully aware of what is happening in the here-and-now.

All of this, I promise you, will be fun, thought-provoking, and ultimately a potential doorway to huge change for you and your colleagues.

OK, so it sounds like fun, but does it have any actual value?  How can I convince my boss this is worth the lost productivity time?

There has been a lot of research into the value of Applied Improv for individuals and organisations.  In a nutshell, learning the skills of Improv boosts:-

  • trust within teams
  • emotional intelligence and awareness
  • workplace innovation
  • employee engagement and staff retention
  • agile management
  • better listening
  • networking skills
  • effectiveness in meetings
  • responsive crisis management
  • innovative problem solving
  • many, many more things that I don’t have space to list

For a lot more information and evidence, please read the Reference Material page, and follow the links on the Links page.


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