We all wear a number of hats in life, child, parent, partner, friend, a colleague... What also drew me to Improv, given my background in Communications and Psychology, is how vastly applicable the benefits of Improv are.
Kids, I often find that children are the best natural improvisors, the young who haven't yet taken on all the filters that life-experience brings us, to be super-polite, cautious...to refrain from sharing that idea around the meeting table because we're not quite sure it's perfect, feeling awkward and shy...
Improv can benefit kids in many ways, to keep or hone their spontaneity, their creativity, their confidence, to have a mutual respect for others and their ideas.
Improv for Business started gaining traction about a decade ago. It is now a staple of many top tier Business Schools such as Duke, MIT, UCLA, and Stanford. Many large companies, like Google, McKinsey, and Amazon include Improv in their own corporate training.
“In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea,” is how one Google representative describes it.
For Scientists and the Technically minded: it was in 1993 when acclaimed actor, author, producer Alan Alda began his twelve year journey of exploring “Scientific American Frontiers” as host of the American television show. His biggest surprise discovery however, was how much his own experience as an improvisor could help many of these scientists to better tell their story.
“Improv helps scientists re-engage with their own passions in their work, get out of their head and connected to the needs of the listener, be able to respond more freely, spontaneously and flexibly,” says Valeri Lantz-Gefroh, the improvisation coordinator at Stony Brook University.
Dr. Christine O’Connell adds that, ”Scientists are not just becoming better communicators now, they’re becoming stronger scientists.”
All of these benefits are, at minimum, valuable by-products of what is first and foremost, a great deal of fun.