Improv Q & A

I recently received an email from Paul Z Jackson, President of the Applied Improvisation Network. In it he sets out in Q & A format,a succinct description of what improv based training is all about. For your information, I’m reprinting it here:

Paul Z Jackson Interview

I was interviewed by a magazine journalist recently. Here are her questions, along with my (slightly edited) answers.

What’s the one key improv skill which could help anyone perform better at work?

The key improv skill is called ‘yes…and’, which means accepting and building. The accepting part depends on listening carefully so you are clear what’s being offered. Then – assuming you choose to accept (‘Yes’) – you build on that offer (‘And’), so that all the people in the conversation are constructing something useful together.

How does improv help you switch off the feeling of being self-conscious and help you access your creative self? What can you do to make this happen in everyday situations?

Improv helps you access your creativity by removing a lot of the fear of being wrong. You get more confident to have a go, and see your contribution as a low-risk experiment. A good tip for everyday is to listen for what you can agree with in what others are saying, and respond positively by building on those parts of the conversation. Conversation is turn-taking, and you can choose how to play your turns.

How is improv important in neutralising fear/anxiety? What tricks can you use to mimic that in a work situation?

Improv is not really about tricks or even removing feelings of self-consciousness. It’s about applying some of the on-stage skills used so brilliantly by performers in shows like ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’ to everyday situations in which we interact with other people.

Thank  you Paul!


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