What is Applied Improv?

When you hear the word “improv,” what comes to mind?  What words do you think of?  Take a second.  Think about it.  “Improv.”  Think of 4 things that come to mind.
Got ‘em?

If you’re like folks in my corporate workshops, you came up with things like comedy, Whose Line is it Anyway, spontaneous, thinking on your feet, quick, funny, and so on.
And yes, improv is all those things.


There’s a deeper skillset at play in the practice of improv. A skillset that allows you stay open, connected, trusting, present, flexible, resourceful, and fun to be with. All while creating and collaborating effortlessly with another person or people.

As improvisers, we practice specific improv exercises to get better at these ways of being in order to be collaborative and creative on stage.
As you look at those ways of being, imagine where and how they might be useful in your life or at work. Where might it be a benefit to be open, connected, trusting, present, flexible, and so on?

In essence, that’s what Applied Improv is. We coach people in the skills of improv, and then help them uncover where and how they can be applied at work to reach specific goals.
The fun challenge of being an Applied Improv facilitator, is in designing sessions that are not only fun and engaging, but reach specific goals. Improv is always fun. The challenge is to make it relevant and useful.

Say a client is looking to help their team be more open and collaborative during meetings (a challenge we often hear.)

We’ll start by coming up with specific improv activities that practice creating as equals, taking risks, and the showing benefits of building on other’s ideas. The key is to find improv exercises that practice the skills that support the client’s goals.
Each of the improv exercises is followed by a focused debrief that highlights the skills just practiced, and what new behaviors foster that particular skill.

At some point about half way through the session, we segue into “where might this new skill support your team?”
We’ll then set up scenarios so participants can practice these new skills/ways of being in a real-life situation. For example, they’ll have a mock product development meeting using the new skills. This is the “applied” part of the Applied Improv session. Without this practice, it’ll be a really fun, bonding time, but the chances of lasting change are diminished.

That’s it.  Applied Improv in a nutshell.

Tons of fun with lasting change