Today's guest blogger is Impro Melbourne ensemble member Jessica Luu.
I started Impro Classes just as a way to meet new people and have some fun, however I soon realised that the lessons from Impro could easily transfer to my work.
I have worked for a government agency for a number of years and during this time, I have worked in various departments and teams. What I have found that has been vital to all those roles was the ability to work well with my team members and also staff from different sections and business areas. The work we do collaboratively ultimately allows us to meet our goals and objectives.
This is very similar to improvising. When we improvise, we have no scripts or plan to guide us through a narrative. All we have are our scene partners. Therefore, skills like active listening and increased awareness to our scene partners will help in discovering and progressing a scene. You quickly begin to realise that a scene is fun and successful when you work together.
We often think that listening skills are natural, and to an extent, they are. However, through impro training, we are able to practice and train ourselves to become a more active listener. For example, an impro game like “Word-At-A-Time” is a shared story developed by all the players involved. As the story is unfolding, you have to listen intently to each other so that the word you say will fit grammatically and narratively. Really listening means I can’t have a plan of the story in which I will tell, but discover it word-at-a-time. This has really helped me be better listener to my colleagues, instead of thinking of what I will say next or assume what they mean, I listen intently and ensure that I receive all information the colleague is communicating.
When doing improvised scene work, the biggest offer to the narrative will be from your scene partner, from their words, to their gestures and body language. So, these are often the things you will pay attention to. While working in teams of people, it really helps when you can notice how your colleagues are reacting when discussing work. Do they look uncomfortable or conversely enthused when asked to do certain tasks, or when explaining work processes do they look confused or confident? In these instances, when you notice these ‘offers’ from your colleagues you can shape the way you deliver your messages to ensure colleagues receive and understand what is required.
Taking impro classes has allowed me to learn and reaffirm the skills that I can transfer into my workplace, all while having a lot of laughs and fun along the way!