Adventures in Improvisation for a Keynote Speaker

I’ve been learning improvisation skills for a couple of years now. I find it helps me become a better speaker by developing my performance muscles, but also tests me in ways that motivational speaking sometimes cannot. In simple terms, improv helps me ‘be in the moment’, surviving on my wits. It’s a country mile away from delivering a well-rehearsed business talk. In improv, everything is new, all the time. And when the unexpected is expected, you’re ready for whatever each day can throw at you. That’s an insanely useful skill for professional conference speakers like me.

Imrpovisation Class Photo

And so I am delighted to have just completed the Character Improvisation Course at Dingbats Improv at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley. This eight-week programme explored the many aspects of creating a well-rounded character in improvised performances, based loosely around the acronym FLAVOMPH (Face, Language, Attitude, Voice, Opinion, Movement, Posture, and History). It’s remarkable how interesting a stage character can become simply by focusing on one or several of these elements, or indeed playing with them to create an unexpected contradiction.

I’ll be using these new skills to elevate my business keynote performances. Not to improvise characters, but to tell more engaging stories, or simply to have the courage to try something new and unexpected. And no matter how many times I practise improv, I now accept that you never stop learning its secrets. It’s a multi-layered, mysterious discipline, magical when it works, briefly crushing when it doesn’t. But it’s always a joy when you’re learning with like-minded, enthusiastic, supportive people and under the wing of an experienced trainer.

If you haven’t tried improv yet (what’s keeping you?) get in touch and I’ll explain how you can start.