Putting Improv to Work

Spontaneous Performance for Professional and Personal Life


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About the Book

Improv is an art form in which participants act and respond in the present, trusting that each thoughtful action will lead to a wonderful outcome—even if it isn’t the intended result. In this book, the principles and practices of unscripted theater are applied to non-theatrical circumstances.

This book is based on a highly successful business school course, and aids in the development of communication, teamwork, creativity, confidence, emotional intelligence and other abilities. Each chapter assesses a different component of improv—how it connects to stage success and how it can be used in professional, academic and social settings. This is the only text that lays out an entire course on applied improv, providing activities with detailed instructions and descriptions. With roots in higher education, the book is informal, entertaining, and designed to be beneficial for anybody. Behavioral science, philosophy, art and athletics are all used to inform this discussion of improv and its real-world applications.

About the Author(s)

Greg Hohn is a communication professor at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, where he began teaching in 2000. He has been a professional improviser since 1989, when he joined Transactors Improv Company in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, becoming the company’s director in 1996. He also taught in Duke University’s Theater Studies Department for five years and has led applied-improv programs for corporations, organizations, and academic institutions across the U.S. and outside it. His theater career has also focused on original and musical works, and he has acted in film, TV, radio, and industrial media.

Bibliographic Details

Greg Hohn
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 225
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8775-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4635-0
Imprint: Toplight

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction 7
1. Self-Consciousness and the Spotlight Effect 11
2. Your Check-In Time 18
3. Rip to Connect 26
4. Laying the Groundwork: Finding Your FIZ 32
5. Getting FIZical 38
6. Focusing on Process 46
7. Leading by Following 56
8. Creativity: What Is It and Who Has It? 65
9. Yes and There Is a Chapter on “Yes-And” 71
10. Thinking Inside the Box 80
11. The Myths of Perfection and Originality 89
12. All Systems Go 98
13. Act Authoritatively, Be Authoritative 109
14. Movement and Meaning 120
15. Behavioral Status: The Bunny and the Bear 133
16. The Reason of Emotion and the Strength of Vulnerability 143
17. Tabula Rasa: The Blank Slate 157
18. It’s Not All About You and It’s Not All Bad 166
19. Fake Ads: A Capstone Activity 176
20. Open Improv Scenes: The Keys to the Car 183
21. Applied Improv at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School 195
Notes 207
Recommended Reading 211
Index 213

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Greg is one of the best teachers at our business school. Through improv, he provides our students with skills that enable them to think and adapt better in an ever-changing, uncertain world.”—Douglas A. Shackelford, Dean, Meade H. Willis Distinguished Professor of Taxation, UNC Kenan-Flagler;

• “Greg Hohn has inspired generations of students at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School with his popular course on applied improvisation. This book will help institutions around the country and the world to benefit from Greg’s insights on how to use the skills of improvisation to dramatically enhance one’s leadership.”—James W. Dean, president, University of New Hampshire

• “This book epitomizes what good teaching of any kind is all about… the essence of applied improv at its finest. Our learning is richer because of this book.”—Karen Dawson, PhD, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary

• “If you’re a teacher or a team leader, buy this book! It’s written in an easy to read, conversational style. If you’re learning improv for the first time, you should have this nearby as a guidebook. Hohn is an experienced improv performer and educator, with over 20 years teaching students at UNC Kenan-Flagler, one of the country’s top business schools. The 21 short chapters are each filled with hands-on techniques for both individuals and groups, all of them refined through years of use in the business classroom. Just open any page and you’ll find an exercise you can use. Make sure that you have lots of post-it notes because you’ll be returning to this book over and over.”—Dr. Keith Sawyer, Morgan Distinguished Professor in Educational Innovations, UNC-Chapel Hill, author of The Creative Classroom: Innovative Teaching for 21st-Century Learners.