Boost your communication skills with improv

Improv is taking on a whole new meaning with a group aiming to take personal and professional development to the next level.

When you hear the word “improv” does comedy immediately come to your brain? If so, you’re like most people. However The Engaging Educator program is using improv to develop better leaders and colleagues in the workplace. Their method focuses on presentation skills, communication, flexibility, interpersonal skills, and initiative. All factors to cultivate a better working environment and to help you become a better employee.

“We treat every client and student as an individual, developing customized programs that work with our audience and focus on your group, team and personal goals,” said Jen Brown, founder and artistic director.

Brown says the program has worked with individuals from a range of career backgrounds like fortune 100 companies, museums, schools and universities, and startups. Since 2012, they have reached more than 25,000 people with their development tools.

Each program is custom created and caters to the specific clients and students taking into account communication, presentation, and social skills.

“You aren’t like every other person or company out there – and we aren’t the cookie-cutter trust-fall team-building company,” said Brown. “Based in New York City, Los Angeles and Winston-Salem, NC, we’ve led programs in over twenty-five states, bringing our brand of ‘yes, and’ nationwide.”

While improv may not be everyone’s forte (especially those who are a little on the shy side), Brown compares the program to that of going to the gym. She compares the improv classes to going to the gym saying you can’t just go once and hope to fix everything, but you need to “push through the pain, follow the fear, and commit to it.” Essentially, you just have to get out there and do it.

“It takes almost 100 muscles just to say one word – you can’t just be magically great at it!” she said.

Research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2016 Job Outlook Report, shows that verbal communication is the most desired skill for job candidates. Still, it’s pretty common for most people to have a strong fear for public speaking. For many, it just does not come naturally. However, if you want to succeed at your job, and maybe at life in general, you will need to polish up those speaking skills.

The Engaging Educator teaches courses for professionals and educators. (Photo: Francine Daveta Photography.​​​​​​​​

So what kind of programs will you find at The Engaging Educator? Brown said anything to build your presentation, social and communication skills is the answer to that question. For the most part, the classes they offer vary depending on the day and schedule. You can visit their website to look at the calendar and see what classes are being offered in the future.

A program list includes courses like “Improv(e) Your Presentation Skills,” “Storytelling for Professionals,” and “Improv & Communication Skills for Women.”

In “Improv(e) Your Presentation Skills” teaches you how to focus on “how” you are going to present something, rather than stressing about “what” you are going to say. Here, you’ll learn basic presentation skills to help you knock it out of the park in your next conference or meeting. These skills are taught with warm-ups to build confidence and address fears, while adding the presenting and speaking skills. You even have the option of bring a previous presentation of yours to class, to be workshopped and receive feedback, during the two hour class session.

By now, you’re probably wondering why professionals need to know how to “storytell,” unless that’s their actual job in some capacity. Brown says knowing how effectively engage others in a story helps when teaching, presenting or simply having conversation.

A really unique course that you’re unlikely to find elsewhere is “Improv & Communication Skills for Women.” The Engaging Educator’s founder and their other “Engagers” said they found themselves to be the only females in the “boys club of comedy.” For this reason, they decided to create what they call a “safer space for women to speak up, take initiative and connect with their communication style.” This classes focuses on improv as it pertains to communication in professional settings like a meeting or conference room.

Brown said The Engaging Educator’s classes are made for the average person, not someone pursuing a career in entertainment.

“Most improv classes in NYC also cater to actors, and we are 100% not for an actor – we’re teaching teachers, working professionals, students, people looking for a job, people looking for a new job, people working on their dating life and communication skills, bosses, employees, CEOs, CFOs and wannabe CEOs,” Brown said.

The people at The Engaging Educator are so passionate and dedicated about what they do, they will also personalize classes based on your needs.

“Aside from our public classes, we love to come to you,” said Brown. “We offer one-on-one coaching and customized programs – our shortest has been a 45-minute lunch and learn, and our longest? A three-YEAR training program!”