At UCB, we offer improv workshops to corporations and nonprofits. We work with a wide range of organizations including Google, Nike, Ernst & Young, NYU, and many ad agencies. These organizations typically bring us in to help facilitate team building, collaboration, better listening and creativity. We also get brought in to help deal with specific challenges -- some highly unusual, others more traditional. Here’s a list of some recent tasks and issues organizations have asked us to address:
1. Giving Better Presentations
Most people don’t like speaking in public or getting up and giving presentations. Unfortunately, for many of us, doing so is an important part of our work lives. But we believe that, yes, it is possible to learn how to relax, follow your gut and give great presentations. In our presentation skills workshops, we show participants how to use improv tools to become stronger, more connected, more compelling presenters. We help people with:
- Thinking faster on their feet
- How to turn a problem or mistake into an opportunity when presenting
- How to read a room and adapt accordingly
- How to listen like an improviser
- Practical tools for reducing stress
2. Prepping Non-Native English Speakers for Job Interviews:
An Ivy League University’s business school recently asked us in to help their non-native English speakers prep for job interviews. We focused on helping these students become more comfortable with asking for clarification or expressing that they didn’t understand a question. Helping them become more relaxed, confident and able to go with the moment was key to successful and productive interviews.
3. Helping New Candidates with Campaigning Skills:
The tools of improv have direct applicability to running for office. Today we are working with a number of organizations including Eleanor’s Legacy, Annie’s List and End Citizens United. Our workshops for candidates focus on better listening, collaboration, and thinking fast on your feet. We also drill down on skills like how to read a room, change the energy in a crowd, field criticism and difficult questions, and better frame their personal narratives.
4. Improving Communication Among Residents and Patients
We’re seeing hospitals and patient care groups expressing interested in bringing UCB in for workshops. They see value in applying the tools of improv to everything, from how doctors and nurses listen to patients and convey information, to helping emergency teams read each others’ signals. Stay tuned to our blog for insights and updates as we move forward with this work.
5. Helping Conference Attendees Break the Ice
Our standard workshops serve 15-20 people, but we also offer Masterclasses, which are designed for larger groups up to 500. These are ideal for conferences, particularly at the beginning when lots of attendees don’t know each other. Our improv exercises are ideal for getting people to interact, have fun, forget their worries -- and connect with one another. We get people collaborating in a risk-free way right off the bat. Check out this article from AdWeek about a Masterclass we held at Accelerate, the American Association of Advertising Agencies' annual conference.
6. Guiding Teams Away from Stubbornness
A tech client reached out to us because individuals on his team needed to collaborate better. When working on complex projects, their stubbornness was getting in the way. He saw that many of his team members were not good at listening or seeing the possibilities in others' ideas. Our client was facing a situation where everyone on his team would walk into a meeting thinking they had the best possible idea and would be unwilling to accept anyone else’s ideas, or even work with one another. Our exercises helped this group see the big picture and experience firsthand the value of what it means to truly listen.
7. Better Brainstorming
This is something we typically do with ad agencies; they’re in the business of both generating and executing creative ideas. They bring us in to add value to the ideation process.
We usually do this in two ways. Our half-day UCB Brainstorming Intensive is structured as a writers’-room roundtable. An agency typically brings three to five creative professionals to the table; we provide three to four writers/comedians and a UCB moderator to run the session. A full-day UCB Brainstorming Intensive includes improv workshops where we use improv exercises and techniques to solve for the creative challenge or question. We then move to a roundtable format to continue generating, evaluating and building out ideas.
If you have a specific challenge and need help with your team, let us know. We’d love to talk to you about how improv can help. Get in touch at SayHello@UCBindustries.com.