Six Ways UCB'S Tools of Improv Help Organizations Achieve Specific Goals

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
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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.

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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.

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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.

8th Annual NBCU/UCBTNY Diversity Scholarship

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NBCU is offering scholarships for students to take classes at The UCB Theatre Training Center in NYC.  A live “Finalists Showcase” will take place in August at The UCB Theatre for 10 finalists selected by the Artistic Director of the UCB Theatre NY and NBCU. The 2018 Diversity Scholar will be selected by both UCBT and NBCU executives based on the performances at the showcase. 

The scholarship recipient must be located in or around New York City. The recipient will be responsible for their own transportation costs to and from New York City for classes. The recipient may use the scholarship towards any UCB Training Center class they are eligible for (based on availability).  

WHO CAN APPLY?

This scholarship seeks to celebrate voices that are underrepresented in professional comedy jobs. Unfortunately, that tends to be anyone who isn't a straight white male in their 20s. So, we invite all performers, particularly women and people from diverse backgrounds less commonly seen on the comedy stages of NYC, who are currently house performers at an improv theater or have completed a core improv course at a recognized longform improv theatre/school to apply. In other words, this scholarship is not for beginners, but for folks with some comedy experience already under their belt. 

SUBMISSION WINDOW OPENS: June 8th, 2018

SUBMISSION WINDOW CLOSES: July 6th, 11:59 PM EDT, 2018

Diversity Scholarship Finalist Showcase Date: Thursday August 16th, 7pm, UCBT East Village 

--semi-finalists will be notified by August 3rd; semi-finalists will audition for NBCU and UCBT in a private audition August 10th, Time TBD; finalists to perform at public showcase will be chosen from this private semi-finalist audition. All days/times are subject to change

HOW DO YOU APPLY?

All applicants must completely and correctly fill out this Google Form (https://goo.gl/forms/1fgDJFmdZjCpk1aM2) and include ALL of the following materials:  

1. VIDEO

Create a 3 minutes or less video showing us who you are. It must include the following:

30 Seconds or less, tell us why you think you are a good candidate for the scholarship. 

Remaining time should consist of 3-5 characters performed by you. The video does not have to be professionally edited, bells and whistles are not necessary. The Characters performed can be in front of an audience,  filmed in your home or elsewhere. Material must be written by you. Do what you think best shows us your range and talent. 

Videos longer than 3 minutes will not be watched and will disqualify you from consideration.

Video format: 

Link to performance, YouTube preferred

Do NOT send a link/format that requires downloading (like YouSendIt, dropbox etc). 

Do NOT send a password protected or private link 

If you want your video to be watched and considered, follow these rules! 

2. LINK TO HEADSHOT & RESUME

A performance resume or a list of your performance or comedy background. Please specify which core improv program you have completed, and/or the theater where you currently perform.

Do NOT send a file to download or a link to a file to download. 

3. CONTACT INFO

You must fill in all requested contact information. 

4. TRAINING EXPERIENCE

You must provide info on where you have studied improv. 

Google Form must be completely and correctly filled in or your submission will not be taken into consideration. Here is a link to the form again: https://goo.gl/forms/1fgDJFmdZjCpk1aM2

If you have any questions that have not been answered above, you can email UCBTNY Artistic Director Shannon O’Neill:  spo at ucbcomedy dot com. Please use the Subject:  NBCU/UCBT Scholarship_your name 

PLEASE NOTE: This is not the UCB NY Training Center Diversity Scholarship. For information on that go to - https://newyork.ucbtrainingcenter.com/diversity

We look forward to your submissions!