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.

4A's and Upright Citizens Brigade Partner to Expand Workshop Offerings to 4A's Members

We just announced a partnership with the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) to bring UCB workshops to Madison Avenue.

Here's our press release:

NEW YORK, Jan. 16, 2018 PRNewswire -- Today, the 4A's and the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) announced a partnership designed to expand and diversify the 4A's workshop offerings to agency members. 

The 4A's will offer its agency members access to a new portfolio of workshops developed and led by UCB, the improv comedy organization founded by Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh. The 4A's is UCB's first advertising industry partner.

The workshops will help agency teams engage in faster, more effective brainstorming and, more broadly, help agency professionals get more comfortable thinking on their feet.

New workshop topics include:

"UCB has intimate knowledge of the creative process. The training and workshops they've designed will help our members with the agility they need today," said Margie Parker-Lamparillo, executive vice president of Learning & Development and Partnerships at the 4A's. "We'll continue to partner with groups whose roots are in creativity and creative expression as we continue to elevate our member offerings in L&D."

"We are thrilled to be working with the 4A's," said Deidre Sullivan, director of brand strategy at UCB. "There are many parallels between the worlds of comedy and advertising, particularly around the creative process and having to be responsive to an audience."

4A's members can learn more about these and other workshop programs, available now, here.

About the 4A's
The 4A's, founded in 1917, is the leading authority representing the marketing communications agency business. It provides leadership, advocacy and training that empower agencies to innovate, evolve and grow. It serves 740 member agencies across 1,400 offices that control more than 85 percent of total U.S. advertising spend. The 4A's is committed to protecting the best interests of its members, their employees and the industry at large. Its benefits division insures more than 164,000 agency professionals, and the D.C. office advocates for policies that best support a thriving advertising industry. With its best-in-class learning and career development programs, the 4A's and its foundation fuel a robust diversity pipeline of talent for its members and the marketing and media industry, fostering the next generation of leaders. For more information, please visit www.aaaa.org.

About Upright Citizens Brigade
The Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) is the comedy powerhouse founded by Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh. Dubbed "the most influential name in improv today" by The New York Times, UCB runs two theaters in New York and two in LA, where audiences enjoy improv and sketch comedy seven nights a week. UCB also operates the only accredited sketch and improv training school in the country, with classroom facilities on both coasts; UCB alumni and instructors include performers and writers for Saturday Night LiveThe Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Key & Peele, VeepSilicon Valley, The Hangover21 Jump Street and more. In addition to classes and live comedy performances, UCB works with brands, ad agencies, media companies and universities; the company also runs a branded content unit/TV production studio, a touring company that performs at theatres and colleges, and a slew of industry-standard improv workshops for corporate training and team building. For more information go to www.ucbindustries.com.