Many people come to improv classes to improve their communication skills. Communicating is one of those elusive skills we work on the entirety of our careers and ultimately our lives. Whether our motivation is wanting to become better public speakers, quicker on our feet, more creative in our responses, and more direct in our intention – we all want to express ourselves better. Yet, in focusing so heavily on what we say, we easily overlook the power in how we say it.
In 1967, Dr. Mehrabian did a study on how the mind configures meaning and found that the formula for interpreting a message is seven percent verbal, thirty eight percent vocal and fifty five percent visual. Yes, that means most of how we communicate is not with our words. The fact that we convey so much meaning with our bodies is easily overlooked. Yet, when having a conversation with someone who stares at us blankly, asks questions monotonously, and never makes a gesture, we’re quickly reminded that true connection and true conveyance of our message is in the body. Improv is king when it comes to communication courses because it’s grounded in movement, meaning that improv exercises not only strengthen what we say, but actively increase our awareness of what we are doing when we say it.
Whether we’re playing “What Are You Doing?,” Translator or simply scene building, improv challenges us to bring words to life – and with no props, no scripts, no scenery and no judgment — we do that in the most organic way possible – with our selves. So next time you are talking to someone or preparing for a speech don’t just practice your talking points, but take a moment to look at how you move.
Consider the following:
(Tone) How are you saying it?
– Are you irritated? Excited? Uncertain? Anxious? (Facial Expressions) How we look when we say it:
– How’s your eye contact? Is your mouth open? Are your eyebrows furrowed?
(Gestures) How’s your body?
– What are your hands doing?
– Are you leaning? Swaying? Standing completely still?
– Is your head tilted? Is your chin down? Are your toes curled?
As Amy Cuddy proclaimed in her famous TED Talk, our body language not only shapes others perception of us, but it also shapes how we see ourselves. And that fits in perfectly with the second most important rule of improv (after YES AND of course) – no matter what happens, just keep moving.
I am thrilled to announce that The Engaging Educator has a little sibling, The Engaging Educator Foundation! Born March 17, 2016 in Winston-Salem, NC, and ready to Yes, And a whole new world.
When I started The Engaging Educator, it was meant to be a nod to my solo-career and the improv and presentation skills workshops I was planning to lead for museums. That (very) quickly expanded, and I found myself needing a we, and we found ourselves getting high-profile clients as well as museums and schools.
Because I follow the YES, AND mentality in life, I kept looking for ways to keep our workshops affordable for our original clients. Finally, the option to create a hybrid organization presented itself in my move to Winston-Salem. Under the Foundation, we’re working with our original intended client base, while still providing high-end consulting and customized workshops to our corporate clients through The Engaging Educator. We’re still US, just with more open doors for grants, collaboration and possibilities.
If you are a museum, school, organization or individual that would like more information about these workshops, donations, or information on the Foundation, please email us. Keep an eye on our FOUNDATION PAGE for updates!
Thank you all so much for your support, and we’re oh so excited for this next adventure in Yes, And!
EE has brought on a WEST COAST Engager! Meet Hillary Murrell!
–What is your role at The Engaging Educator? I have just joined the team as a facilitator and Engager!
–Where are you from and how did you make it to your current location? I am originally from San Diego. I went to college at UCLA and graduate school in London and have been in San Francisco for the last six years. I spent one summer teaching in New York in college and absolutely loved it! However, I am excited to be representing The Engaging Educator on the west coast when I move back to Los Angeles next week.
–When did you first start to love Improv? I took my first Improv class in middle school. I was very shy growing up but when I was on the stage doing improv I felt fearless. That feeling has stayed with me and now I love speaking in front of people more than anything else.
–What is something you want to Improv(e) on? I want to Improv(e) on enjoying to relax. I like to be active all the time and want to start enjoying the pleasure of doing nothing.
–Where is your favorite place in the city? The summer I spent in NYC my favorite place was Bryant Park with a turkey sandwich from Cosi. My favorite place in Los Angeles is the Ray’s and Stark Bar at LACMA.
–What’s a not-so-secret skill you have? A not-so-secret skill I have is that I am a pretty good tap dancer.
“AaahhhOOOgah” makes me feel silly and free.
“Yes, and” to reading, coffee, long walks and my puppy.
Meet our newest NYC Team Member: The fantastically monikered Olive Persimmon!
– What do is your role at The Engaging Educator? I am a facilitator, engager, and most importantly someone tying to empower people to find their voices.
-Where are you from and how did you make it to NYC? I’m from the great state of Ohio (the heart of it all!). I wanted to be around talented people who were creating things, so I knew NYC was the right place for me. I loved the chaos and the energy.
-When did you first start to love Improv? I’ve been doing public speaking for ten years. It’s my hobby and passion. I got in to improv to improve my impromptu speaking ability and fell in love because…well…it’s super fun.
-What is something you want to Improv(e) on? My cooking skills are atrocious. Truly,I can barely make eggs.
-Where is your favorite place in the city? I’m in love with the Met. I never had an interest in art until I went on a Museum Hack tour. It totally changed my perspective. Now I can give a decent tour of the Met myself.
-What’s a not-so-secret skill you have? I love creating things with words (speeches, books,etc). Recently though I’ve been really in to spoken word poetry.
The teens focused on the TEACHING aspect of improv this session, versus the whole package. Teaching improv isn’t easy, especially when you are teaching people who don’t want to be actors. Our teens pushed through their own challenges as well as the challenge of working with friends. The teens are looking at walls while speaking, because we’re working on their personal teaching style. All of them rocked the weekend, and we’re so excited for our January and February workshops!
Jen note: Since the conception of this program, it’s been a learning experience for me and the team. We’ve realized our way of leading reflections IS really special, and hard to teach. It’s something the teens will be working on in the next few months, and a focus of our program – but it’s definitely what makes EE and our teachers special! Excited for 2016, and the growth and expansion of this program to NC!
Our awesome design guru Shoshana Torn has created our new program logo! Soon to be on t-shirts galore!
What is your role at The Engaging Educator? I am a Teen Camp Educator and also part of the Teen Facilitator Program.
Where are you from and how did you make it to NYC? I was born and raised in NYC.
When did you first start to love Improv? In the 6th grade when I took a 10 week course at my school.
What is something you want to Improv(e) on? I’m a really bad procrastinator so time management takes top priority on my list of things to get better with. I haven’t started yet, but I’ll do it eventually.
Where is your favorite place in the city? I love going to Union Square with my friends.
What’s a not-so-secret skill you have? Sometimes I sing a song from a musical that’s relevant to the situation I’m in. My friends consider this more of an annoyance than a skill.
“AaahhhOOOgah” makes me feel nostalgic and excited.
“Yes, and” to Netflix, books, whipped cream, hot chocolate, campfires, comfy sweaters, hugs, music, and pressing the stop button on the microwave right before it beeps