Some Improvisation tips to Improve Communication (Workshop.)

Posted by & filed under Events.

After delivering my communication workshop on Friday to Ontario Colleges staff I thought I’d pass on some techniques on how to communicate better.

First off even though we communicate more than ever ( on more devices than ever) we often are not doing it mindfully.

We either say whatever is on our minds.

Or we worry about stepping on people’s toes. We often don’t know if we are being too sensitive or not sensitive enough! We are learning as fast as we can at home and at work.

Well when I worked at The Second City I learned that communication is a two way street. We learned how to say yes more than no. To build on ideas and put correction in when things went off course.

Plus we learned that having a sense of humour.

Here are few tips to help you become better at connecting with people.

Improvisation requires that you stay in The Moment.

Improvisation is about listening fully to your partner.

Not  planning everything you will say.

Simply accept what the person shares, with gratitude. Then respond spontaneously.

Be grateful to the person for communicating with you

In one exercise I teach we say thank you before we responded to whatever the person just said.

Thanking a person  for bringing the situation to your attention. Then you can explore the issue and make sure you understand the problem they are struggling with. Plus by thanking them you set the stage for an open dialogue back and forth.

Say  “yes and” not “yes but.”

Try it. Answering with “yes, but…” essentially shuts down the conversation or becomes competitive quickly

Saying “yes and…” means that you listened and you’re willing to explore the idea. It shows that you’re open to new way of thinking.

Improvisation means you don’t script what you are going to say!

While you’re busily thinking up the most appropriate and impressive response, the other person can see in your eyes that you’re thinking of something else.

It’s better to listen fully and let them finish.

It’s okay if a brilliant response doesn’t pop out of your mouth immediately because you already gained some major points but giving them your full attention while they were speaking.

If you’re not sure what to say next, simply thank them for sharing that thought and ask them to clarify what they’ve said to make sure you really understand.

Buy Yourself Time.Some problems are more complex than others. So buy yourself time. Acknowledge the need for action and then ask  people if you can take some time to think about what they are requesting. Give yourself 48 to 72 hours to think about it. Better ideas will come with some steeping time. Let person know exactly what you need the time for. (need to check this out with the manager.) Then tell them what time frame you need for an answer ( I will call you back in __hours with an answer to your question.)

Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep.

Responding rather than reacting we can dig ourselves a hole. Instead of promising big changes. Promise one you can deliver on. Pick a small thing. These small promises that actually are delivered add up to big changes.

Observe and Correct.

If you mess up and say something that isn’t received well. You can try again.

Observe it. Admit it and Correct it.

Above all keep your sense of humour!

You’re going to blow it sometimes. But acknowledging your humanity helps the other person do the same.  Writing a thank you for understanding note helps. Having a good laugh together helps.

The point is to build connections not to just “be right.”

Would your team like to learn how to communicate better ?

Contact me

My books and comedy CD’s are on sale here online


Nov 2nd,  Stouffville. Theatre on The 19th.

Nov 16th, Tamworth Legion FEW TICKETS LEFT.

( Mark Oliver has some as well: Email him at

Nov 22nd,  2019 Nursing Association: How to Communicate Better Workshop ( private)

Nov 22 Klusterfork 8 pm. Peterborough ( A Christmas Improv Show)

Nov 30th, 2019 10-2pom Beaches Memoir Writing Workshop. PM me.

Sign up for Wednesday Wit With Wisdom