Improvisation (or improv) is a form of performance, which involves acting, talking, singing and reacting to others and your environment in the moment.

Improv is unique in that when you see a bunch of improvisers performing, it is the only time you will ever see that particular performance. That scene will never be seen again due to the unscripted nature of the art.

I have recently got into this most fascinating area, mainly through improvisational comedy. It has become one of my weekly highlights and I’ve made some good friends.

Through my experience of improvisation thus far, it is clear that one does not need to do improvisation to become an actor, although it could very well help you to if you want.

It is an art that will help you with life itself.

This point is so important; I’m going to say it again and bold it.

It is an art that will help you with life itself.

Let’s now explore some of the skills you learn through improvisation and how these can improve your life.

You learn to get out your head

When learning how to improvise, there are a number of activities you can do. You might get involved in developing a small scene with 2 or 3 others. It could involve playing a game where you create a short story by taking the last sentence said by someone, and then adding your own sentence, and then someone takes your sentence and adds to that.

When participating in such activities you do one key thing – you get outside of your own head.

You are listening to what others are saying, and this means you spend less time caught up in the past or worrying about the future.

The key life skill you are developing here is to live in the present moment. And as we know, living in the present is true living.

You learn that failure is ok

Practicing and developing in improvisation skills really will test your need to be ‘perfect.

It is a supreme example, of an art, which one really cannot get better at, without failing again and again and again and one more for luck… again!

You learn to speak up

Ever wanted to voice your opinion at work, college or a social gathering, but hesitated for fear of being judged?

Improvisation is a type of performance, where you will get plenty of opportunity to speak up. Your confidence in your ability to speak up in everyday situations will grow.

You learn conversation skills

“Yes and…” is a key skill taught in improvisation. This involves taking the opportunity another person gives you in the form of a sentence and adding and building on this by saying “Yes and…” whatever sentence comes out of your mouth.

‘Blocking’, where you take what someone else says to you and say “Yes but…” and change the direction of the conversation to another area, is usually discouraged in improvisation. This is because it doesn’t lend itself too well to continuing a scene. It doesn’t feel too good either.

By learning to build on what others present to you, you can also do the same in your everyday life and have great conversations with people. You will be able to build rapport effortlessly and others will love you for it!

It’s curtains…

So, as you can see, improvisation has a number of benefits, which don’t necessary relate to performing, in the acting sense.

It is a form of self-development, which you can use to increase your confidence in your life.

Your turn

  • How could you use improvisation as a way to improve your life?
  • Do you already do improvisation or another type of performance? How have your skills helped you in everyday situations?
  • Please share your valuable views and experiences in the comments box below.


Photo Credit: aleske