Both of us studied with Paul Sills, the father of modern improvisation. (Paul’s mother, Viola Spolin, was the originator of theatre games-improvisation for the theatre)
In 2007, Alan Alda, after a much celebrated career as a stage, film and TV actor, began to teach communication at SUNY Stony Brook in NY. He wanted to have scientists be heard and better understood. His methods are unconventional. He uses the Spolin work he learned from Paul Sills – the skills that have made him an enormously talented actor. And what do actors do? They are master communicators.
Watch his methods in this following video:
Look for the “before” and “after” to see a significant change in the scientists.
These methods are excellent for us in business too, because the best business plan, the best management plan, the best marketing plan, the best sales pitch or presentation is only as good as its execution. Sometimes you prepare tirelessly, only to discover you are ultimately limited by what you’ve prepared yourself to do. And, every plan, sooner or later, is confronted by unanticipated events, situations, or problems.
Every plan, at some point, inevitably becomes an act of improvisation.
What do you do when the script runs out? How do you maintain composure and communicate clearly?
When you have the ability to be in the moment, ready for anything, able to “think on your feet,” and act in whatever way needed – you demonstrate great confidence and leadership.
This work taps into your intuition through a series of exercises that teach leaders how to confront uncertainty and to achieve greater flexibility while maintaining control. And not only that – it helps you communicate clearly and in a more direct manner.
More on Alan Alda’s work with teaching scientists to communicate: