In this Tedx Talk, improv instructor Jennifer Hunter and members of her ensemble demonstrate five fundamentals of improvisation, and she insists these skills are useful in creating a better, more enjoyable life as well. The parameters of improv provide structure for performers and serve as a guide as they otherwise explore storylines and characters freely. Hunter defines improv as “performing without preparation. It’s responding in the moment to the stimulus of our immediate environment and our inner feelings.” It requires being spontaneous and making things up as you go along. It’s a collaboration with an emphasis on ideas that are introduced one at a time by members of the group. Here are the five guidelines she discusses.

1. Make a connection

Hunter emphasizes the importance of each member of the ensemble getting on the same page while performing. For example, if one person brings up the topic of slaying a dragon, then the ensemble finds a way to fit into this fictitious world. In this way, improv is very different from stand-up comedy because everyone’s ideas are utilized, and working as a unit is more important than being funny.

2. Listen

Sometimes in daily life, people only half-listen to others because they are thinking about how they’re going to respond. Improv, on the other hand, is a discipline that demands attentive listening from beginning to end. Performers must acutely focus on a speaker and keenly observe the actions of others. Think of what life would be like if we were all such acute listeners on a daily basis.

3. Say, “Yes, and …”

When a performer tosses an idea your way, rather than resisting it, go along with the flow. “It keeps things positive, it keeps us generating new ideas, and it opens up new opportunities,” Hunter says. A series of yeses to others’ ideas progresses the storyline, the fun, and the whimsical spirit of improv. Noes, on the other hand, tend to halt the fun. Beyond saying “yes,” make sure to add something to the storyline–that’s the beauty of “and …” This gives you opportunities to be creative and gives the ensemble something new with which to work.

4. Be in the moment and be flexible

According to Hunter, “There are no bad ideas in improv.” Everything is game! If a performer misinterprets another’s words or actions, go with the new idea as opposed to getting back on track with the original intention. While there can be exceptions to this guideline, it’s encouraged because it maintains the spirit of play. Play is a skill that often gets lost in the shuffle of adulthood with all that life demands. Think back to childhood and how play happens in the moment–and then be there. Relax and allow yourself to have fun. And don’t feel pressure to be funny.

5. Follow your intuition

Hunter says, “In our daily lives, we often ignore our impulse to contribute to group discussions because we don’t think that our ideas are good enough or smart enough. But they are good enough, they are smart enough, and doggonit, people are going to like them!” That being said, it’s okay if your inner voice lets you down in some way. But don’t allow yourself to be swallowed up by self-doubt; improv is play after all. Indeed, a misstep is simply an opportunity to keep going, better informed. And with improv, you always get more chances.

Hunter asserts, “We’re all improvisers. We all have to improvise every day.” So, she believes these five skills are helpful when working with others and for living a quality life in general. And in fact, many people who attend improv classes have no intention of becoming comedians. Some participants seek to apply what they learn in class to their jobs, or they want to liven up their interactions with others in their personal lives. And many people say the playful classes are a great way to meet new friends.

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