To Improv or Not to Improv, That is THE Question

improv header imageA few weeks ago I wrote about being in a funk where New Tech business and events are doing very well, we’re helping thousands of people, we’re having fun, but we’re ready to go to another level.

This led me to explore adding events in additional cities and creating a conference with a friend. Expanding to more cities looked like more work than opportunity. The conference looked like a way to make great money, but the topic isn’t one that I’m passionate about.

A lesson I learned long ago was that the rough times will come in any life and in any business. The best safeguard against low points in business is to do what you love. I would (and did) run New Tech events without a living wage; I would not choose to run a conference on a topic I don’t love for the sake of doing it.

On the other hand, I’ve been wanting to sharpen my emcee skills since it’s a three times a month gig. Years ago I took improv (only one ‘e’ away from ‘improve’) classes and LOVED it. The friends I have that have done improv, like our Presentation Coach Omar Rivas and the CEO/Founder of Xero Shoes Steven Sashen, are at the top of the list for my favorite people to spend any amount of time with.

Improv people are fun, find the humor in tragic moments, and generally create happiness most of the time they are awake. Who would you rather hang out with?

After looking at taking improv classes and talking about it for a few weeks, my lovely wife Kat, New Tech’s marketing brain and social media voice, read an article in The Atlantic about using improvisational theater techniques to help business professionals gain public speaking confidence and skills. What’s not to love about that?

She brought this idea to me, “Hey! What if New Tech offered a creative method to help startup founders and business people get more comfortable presenting to groups of people?” We talked about how hard it is to suddenly find yourself presenting to an audience of people when you’re not used to speaking publicly, are an introvert, or both. But a lot of tech company leaders and startup founders find themselves immersed in pitching and presenting their ideas and plans to multiple people.

Improv offers a unique approach. It’s not about perfecting your speech. It’s about capturing your own, personal communication style, harnessing it and setting it loose on your audience.

And then shortly after setting up the Meetup page for New Tech Improv Andrea Murphy, Community Engagement Manger from, emailed me saying, “This is the kind of Meetup that can truly change a person’s life. I enrolled my daughter in an Improv workshop in middle school and her confidence level in public speaking and being able to present information and speak off the cuff improved dramatically. It was incredible to watch, and has helped her so much in school. She had to write, workshop and then perform her own routine. It was amazing. ”

That’s why rather than taking improv classes by myself, I’m going to take them with you – our New Tech community. We’re very fortunate to be partnering with Andrew McMasters at Improv Mindset who has trained business leaders and teams to use improv to their advantage at companies including Nike, Amgen, Premera, T-Mobile, Deloitte Consulting, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft.

On Wednesday, June 15th we’re launching New Tech Improv to share in active events doing fun training together. We’re going to laugh and grow together. I hope you can join us!

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