Bringing improv into one to one coaching


cubicleOne minute you are sitting in your cube, checking your email. The next you hear a knock and all of sudden you are on a theater stage with a spot light glaring in your eyes and expected to perform. Now you wish you had taken at least one art or theater class in high school! This is what some clients might feel when you bring up improv games in a one on one coaching session. What I learned from the AIN conference session by Drew Tarvin was that there are the four main things to watch for:


It's easier to be part of or hide in a group. The experience of a one-on-one session is much more intimate and you need a higher level of trust for the client to be comfortable performing when all eyes (yours) are on them.  Take the time to build trust and always be prepared to keep the trust equal by playing along and contributing in the games as much as the client.


The way you approach building trust and what games you play will depend on if you have a single session or multiple sessions. Keeping games simple, light, and introducing the concept of celebrating risk or failure will help right off the bat. Taking the time to let trust build and not pushing too hard will pay off every time.


As the coach you have to operate on two levels - the improviser and the facilitator. You need to develop your split brain and maintain observation without interrupting your game. When it does happen, it's a great time to own that and model the celebration of taking risks.


Regardless of the exercise or coaching, be sure to clearly define the goals and understand how the activity is moving toward the goal. Many games are fun to play, and sometimes that is a goal for unblocking or building trust. Games can be used in different ways, make sure you know what you are trying to achieve.

What do you think?

Leave your thoughts in a comment below: