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Principles of Improv Aid a Guest Speaker

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Jun 20, 2011 @ 07:20 AM

funny guest speakerI am proud to be the president of the Curiously Canadian Improv Guild.

Last weekend we had an amazing show which was taped live by Shaw TV. I laughed like crazy when I watched the performers on stage and was reminded how powerful and engaging improv is to hold an audience.

Improv is made up right before your eyes. Peels of laughter result as you marvel at how improv unfolds into incredible comedy. It is not a rehearsed motivational speech but more like a unpremediated dialogue between guest speaker and the audience.

Some of the funniest guest speakers play with spontaneous humor that evolves around the audience. Ad-lib elements should be a part of every motivational speaker's routine to avoid sounding rehearsed and canned.  Improv is a learn-by-doing way to engage and inspire an audience.

Below are just a few of the many ways the elements of improv aid a Motivational Speaker:

  • Humorous interaction with an audience makes sure that the speech evolves around the audience, not your rehearsed content. Successful improv is about listening and accepting others' ideas, thinking on your feet and responding organically to others. This is also necessary for a motivational speaker to make his content relevent.
  • Improv is about commitment. Improv flops when you are not  committed to your idea. The audience can sense a lack of commitment and the performance has a ho-hum response. Exceptional improvisers accept their first idea and its the commitment to the idea that builds excitement and humor. Second guessing yourself hurts the improviser just as self doubt dilutes a motivational speaker's impact.
  • Improv is about listening and being in the moment. Instead of scheming about what to say next, clever improv listens to what is going on and advances ideas to evolve the scene.


  • Brilliant improv is specific. Great improvisers take their first idea, commit to it, and build specific details around it. The detail compels the scene forward and creates fabulous comedy. In a similar way, a motivational speaker will come across as generic and distant to the audience if he leaves out details that engage all the senses, details that help the crowd feel a part of their story.

Through improv, people learn team building skills like:  Listening skills, risk taking, how to fail and still survive, stress relief, collaboration and cooperation, creativity and innovation. These are all great things for a buisness motivational speaker to inspire an audience.

More team building and funny motivational speaker resources can be found here.

Tags: motivational speaker, improv, team building

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