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Improvise This!: How to Think on Your Feet so You Don't Fall on Your Face Hardcover – March 13, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Look into your own private personality mirror and see a grin instead of a grimace." "Eat a completely different lunch at a brand-new restaurant. Just because." "Discover the name(s) of your own personal theme song(s)." Trite suggestions like these abound in this book written by partners of a sketch comedy/improvisation company that offers workshops to help business people loosen up. True to form, the authors don't call the sessions in their book "workshops"; rather, they prefer to call them "playshops." Their approach results in a volume that is lively, yet fails to make a real connection between improvisation and work. The authors contend that "businesses are sending their top managers and frontline staff alike to improv classes in droves," yet they fail to offer any concrete business cases that explain why. Other than mentioning that Southwest Airlines flight attendants use humor to get passengers to listen to flight instructions (an example now tragically outdated in the post-September 11 environment), there are few examples of how improvisation has led to product development, employee retention or increased profitability. What the authors do contend, however, is that loosening up in the workplace could have an indirect affect on these components, in that fun equals happy employees equals more success. A better choice for those interested in "out of the box" thinking in the workplace is Guy Kawasaki's Rules for Revolutionaries or The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from Ideo, America's Leading Design Firm by Tom Kelley et al. Agent, Laurie Liss.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Mark Bergren, Molly Cox, and Jim Detmar are partners in Out of the Blue, an enormously successful corporate workshop, sketch comedy, and improv company. They teach and perform nationally for companies and associations such as 3M, Kaiser Permanente, Rainforest CafT, State Farm Insurance, and the Paris Las Vegas Resort. They are based in Minneapolis and Los Angeles.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1 edition (March 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786867744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786867745
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,916,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I talk and act for a living (yep, I'm in a sort-of sales position), so I wasn't as excited about this book after reading it as I thought I'd be. Some good exercises that are included just didn't strike me as too much different that a day working with a people with varying knowledge, maturity, and educational levels.
Maybe I got [pulled] into the idea that (1) I like improv comedy, and (2) I'm always interested in some self-improvement. But I get to laugh and learn everyday just by showing up at the office at 8:00 a.m.
If you are in a serious, stuffy workplace that could use some fun and constructive play, this book might be more enjoyable than it was for me.
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Format: Hardcover
In a world where the corporate climate is becoming more and more concerned about don'ts, than dos, more worried about what can't be said, than what can, this delightful book is the perfect reminder of the power of play. I love the messege. Let's get out of our heads and have some fun. Then let's see how that fun effects our work product.
The authors give us inspiring examples of humor in the workplace, and a series of excerises to loosen up even the most button downed office. They manage to give sound advice while keeping tongues firmly in cheek. I found it an easy read, perfect for the airplane.
This is a great beginner's book for Improv in the workplace. Now,I would love to see a more in-depth work from this joyful team. Improvise This! has whet my appetite.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK, for starters, I'm a true fan of improvisation. I love doing it, watching it, studying it, and doing it s'more. This is a book I love because it took Improv out of the dark clubs, acting class and the workshop and brought it to the workplace! I always recommend it telling folks; "no matter what field you choose, Improvisation will help you" This book is a great place to start.
Megon McDonough
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Format: Hardcover
As a public speaker and trainer, no matter how well prepared I am for an engagement, I encounter situations, audiences and questions that can catch me off guard. This book offers concrete tools, suggestions and examples of how to handle these types of situations using various improvisational techniques.
It is also a witty, fun and playful reminder to trust our instincts and tap into the natural creativity that we are born with. A definite must have on your book shelf!
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Format: Hardcover
This book is unusual in that it takes something almost intangible and makes is accessible and realistic--and it's funny! The exercises are explicit, step-by-step guides for beginners and pros, which is something you don't find in other books of this genre. This is a great tool and an entertaining read.
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Format: Hardcover
Today's business works at a faster pace than ever--opportunities open and close quickly, and may be lost if one isn't prepared to react to them. In addition, today's workers expect a more collaborative workplace than ever. The techniques adapted from improv theatre are a great match for the intersection of these two phenomena, and many organizations are taking advantage of those techniques when offering their employees professional development opportunities.

Successful business people are adapt to the constant changes in their work environments, taking advantage of new opportunities and letting go of those that become stale. They enthusiastically engage the task of the moment, listen actively to others, trust both their own instincts and the sensibilities of their teammates, and build onto the ideas of others to create improved ideas...all elements required for successful improv theatre, as well. The authors are careful to detail ways in which these elements can be transferred to and applied in employee's work and personal lives.

Across eleven chapters, the authors provide detailed directions for 15 improv exercises adapted for business and life. Ten of those are designed for individuals (fairly rare in the training and development world). These include activities for breaking the inhibitions to risk-taking to innovative brainstorming approaches to having fun with telemarketers. (True, this last one seems to be unfair to the hapless telemarketer...but truly embodies spontaneity.) The group activities will develop skills in active listening, building on the ideas of teammates, and trusting your teammates. Other activities written into the narrative round out the ideas you can take, use, and adapt for yourself.
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