As part of the whole Techstars experience we get access to acting coaches who are on hand to help the CEOs give their pitches. I’ve been tagging along to these as the lessons learned will be useful for the various bits of public speaking I do.
Today we did a warmup session that involved some improv. There were 5 people in the group, with the other 4 being CEOs. We initially sat in a circle and took it in turns to tell a collaborative story, which each person continuing from the last. The story needed to include a person, object and place.
The story, such that it was, centred around a woman called Willow, who was in a boat on a river in Cochabamba, Bolivia, making notes in her moleskin notebook about the local wildlife [the person, place and object]. Suddenly, the notebook was snatched out of her hands by an alligator and promptly eaten. Kit, who may, or may not have been Willow’s lover, but who certainly had romantic designs on her, then dove into the river, dispatched the alligator and wrestled it onto the boat. However, before they could retrieve the notebook a local drug cartel hove into view. The leader is Willow’s evil stepfather, and he was there to bring her home after she ran away. Before they catch up with Willow’s boat, however, Queen Ophelia and her tribe come to the rescue, dispatching the drug lord, and allowing Willow and Kit and the driver of the boat to escape. On their journey to Queen Ophelia’s village the group are set upon by monkeys, but scare them off with the carcass of the alligator, which they still have. Once they make it to the village they butcher and eat the alligator and retrieve the notebook. In the back of the notebook is a map showing the village they’re in, with the outcome of the tale being they were destined to go there all along.
With our story, such that it was, in hand we then turned it into a 3 minute bit of improv. This was then cut down to a 2 minute piece, a 1 minute piece, and finally a hectic 30 second skit. Each of these iterations was done with no time to converse or agree changes. It was, as you can probably imagine, quite silly. It was also huge fun and helped up realise that you can actually achieve quite a lot when under pressure if you just react rather than agonising over what you’re going to say.
Incidentally, we hold the copyright the above tale so you’ll need to come and speak to the 5 of us if you want to buy the movie rights from us 😉