Improv for Scientists – workshop series
Improvisational comedy, while seemingly a medium for entertainment, has elements that can improve the practice of science. In improv, you learn to be spontaneous, to embrace failure, to effectively tell stories, to be a better listener and to learn how to read and respond to any audience. Because science is collaborative, the same elements that make a good improv scene can translate into better science communication. In this workshop series, we will introduce the fundamentals of improv through a series of guided group and partner exercises and directly link each fundamental element of improv to its application in the practice and communication of science.
Note: This workshop series is open to CRBLM graduate students and postdocs from all four universities. Advance registration is required (see below), and participants are encouraged to come to all 4 sessions.
When: Every Wednesday in June, from 4 to 6pm
Where: 2001 McGill-College, rooms as indicated below
1.) Mistakes are gifts – Learning to embrace failure (June 5 – room 735)
Many of us in academia are high-achievers, and this pursuit of excellence is often paired with a debilitating fear of failure. Fear of failure can prevent us from taking the risks of pursuing big ideas that could otherwise lead to great discovery. In improv, failure is inevitable and constant, and can sometimes lead to unexpected gifts in a scene. In this workshop, we will run towards failure in a series of improv exercises that will help you to embrace the magic that failure can bring, and teach us to accept our imperfect selves.
2.) Yes, and… – Effective listening and collaborating (June 12 – room 464)
One of the core tenets of improv is “Yes, and…”. It states that performer should accept what another participant has stated (the “yes”) and then expand on that line of thinking (the “and”). By accepting your partner’s ideas, you establish trust and mutual respect. In this workshop, we will participate in a series of improv exercises that will help build our listening and collaboration skills that can be applied to a range of scenarios.
3.) Tough crowd – Knowing and reacting to your audience (June 19 – room 464)
How many of us fall into the trap of using the same talk no matter who the audience and expect it to stick? This workshop is designed to help scientists know and connect with different types of audiences from general public, peers and professors to potential employers, policy makers, or family members. We will use improv exercises to help you hone your skills of listening to our audience’s reactions, and being able to react in the moment to connect with them and shape your message.
4.) Plot Twist – Using principles of storytelling to communicate science (June 26 – room 464)
Science is messy, full of plot twists and competing interpretations, as much as it is about any particular facts. Whenever you stand in front of an audience, be it at a conference, a lab meeting, or in a lecture, you are an important part of the story, and the way we talk about our work should reflect that truth. In this workshop, we will use the principles of narrative storytelling to communicate our research in an engaging way, with an emphasis on keeping it personal.
About the Workshop Facilitator:
Katie Pagnucco is a science educator by day, and improvisor by night. As a Biology instructor at John Abbott College, Katie stars in a 90-minute solo show four times a week, where she tries to inspire young minds to care about cellular respiration. Katie has been performing improv as a member of several teams at Montreal Improv since 2012. In addition to performing, Katie is also an improv teacher at the Montreal Improv Theater, and has had the opportunity to teach improv workshops in Toronto, Guelph, Ottawa, and Switzerland.