Tag Archives: improvisation

An Improv Workshop at MeasureCamp Manchester Unconference

I had a great time this weekend at the second MeasureCamp Manchester Unconference. Aimed at the digital and analytics community, it’s a whole day of unplanned talks and workshops. There’s no planned schedule and everyone attending has the opportunity to deliver a talk or workshop.

How does that work? After an introductory talk there’s a big blank schedule of events board – waiting to be filled.

Those keen to give a talk complete a description card and stick it the board. As this event proved, very quickly there was a diverse and interesting amount of talks to attend across the day.

I’ve attended similar formatted events in the USA, at the annual ComedySportz improv championship. During a week of workshops and entertainment) there’s an ‘open space’ which is very similar in format. The idea of a full day of this locally piqued my curiosity.

It was easy to understand the ethos of the event, and MeasureCamp Manchester was well organised. It’s not only for those keen to get up and talk, but also to encourage those who’ve never given a talk. It’s an opportunity to to seize the chance to give their first ever bit of public speaking, workshop or discussion.

As I found out, a group of data analytics techy folks set up MeasureCamp in 2012. They  wanted to run a local community event and it took off. MeasureCamps are now held in over a dozen cities, all over Europe plus Hong Kong and Australia.

I think the ‘unconference’ format is a brilliant concept too. A speaking event with no traditional hierarchy or barrier to entry, providing encouragement to anyone who has an idea they are passionate about.  The presentations do not need to be polished, there’s no guarantee of full audience. Attendees will vote with their feet. However as this event proved, with this well curated day, the fear of ‘what if no one comes to my talk!’ doesn’t arise.

Improv for Creative Thinking

MeasureCamp is designed for the digital and analytics community though I thought it felt broader. There was much discussion here about modern work culture. I attended some great talks, including a discussion on freelancing and a talk on impostor syndrome. I also gave two talks on how improvisation skills is  used as a tool for creative thinking. A shortened version my Google Digital Garage in 2018 sessions, and they were well received.

Of course there’s a strong element of improvisation to the MeasureCamp Unconference format. When I deliver an improv workshop, I explain how improvisation is about being present and creative within set of constraints of a game.  One of the organiser, Paul  suggested I pinned my session on the board at the beginning of the day, which I did. Improv is great for learning, and it’s also a good motivator. By sticking my session at the beginning of the day it could provide a little confidence boost to anyone attending who had an idea for a but not yet committed to it.
It would have been an ideal place to promote my book,  but one of the stipulations is that there is no hard sell by speakers, and rightly so.

MeasureCamp Manchester was a fun learning experience and a great networking opportunity. I’ve even considered offering to volunteer for next year’s event (if I have the time and commitment it requires) I”ll certainly be getting in early for a ticket!

Useful Links

Improvising in Ireland at Improv Utopia

I had an amazing time this weekend  at Improv Utopia in Ireland.  Joining over 100 improvisers from all over the world for games, workshops and loads of fun.

An opportunity to meet an improvise with folk from the USA, Ireland and  other countries all in one place. I’ve been to plenty of improv conventions in America over the last ten with my comedysportz troupe,  and honestly didn’t know what to expect from this – but it was every bit as cool as I’d hoped.

 

We took over Newgrange Lodge just North of  Dublin with some expert teachers including Nick Armstrong, Katy Schutte, and Neil Curran as well as the lovely Craig and Carla Cackowski From L.A.

Watching improv people together in large groups is quite a thing to behold, and probably quite curious to the outside world.  We played ‘diamond dance’ outside in the blistering sunshine. It’s a game about dance moves, but also leadership…but really – dance moves!  I could see the staff of Newgrange Lodge watching us, clearly a little bewildered and  amused by what they were watching.

Each workshop covered a different discipline.  From group work to using emotion, character and selling yourself.  The weekend reaffirmed  my love for improv and how it’s a great tool for connecting and building relationships.  Improv Utopia has been running for many years in the US, but this is the first time they have organised a residential outside of the US – and it proved to be a great success.  Big thanks to all the guys who put it together, it felt like being in America without actually being in America.

Sell it! – workshop with Craig Cackowski

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About John Cooper

He’s performed in hundreds of theatres around the UK and internationally as part of the CSz Manchester improv troupe. He has delivered workshops on how to use humour  and improv in business, taking part in the BBC2 series ‘The Speaker’ and the BBC New Comedy Awards. John is author of Present Yourself! – An illustrated guide to speaking in public and building confidence.