Tag Archives: presentation skills

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

What do Google analytics and a stand-up comedy skills workshop have in common?

While helping a business client increase traffic to their website, I remarked how their Google Analytics marketing reports weren’t so different from taking a stand up comedy skills workshop.

That might sound like an odd thing to say – but the more I thought about it the more the comparison holds up.

Google Analytics reports feedback what’s happening on a website, what people are looking at and responding to. How long they stay engaged, and if they connect…becoming a customer or a fan. You can even see it in real time.

For that particular website, we added some recent case studies and removed technical jargon. By doing that we changed the language – the website’s voice – and added relatable stories (short case study videos) to draw people in and acquire new customers.

I used this metaphor again this week quite fittingly, at my first workshop at the Google Digital Garage in Manchester. They were really supportive in providing me with a space to lead my all elbows ‘Present Yourself!‘ comedy workshop, which mixes stand up comedy with presentation skills, team games, improv, public speaking tips and interpersonal skills all rolled together.

It covers the same ground as analytics, but with less artificial intelligence. It’s for humans instead of websites. It’s all about understanding your audience. How to stay engaged and avoid attention span ‘bounce rate’, and the language we use tell stories and connect with others. Again, all in real time. I guess you might call it the discussion points we have as  ‘human analytics’.

Human Analytics (in front of an audience) :

  • Audience. Make eye contact with them, this will give you all the data you’ll need.
  • Behaviour. Be aware of your body language, relax and be comfortable.
  • Engagement. If what you’re saying isn’t working experiment off script with a different approach  -this is where the scary fun learning happens.
  • Acquisition. Don’t try too hard to be funny. Just be yourself. Let your audience, or customers, come to you.

The feedback since I started running these sessions in 2015 has been great. Together with the help of the  Business Growth Hub  it’s evident that business leaders across the North West are really keen to integrate this kind of skills workshop into their own team training programmes.

Contact Rocket Steps to discuss how this training can help your business.

Call:  or
Email: info@rocketsteps.co.uk