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Improvisation in Conversation

Dr. Stephanie Benjamin, RHTM faculty and the coordinator of the Tourism Reset Program at UT, facilitated a workshop with the Kiwanis Club in Cleveland,Tennessee. This event was a pilot partnership with UTK faculty/Extension where she was invited by Dr. Misty Anderson. The improvisational workshop involved Ag-extension and Kiwanis Club members.

She had club members deliberating issues, proposing new issues, debating about issues, agreeing and disagreeing, and also interfering in their partner’s discussion.

As a director of an improvisation group in Knoxville as well as often incorporating these kinds of settings in her classroom, Dr. Benjamin believes, “Improvisation is getting into someone’s head.”

Her techniques involve:
• Don’t plan what to say next;
• You don’t need to agree with the person’s opinion;
• Be grateful to the person for communicating with you;
• Don’t interrupt;
• Replace “Yes, but,” with “Yes, and”;
• Mirror what the other person said; and
• Don’t overthink it.

Dr. Benjamin is an advocate of improvisation exercises – “We can learn to be better innovators… When you improv, you let go.”

She defined improvisation is a topic of communication and teamwork. “With improvisation, you build confidence and prepare for the unexpected,” Benjamin added.

“Be in the moment.”