Wait by Frank Partnoy and why we listen in improv

I really want to read this book about the science of how timing influences decision making. Sound familiar? He says most of us react too quickly. Our instincts can be lifesavers but so tricky when it comes to improv. There was a line from this book review in Bloomberg news magazine that said, “Though evolution has hard-wired us to react fast, the best performers are those who buy extra time to gather and process information.” (article by James Pressley from Bloomberg Markets October 2012 issue)

This is something that is always challenging to explain to people who are new to improv or just starting to perform and figure it out. I feel like I’m still struggling to figure it out and get better at it. Let me attempt ot explain this concept in a clear way. We say there is little thinking in improv or that you need to ‘get out of your head’ when you’re performing. This doesn’t mean you stumble around saying every thought that runs through your mind. Pay attention to the processing aspect of the above quote. We focus so much on listening, because when you truly listen to someone you get a better chance to deeply process the tone, meaning, and feeling behind every word. Listening > processing > naturally reacting. You don’t have to rack your brain thinking- listen and let your instincts lead you. Your brain will do the thinking and when you’re relaxed and tuned in those great ideas will flow without much effort. Pushing the ideas or planning them won’t work and you’ll miss some important stuff.

I’m hoping this makes sense. If not come talk to me and I’ll try to explain better in person. If noting else, take this as a cool book recommendation 🙂




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