How Improv Techniques Can Be Powerful in the Workplace


The IPWS Leadership Summit powered by IE Business School will be a varied program with some inspirational stories on the topic of ‘Understanding Power & Leadership: A Roadmap to Success’ and throughout the afternoon, you’ll get to experience some practical techniques that can help you in your work, in the office, and on your leadership path in your career. 

Introducing,  Elva Yao, Managing Director of Zmack, who has been studying, coaching, and performing improvisational theater for over 5 years. Using her Zmack ‘Seven principles’ of improvisation, Elva will give you some practical tips to grab positive power with your leadership goals.

What is Improv?

Have you seen Whose Line Is It Anyway? TV Show? Maybe you know Tina Fey & Amy Poehler from their TV and films? Improv is improvisation, and is the form of theatre, often comedy, in which most or all of what is performed is unplanned or unscripted: created spontaneously by the performers. In its purest form, the dialogue, action, story, and characters are created collaboratively by the players as the improvisation unfolds in present time, without use of an already prepared, written script.

But did you know, Improv Techniques can help you in your day to day life especially the workplace AND has always had strong connections in women’s communities all across the world. One particular woman is known as the ‘grandmother of improvisation’ and you can read more about her story and it was another strong leader (also a woman called Charna Halpern) who created the modern Improv techniques that launched careers of Tina Fey and many more.

What is Zmack Improv?

Elva uses these techniques to create fan-favorite entertaining shows with her Chinese team ZHiMaKong and her English team SPEAK Up! Elva is also the creator of  the Chinese language improv curriculum for the Zmack Improv Training Center, where people from across Shanghai study the art of improv.  Elva is also highly sought after for her bilingual Applied Improvisation coaching, training, and facilitation through ZmackWorks Consulting. Elva has traveled the world sharing improv, including Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok, Oshkosh and Chicago.  Elva can also be seen regularly in theatrical productions such as 2015’s HAMLET, and performs stand-up comedy and storytelling in both English and Chinese.

ZMACK IMPROV THEATER COMPANY has been sharing the joy and laughter of improvisation for over 8 years!  Due to the international nature of Shanghai, the Zmackers have developed a unique style of ‘cross cultural’ improvisation, breaking down cultural, generational and gender barriers onstage to find the truth in comedy that everyone can relate to.  Zmack follows Seven Improv Principles – ACTIVE AGREEMENT, TRUST, CHIVALRY AND SUPPORT, ACTIVE LISTENING, PRESENCE, AUTHENTICITY, and COMMITMENT – these are the master tools that allow us to create amazing scenes, comedy and music on stage.  Zmack currently maintains 5 regularly performing improv teams in English and Chinese, each with a different style, plus new shows emerging regularly – so most every week you can catch a Zmack show!

Improv enthusiasts and hobbyists can study the performance art of improvisation in the ZMACK IMPROV TRAINING CENTER, with 8 intensive classes covering 4 levels from beginner to professional – and Zmack ITC is the ONLY organization offering these courses in FOUR languages – English, Chinese, French and Spanish!  Zmack ITC offers special ‘taster’ improv workshops, and hosts amazing improv pros from across the world!

The power of improvisation goes beyond the stage, and ZmackWorks Consulting is China’s ONLY recognized Applied Improvisaton Training, Facilitation, and Coaching organization.   Clients such as Bayer, Louis Vuitton, Volvo, Decathlon, Microsoft, and Kaixin Mahua seek ZmackWorks’ unique blend of Applied Improvisation techniques and traditional facilitation skills for Presentation Skills, Teambuilding, Innovation and Creativity, Executive Leadership, and Communications skills training. ZmackWorks also uses the philosophy of Applied Improvisation in one-on-one Executive and Life Coaching.

Zmack Improv Theater Company is recognized around the world as a leader in Improvisational Theater, with performances in cities in and around China and Asia, and regular tours and partnerships with US based improv theater companies, including the iO Theater, the Annoyance Theater, the Second City, and the Improv department of Stanford University.

ZMACK – Life is better when improvised!

IPWS is delighted to work with Elva from Zmack who will be our co-host for the Leadership Summit program… and we look forward to saying ‘Yes, and…’ and giving some power over to you!

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