Improspectives

Improv skills lead to success

Informative Listening

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In my previous post, I mentioned John Kline’s book Listening Effectively and mentioned that he identified five different types of listening. The first type, informative listening, is probably the first type of listening that springs to mind.

As the name implies, the goal of informative listening is to learn new information. In an improv scene, the players engage in informative listening from the start of the scene or game. If they’re challenged to a game by the other team, the first information they get is the name of the game they’re going to play. Then they get the suggestion or suggestions from the audience (more informative listening) and then someone starts the scene. From that moment on, every player must listen intently to get what they need to build a coherent, enjoyable scene.

One great informative listening exercise is to watch a scene and then recite its major actions in reverse order. Movies on DVD are great for this type of exercise because you can go back and check how close you came to getting it right. The next level is watch a movie scene and relate each of the plot points to something from your personal experience, such as a trip, a friend you knew in school, or your first job out of school. Then, instead of retelling the scene as it occurred, retell it through the associations you built while you watched it.

Except through rote memorization, you can’t remember something unless you build up associations to something you knew previously. The more associations you can build, the more likely it is the information will stick with you.

Finally, don’t forget to listen to yourself. I’m sure you’ve said something unplanned that everyone else thought was brilliant; unfortunately, you couldn’t remember what you said! Video recording performances is the best way to recall your exact phrasing, but don’t be afraid to ask audience members, fellow performers, or co-workers what you said. Even if they can’t provide the exact wording, you’ll get an idea of what you said and add that statement to your toolkit.

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Written by curtisfrye

April 30, 2012 at 7:53 pm

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