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Sunday, August 11 • 9:40am - 12:00pm
AINx Talks - Continued

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A Faculty Perspective For Reaching Faculty Through Improv - Brian Zikmund-Fisher
Even though communication is a huge part of being a faculty member, getting busy faculty to think doing improv is worth their time is hard. What broke through for me was when another academic taught 'Yes, And' before a 2-day brainstorming retreat, saying explicitly 'Yes, And' works radical acceptance, and radical acceptance is essential to constructive brainstorming. Improv connects to my faculty identity through specific game-skill links, and I try to build such links whenever I use improv with academic audiences. My Michigan colleagues and I talk about this idea in terms of scaffolding: pre-exercise questions that focus academics’ attention on communication problems they already care about, paired with post-exercise reflections on how each specific improv exercise works specific skills that the audience sees as needed to solve those pre-existing problems. I’ll talk about 2 examples that we use constantly with academics: Half-Life Your Message (see our paper in Science Communication in 2018) and Instant Expert (from Brian Palermo’s chapter in the book Connection). Both my personal improv journey and our experience at Michigan suggests that this approach increases academic audiences’ receptivity to improv (which is often scary to them) and provides them with actionable takeaways for their future use.
  • AI For Speech, Language and Cognitive Challenges - Ruth Jenkins                                                                    There is a distinct need for treatments in the areas of speech, language, and cognition that can address multiple goals and still keep the clinicians’ students/clients/patients engaged during the practice phase of learning. Addressing these goals in the context of social participation is challenging and yet is crucial for carryover. In this presentation, attendees will be provided with direct/hands on instruction for
    specific activities which will address goals in the areas of auditory comprehension, verbal expression,
    articulation, and attention. They will be provided with written instructions for each activity so that they may easily reference them in their clinical or improv practices. The presenting clinician has successfully used these activities with children with articulation, language and attention deficits and for adults with aphasia, dysarthria, and cognitive changes, including those with Parkinson’s Disease. Evidence supporting the use of theatre-based treatment, found in several studies, will be included.
  • What Happens When an AI practioner Gets Cancer? - Izzy Gesell
    A cancer diagnosis affects patient, family,  friends and both personal and profsessional caregivers. When Izzy Gesell was diagnosed with prostate cancer he struggled to accept the offer until he realized the diagnosis WAS an offer. From then on, the question, “what’s the offer here” help him see that AI and humor could markedly improve the mental, physical, emotional & spiritual well-being of the patients, caregiver and professional staff.  This talk is a glimpse into the program Izzy delivers to survivor, caregiver and medical groups dealing with a wide range of diagnoses, not just cancer. The aim is to  help them use AI & humor to foster resilience and communication while making each day count.
  • The Unexpected Benefits Of Improv For Researchers - Viki Lazer and Amy Carroll
    When asked whether they are creative, most young scientists say no. When asked what skills are important for research, what appears? Creativity!
    In an environment that is extremely competitive and unpredictable, where reward and recognition are scarce, young scientists face a variety of obstacles. How can improv make the lives - and work - of researchers better? The practice of improv brings more to scientists than a creativity boost. In this talk we'll group the benefits of improv for researchers into three categories: mental health, research, and communication. Creating an inclusive community brings together researchers from different countries, cultures and disciplines. This sense of community can help researchers through tough times.
    And improv doesn't just make for happier researchers. It also makes for happier science. Improv has proven to be an excellent tool to train necessary skills for research, such as divergent thinking, mental flexibility, and collaboration.
    As Lee Iacocca said, "You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, they won't get you anywhere." Improv both directly and indirectly teaches researchers on how better to communicate their science with the world. Researchers practice storytelling, empathy, and metaphor-building: essential tools for efficient communication.
    At the science-entertainment collective The Catalyst, we believe in bringing improv to the scientific community in a permanent way, not just with a one-day workshop. Our founders have created an improv-for-researchers toolkit that can be used to build such communities around the world.
  • Rethinking Name Games-Jennifer Strouf                                                                                                                             Most group workshops begin with one of the “standard” name games that are worn out and have limited applications. This workshop reexamines how name games can be used to create genuine connections and plant the seeds of collaboration among participants. Attorney Jennifer Strouf created “Have you met my friend Ted?” to teach professionals how to create genuine connections with one another through thoughtful introductions.

    In addition to learning new name games, participants will explore how name games can be so much more than a mechanism for learning the names of the members of a group. Name games can identify points of commonality and create shared moment of laughter. The goal of this workshop is to teach individuals to use name games to learn names and create networks.

    These games are lawyer tested and lawyer approved; may be suitable for young children and people of all ages.


Jennifer Strouf

Jennifer Strouf is a practicing trial attorney and owns her own law firm, Strouf Law Firm P.A. (www.strouflaw.com). As an attorney and improviser, she created Improv4Lawyers P.A. (www.improv4lawyers.com), a legal consulting firm that offers trial coaching, bar tutoring, and continuing legal education courses all with an improv spin. Jennifer has written several articles and taught seminars about the use of applied improv in legal practice. She has presented to organizations including the Am... Read More →

Amy Carroll

Amy Carroll and Viki Lazar are science enthusiasts and members of The Catalyst, a science-entertainment collective based in Switzerland. Amy Carroll is a professional speaker, trainer, certified coach and writer. She applies her background in psychology, improvisational theater and... Read More →

Viki Lazar

Amy Carroll and Viki Lazar are science enthusiasts and members of The Catalyst, a science-entertainment collective based in Switzerland. Viki Lazar is a performer, teacher, and facilitator and has been passionate about improv and theatre for over 20 years. She brings her performance... Read More →

Ruth Jenkins

After receiving her Master's degree from Portland State University in 1995, Ruth completed her CFY in the public schools and has since been employed by the Providence Health System working in acute care, rehab, outpatient (both pediatric and adult), home health and Elderplace settings... Read More →

Izzy Gesell

Izzy Gesell has 25 years experience presenting as keynoter, facilitator, workshop leader. He earned the  Certified speaking Professional (CSP) designation from National Speakers Association, has given over 500 presentations, more than half of which were Applied Improvisation bas... Read More →

Brian Zikmund-Fisher

Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher is Associate Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Trained in decision psychology and behavioral economics, he designs communication methods to make health data such as risk estimates and test... Read More →

Sunday August 11, 2019 9:40am - 12:00pm EDT
The Wang Center - Theater