How stress-busting makes you a better communicator

Act Your Research workshop series uses improvisation to tackle performance anxiety

Dennis Cahill from Loose Moose Theatre facilitates improvisational training to help academics hone presentation and communication skills. Photos by Michael Do, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning

By Mike Thorn, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning

Presenting to a group can be an anxiety-inducing experience, and even one-on-one communication can be difficult, but both are fundamental aspects of post-secondary education. Can these skills be honed and developed?

Collaborating with Loose Moose Theatre and the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, Dr. Jeff Dunn, PhD, from the Cumming School of Medicine addresses this question with the five-part workshop series called Act Your Research: Improve Your Communication Skills with Training in Improvisation. The workshop’s hour-long sessions incorporate training in interactive improvisation techniques to tackle obstacles such as performance anxiety and performer-audience connection.

The Loose Moose Theatre’s ambassador Dennis Cahill has earned an international reputation for developing the theatrical style of improvisation. For Act Your Research, Cahill instructed acting exercises and provided the theory behind those exercises in relation to developing communication skills. Dunn drew upon the exercises and theory to make more specific connections to the academic world. 

Read the full article in UToday.