Episode 146

How Play Can Bring Your Storytelling to a ‘10’

I’m about to speak to a room full of CEOs. These CEOs know there’s a guest speaker, yet the topic has not been revealed.

Because I’ve been told that this group loves to be challenged and pushed outside their comfort zone, I come in and start my Talk with an unusual request. 

I have everyone stand up and form a big circle. Then I invite them, one at a time, to step into the middle of this circle and introduce themselves with their name and in the form of any character they wish. After which everyone in the room repeats that person’s name and character in unison.

This is an Improv game called Character Intro. To demonstrate, I start things off and it goes around the circle.

When the game circles back around to me, I say to everyone:

“Great work. That’s a level one or two. Let’s do it again, same character, but take it up to a five or six. What would that look like?”

So we do it again, each person taking their character up a few notches in whatever way that looks like for them. After the second round, I say:

“We’re getting warmer. Now I’d like to invite you to step into the middle of the circle at a 10.”

When this third round gets to the fourth person, he suddenly leaps into the air and somersaults forward into the circle as his character to cheers and laughter.

This whole exercise is meant to demonstrate that we, regardless of what we do, always have an opportunity to be at a 10. It’s up to you how you want to enter the room and communicate, which is something that my special guest, Maja Watkins, is an expert at helping others (especially kids) do.

In this episode of the Storytelling School Podcast, you’ll learn about how to apply Improv in situations where you can really use this skill on a deeper level and get answers to questions like:

How do storytelling games contribute to social and emotional learning? How can you adapt storytelling games and Improv exercises for a different audience? What story should adults be telling themselves about play? And what makes applied Improv so powerful?

What you will learn in this episode:

  • How Improv and playfulness can help kids on the autism spectrum with story
  • How to bring light to frustrating moments in your daily story
  • How Improv and making story connections can help form friendships

Who is Maja Watkins?

Maja is a mother, author, education consultant, and non-profit founder living in Los Angeles, California. She holds a degree in Child Development and is also a graduate of The Second City in Hollywood where she studied Improvisation and sketch comedy. Through her work with children in various settings, and her experience growing up with a brother on the autism spectrum, she has developed an understanding of how powerful communication is for all people.

Maja is the author of The Brain’s Playground: Using Improv Games To Teach Social and Emotional Learning as well as the author of a parenting guidebook titled 10 Minutes of Play for 10 Days. The Brain’s Playground includes her valuable research, data, and curriculum. 

Right now, she works as a Play Specialist focusing on inclusion using her curriculum designed to allow children and young adults to reach their highest potential in whichever way they feel most comfortable. Her newest project is a script putting her true stories with kids to life in a preschool animated pilot!

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