On Oct. 23, select members of the Rollins Improv Players (RIP) teamed up with the Emerging Leadership Institute (ELI) to create a day-long series of workshops designed to help improve the leaders’ communication skills.
It all started when ELI approached Dr. David Charles (Dr. D), artistic director of RIP, with the idea to do a workshop with the young leaders during their weekend leadership course.
After an additional request was made, Dr. D presented the idea to the Players during an executive meeting. There was some interest from a small group of RIP players so they banded together to work on making the request come to life.
Jennifer Stull ’12, Spencer Lynn ’13, Renee Fiorot ’12, Brian Hatch ’12, Amanda Leakey ’11, Nick Zazulia ’11, and Dr. D began meeting together to organize the little details of the workshops and fine-tune the exercises they planned to use; Laura Hardwicke ’11, one of ELI’s facilitators, provided her own input as a type of ELI liaison. Despite all of the people who helped to coordinate everything, on Saturday it was just Stull, Lynn, Fiorot and Zazulia who traveled to a conference room in Orlando to run the workshops.
The day was divided into three parts, with each group coming in separately and working for an hour each. Every workshop began the same: a quick introduction from the Players and an ice breaker game called Bunny, Bunny. Following the warm-up, Fiorot and Lynn transitioned the young leaders into a new game called Electric Company. The point of the game was to improve the participants’ teamwork as well as their listening and reaction skills by giving them a split second to create a word association with the person next to him or her.
After the game, the Players asked the leaders about what they learned from the game and their thoughts about it.
Alexis Riley ’12 supplied them with a quick answer: “As a leader, I was impressed with the moments we messed up… and the calmness we had to solve it.”
The rest of the workshops continued in a similar fashion, with the members of RIP setting up seemingly silly games that subtly tested the leaders’ communication skills.
After one game known as Harold, where each person was given a chance to call for the room’s undivided attention and say whatever they wished, Sam Pieniadz ’14 told the group, “I was surprised at how easy it is to speak when you know that people are listening to you.” The Players then gathered their mentees into an Identity Circle and gave everyone a chance to be honest about their insecurities, their goals and what they are proud of. To conclude the workshop, Zazulia put the group through a series of role-playing exercises to demonstrate how to work well in a group by utilizing good listening. While all of these games seemed rather irrelevant to becoming good leaders, Stull eventually explained that the point of these exercises was to facilitate them in “being able to communicate your [the leaders’] views to a group of people in an eloquent fashion.” While there are no current plans to run another workshop due to the amount of time and effort required to make it successful, Zazulia said that RIP would consider any requests sent in to them.
Regardless, their first workshop seemed to be a success and hopefully the members of ELI who participated on Saturday walked away with, if nothing else, more knowledge about themselves both as people and as communicators.