Improvisation as a communication tool can be broken down into two steps:
Listen, then react.
Without being able to plan ahead in the conversation or the scene, Improvisers are skilled at being present and in the moment, fine-tuning their listening skills to yield honest reactions that keep moving the story and conversation forward.
Skilled Improvisers are also excellent at re-incorporation, or “the call-back” as it’s coined in the comedy world.
Reincorporating a piece of information, a line of dialogue or a small moment from earlier in the scene or story usually results in a big laugh. Reincorporation is a favorite of Improv audiences because they are amazed we remembered such details, and what is familiar usually get a laugh.
Without superb listening and awareness skills, reincorporation wouldn’t be possible.
But, reincorporation can delight more than just Improv audiences.
Its applications stretch from presentation skills to interviews, praise, and building connections with everyday conversations.
Reincorporation really just means we’ve been listening, and it always feels nice to know you’ve been listened to. It shows that you care, and you are paying attention – imagine the delight and surprise when a small piece of information is reincorporated in an improvised story, perhaps an hour after it was first introduced. Reincorporating an idea, or an employee concern, or praise of a job well done can have the same effect.
Specificity plays a role here too. The more detailed the reincorporation, the bigger the reaction and delight you are creating.
As a presentation tool, reincorporation helps with retention, learning, and information summary. Repeating key points or key themes in a presentation is a strategic tool.
Listen, then react… with an emphasis on the listening.