Jay Sukow, How to Be a Better Communicator Through Improv – InnovaBuzz 360

Jay Sukow

Jay Sukow, Today Improv

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, writer, director, and Improv teacher, Jay Sukow. Jay has taught and performed all around the world, from Chicago to Los Angeles, to Copenhagen where he was an Artistic Director at ICC Theater in Copenhagen. Jay teaches people to build confidence and communicate effectively by learning Improvisation techniques.

In our discussion, Jay talked to me about:

  • Building our Improv muscle to be better communicators
  • How Improv helps us be more adaptable to change
  • What can be achieved by combining Empathy and Improv

Peter Margaritis in episode 309 introduced us to Jay.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Improv gives you a sense of confidence. It allows you to step outside of your own fears and insecurities. @JaySukow on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Jay Sukow of Today Improv

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • Improv gives you a sense of confidence. It allows you to step outside of your own fears and insecurities.
  • Learning to play and work with other people is a skill.
  • We have to work together no matter who we are.
  • The biggest thing in business right now is to find a way to make people feel like they are being heard.
  • YES-AND is the foundation of Improv.
  • People who are quiet, listen a lot and come up with the best lines because they are listening.
  • Leave room for everyone’s voices. Everyone’s voices have to be heard. That is what makes a group strong.
  • YES – BUT is almost worse than a NO.
  • Using YES – AND in business is about being open. It’s not about saying YES to everything. It’s more about listening to what the other person has to say and how can it work.
  • You can’t effectively communicate until you hear not just the words that somebody is saying but also how they are saying them. The way someone says something means more than that just the words they say. 
  • People remember the things we do and how we made them feel rather than what we say to them. 
  • There’s a difference between waiting to talk and listening in order to respond. When you take a moment to wait until someone is finished talking, it allows you to respond more effectively.
  • Improv is a muscle that you have to keep working and flexing.
  • Leave an extra moment of silence to allow people to feel comfortable to speak up. It’s not just inviting them to speak up. It is also leaving a space for them to digest that information.
  • Silence builds anticipation. It leaves room for people to digest information.
  • We are in this together. Do your part or the tribe dies. 
  • Focus on what the group is doing as a collective. Be able to rely on and trust each other. It’s not just about trusting other people but it’s you, yourself, being trustworthy.
  • You learn so much from failure. Failures can sometimes turn into gifts.
  • Learn to embrace failure. Organisations that embrace failure are the ones that thrive more than those who don’t.
  • Give people a moment to digest the information you are presenting. 
  • Notice people’s body language and don’t forget to look at the camera when doing a virtual presentation. Don’t overload your slide with so much information. Take a moment to pause and ask questions.
  • Improvise the scene you are in not the one you want to be in. 
  • People want you to do well in your presentation. They don’t want you struggling. They are already on your side as you go. 
  • You are more prepared than you think. 
  • Every day of our lives is improv. We all have the skill to adapt and navigate life as it goes. 
  • Saying YES – AND is the willingness to defer judgment. 
  • Celebrate failures as hard as you celebrate successes.
  • Improv is a skill that you can have and use every day. It’s the small ripples that lead to tremendous change and it’s a matter of just constantly doing it.
  • Change doesn’t mean that something is being taken away from us. Change is something that is given to us. Once you can change your mindset, your actions start changing and you start seeing results.
It's the small ripples that lead to tremendous change and it's a matter of just constantly doing it. @JaySukow on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Jay’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Be open and curious. Replace judgment with curiosity.
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Bring in your team. Rely on your team and know what your limitations are. Leave your ego at the door.
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – the internet and books by Alan Alda.
  4. Keep project/client on track – Hear them out. Know what they are looking for and learn to give information in a way that they can hear and digest it well. 
  5. Differentiate – Really know what your strengths are and play on those more. Live up to your word. You differentiate yourself by how you connect with other people. It’s all about relationships. If you can build relationships that are founded on respect, trust, support, and empathy, that is going to differentiate you. 

To Be a Leader

Do one thing that scares you each week. Following your fear will set you free. 

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Jay through their website

Suggested Guest

Jay suggested we have a conversation with Improvisor and corporate trainer, Gillian Bellinger. So Gillian, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Jay Sukow.


Cool Things About Jay

  • He has learned improv from great folks like Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Jon Favreau, Del Close, Keith Johnstone and many others.
  • He has performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Del Close Marathon, and several improv festivals throughout the country.
  • He was an ensemble member of ComedySportz Chicago, the Second City Faculty Jam, and several weekend “house” improv teams at iO Chicago, where he was also head of its artistic committee.
It's all about relationships. If you can build relationships that are founded on respect, trust, support, and empathy, that is going to differentiate you. @JaySukow on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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