PPT Improv Case Study: 'Say a Word'

corry ng ppi

PowerPoint Improv student Corry Ng

One of the most audience pleasing exercises that we do in PowerPoint Improv is 'Say a Word'.

This is usually employed in our WILD CARD format. On one night in particular, Performance Level student Corry [pictured above] had a fabulous experience with the game.

The participant is first given a style of presenting [e.g. infomercial, master's thesis, vacation slides].

When their turn comes, they present themselves to the audience and say a single word - virtually any word will work.

Once the word is delivered, they then turn to discover [for the 1st time] what the slide actually is.

Now they must continue speaking for 15 seconds and justify they word they chose in the context of the slide, in the style they were given.

Here, the style is 'Art Appreciation'.

So Corry must deliver a quick essay on a particular piece of art that she has no idea is coming up.

She opens with the word 'Expensive', then turns to see a big Lego machine. Now she must justify why this machine art would cost a lot.

Cause she's a bit of a super-hero nerd, she goes with the fact that the metal in this Lego set is the same as that in Wolverine's claws- Adamantium. Boom.


PPT Improv Case Study: Bridgeable

Bridgeable PPI 2

I've been doing weekly Improv with 'Bridgeable'*, a Liberty Village innovation and design firm, since 2009.

The CEO was a student of mine at The Second City, and he brought me in to offer his employees a fun, team-building break from the demands of their workdays.

This is a group of very smart and creative people. So there's a high level of intelligence in their Improv fun, which makes the gig extra good for me- smart and funny is always a great combo.


But this successful company has done a lot of hiring over those years that I've been working with them.

So there's always a mix in my sessions- some folks that have been enjoying the weekly sessions for years, and also fresh faces from the 'just hired' ranks.

So the principal challenge for me as a faciliator is to keep the Improv veterans engaged while offering the newbies a crash course in the basics.


The solution is PowerPoint Improv; a mixture of classic Improv exercises and 'make 'em up' slide shows.

The best thing about PPT Improv for businesses is that EVERYONE in the room can start succeeding from 'go'.

They've all sat through at least a dozen PPT presentations, many have also done a more than few themselves.

So we're starting with a structure that everyone in the room 'gets'.

With traditional Improv, there's sometimes uncomfortablility with the theatre aspects- acting, miming, playing 'characters'. With PowerPoint Improv, most if not all of those are minimized, ensuring that everyone gets up to speed quicker.

Bridgeable PPI


I start with a couple of Improv warmups that outline the fundamental concepts: offers, acceptance, and building on the ideas of others [Yes anding].

Then we do some fun presentational exercises to get them in the 'stand and deliver' frame of mind.

Now we're ready to tackle the slides that I have prepared for the day.

I have 5 PowerPoint Improv slide batches prepared: 30 Wild Cards, 2 debate and 2 Team Presentations.

The slide deck** categories for today are i) Exercise ii) Relationships iii) Parenting iv) Food.

It's usually best to start with Wild Cards.

4-6 participants are given a style of presenting [e.g. infomercial, master's thesis, vacation slides] and we roll through 10 or so slides in turns.

Then we change up the style , and go again.

I'm coaching them throughout- Face your audience, Keep it short, Act confident [even if you aren't], etc.

Once pretty much everyone in the room has had a chance to do 2 or 3 slides, we get to the 'slide decks'.

I get a couple of folks up and we get a specific topic for debate, inside a broad category [e.g 'Exercise' - "Gyms are a waste of money"].

Then it's two team presentations, where the pairs have to pick up with their new slide, where their partner's slide justification left off.

Stand and Deliver- 20 seconds per slide, extra points for style!

*Bridgeable.com From insight to impact Bridgeable is an award-winning strategic design firm that helps organizations cross the bridge from knowledge to action **Each PPT Improv deck = 8 slides, auto-forward after 20 seconds, collected images themed around a broad category [e.g. human behaviour, technology, food], 4th slide is always a graph or chart.   BridgeProv PPI

PPT Improv Case Study: MaRSproV

snowmen PPI

Every Thursday from 12 to 1pm, I lead a group of MaRS Discovery District tenants, employees, guests and satellite members in an hour of PowerPoint Improv.

We call it MaRSproV

We've done 18 months of noon sessions together, and the numbers continue to grow.

They've got a nice little studio [Studio Y] on the PATH level to use for MaRS community cultural experiences.

With just an hour of time, we're quick to get through a warm up exercise or two, and get to the good stuff.

These folks are very well acquainted with the corporate experience of PowerPoint.

More than once, they've told me that they just came from a presentation or are going to one after Improv.

So they're very motivated to have some fun with a task that can otherwise be a gruelling 90 minutes of their workday.

Also commonly said by MaRSproV participants is that they feel much lighter going back to the office, and that their colleagues ask if they've "just been to the gym".