Phonak U attendees learn the power of improv

This year’s event used a renowned improv program to teach students effective counseling skills. Learn more from event organizer, Steve Hallenbeck, Au.D., including how you can access the content.

This past summer, 53 students and professionals from 36 different university programs around the country ‘stepped into the spotlight’ at Phonak U with the help of Second City.  This virtual event was a great opportunity for students to enhance their counseling through improv.

To provide background on the event, Second City Works is an outgrowth of the Second City theater group that brought forth superstar talents like Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, Mike Meyers and so many more. This renowned program helps a myriad of businesses and professional organizations alike using improvisational comedy techniques like “yes, and” and other techniques to facilitate positive and effective communication. Throughout the session, students were divided into smaller breakout groups of 2 or 3 individuals.

The student attendees were presented with a variety of communication tasks which increased in complexity as the night went on. Some of the early exercises included listening and beginning each phrase with a “thank you” and then replying as the conversation developed.

While awkward at first, these exercises quickly built rapport. As the exercises became more challenging, the laughs began to roll as students were pressed to explain Bluetooth to someone living in the 1970s.

Enhancing counseling skills

This stretched the student’s capacity to think on their feet, avoid jargon and make the technology relevant to the individuals needs. Clearly, there is a direct connection between the improv techniques and the counseling methods hearing care professionals use when working with patients.

For all of these reasons, I recruited the Second City Works for an evening where students honed their counseling skills through improv while learning, laughing and networking. The Feedback from the event was wonderful and students have remarked:    

“This event was not what I was expecting but it was a lot of fun! When I went to clinic after the event I found myself implementing some of the skills we had practiced and my appointments went really successfully! I think using improv to improve clinical skills is a fantastic idea and was well worth the time!”

“After this training, I feel more confident in my abilities to connect with my patients in the future, and I am excited to be able to apply what I have learned to the clinic!”

Interested in trying it yourself?

Since skills like “listening without an agenda”, and “empathy building in conversation” are so useful at any stage of your career, it’s a great idea to search Second City Works on the internet and you can begin putting the “yes, and” mindset to work.

Along with the live virtual improv session, I also curated self-paced on-line learning content to provide the necessary audiological and technical information to make the event truly unique and special. This self-paced learning content is available at Click below to learn more.

Of course, stay-tuned for next year’s event! The best way to do this is by joining our Student AuDience Mailing list.  Click here to sign up.

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