Improv acting is ideal for anyone who is practicing or is currently studying law.
I’m a college student. A hairy, black and white 220lb bamboo eating sex machine (click for more info) studying in an university somewhere on the eastern coast of the United States. Never mind how the admission got past the fact that I’m not human, what’s happening now is that I’m studying for entry into law school. And the improv acting I’m doing on the side is unsuspectingly preparing me in all the right ways.
For the most part, improv acting is comedy; you and typically a cast of five others share a stage and act on the audience’s suggestions. You perform what comes naturally to mind, typically starting a scene as an everyday action that with the help of your team members, becomes chaotic and laughably out of the norm. Whether you are a performer or audience member, improv acting can be a lot of fun; however, it is also a surprisingly great way to kick off someone’s law career. Here are three reasons why improv acting is perfect for anyone studying or practicing law:
1.) Attorney’s need improvisational skills in debates
Whether you’re a current law student, an attorney, or just somebody interested in entering the field in the future, one of the most apparent skills required is the ability to effectively debate. Granted, in order to debate a topic strategically, one has to deeply understand the topic at hand and gather effective points before the proceeding commences. Of course, this is only half the battle; whether it be in a classroom mock trial or a courtroom, there is bound to be an unexpected question or response your opponent will have that will leave you scrambling to respond appropriately.
This is where that practice from doing improv comes into play. In improv acting, you are taught to work with your partner in finding the scene in order to understand who both of you are portraying and what’s happening in the environment. Relaxing one’s mind and body, it is important for the actor to listen and respond naturally to what his/her partner is saying. Once the improv actor responds, it is up to the partner to do the same in a similarly appropriate matter, till eventually the game is found and the actor understands how to direct his energy. All this happens in the mere matter of seconds.
The ability to think of and respond to a response appropriately and effectively under pressure is exactly what improv teaches. These valuable lessons can be easily applied to the stressful and quick responded debates that soon-to-be or present attorneys find themselves in. Only instead of learning the hard way during a debate, it’s in a relaxing and fun environment that encourages you to learn from your mistakes and try again.
2.) It teaches the valuable skill of having the confidence to speak in front of others
Acting, no matter what format, requires guts. To act effectively in front of an audience demands confidence on stage, and there is no better way to improve this skill then going in front of friends and colleagues to practice. Improv is the place for this. After every improv rehearsal, it becomes easier and easier to act naturally while performing in front of your fellow actors. Eventually, after trial, error, and doing a few shows, you develop the essential skill of feeling comfortable in your skin in front of an audience.
Improv transfers this concept to many day to day tasks, but for the sake of the topic, is easily transferable to the courtroom or classroom debate. What’s important is that not only you know your material and have the ability to respond to the unexpected, but look and sounds confident while doing so.
3.) You develop the ability to read others
Improv is all about reading another person’s body language. Aside from being a good listener, the actor needs to pick up on physical actions that his/her partner is performing on stage. It can be something as obvious as screaming while pretending to swim away from an angry herd of mutated panda bears, or it could be something as subtle picking their nail to indicate they are nervous. Either way, you need a sharp eye if you ever want to perform effectively on stage.
And in the courtroom scene. Knowing how to read and pick up on different body signals is not a necessity to being a good attorney, but it sure as hell helps a lot. Looking at an opposing witness and observing their physical actions to see how confident they are in what they’re saying; picking up on the other lawyer’s body language when he’s speaking in front the courtroom; or even seeing how the judge reacts to how you’re presenting your argument. Understanding how to read body language can be a very powerful tool in law just as much as it is a necessity to the improv actor.
Improv acting is a lot of fun, and has many lessons that are surprisingly applicable to law. Of course, law isn’t the only thing that can benefit from improv; business ownership, leadership skills, team management, and creative writing are a few practices I can pull from the top of my head that can probably learn a thing or two from improv. Improv acting is based on one’s ability to apply knowledge and act creatively; be an improv actor and try to apply what you’ve learned to your own interests or professional careers. You might find that in think from a different perspective, you can gain a better grasp of world.