Client and Student Interviews

Hoopla facilitator and teacher Liam Brennan interviewed a diverse range of Hoopla clients and students to ask how they’ve applied improv into their work life and businesses. Here’s what they had to say.


Jared Foley: Account Director at Marlin PR

Liam: Can you tell us more about you and your job?

Jared: I work in public relations with a company called Marlin PR. We’re one of the top technology agencies in the country and we are in the pursuit of better. We only have clients that we believe in, clients that are good for the economy, for the country, for the people. This means we don’t touch certain categories of business.

We have some very high-tech clients including 7 technology unicorns ie. they’ve got billion dollar evaluations before they go public at IPA, some of which have. We’re fairly unique in that we’re a small agency with some massive technology clients such as Slack, Sony and companies that handle cyber security products. It’s quite a big roster of some big people in tech.

It’s very fun but it can be quite intense, you need to have the right thoughts, be creative, be professional, be strategic at the right times. So balancing all that is very stressful, whatever PR role you happen to be in.

Liam: What originally made you sign up to a Hoopla impro course?

Jared: My company is very progressive and allows a certain budget that we can spend on well-being or self-improvement that can help us out in our business. I struggled for a long time deciding how to spend that money until I came across a podcast presented by three comedians who were improvisers. I thought these guys were really funny but they were talking in a terminology that I didn’t understand, so I googled it and found out this is a thing you can learn and it sounded amazing.

Improv sounded like something I wanted to do as it sounded really useful for building self confidence and being able to communicate better with people who I was meeting for the first time. There can be occasions when you’re going into a meeting cold and your mind isn’t picking up on conversational cues, so you end up sitting there awkwardly and giving false smiles. In that sense, improv has delivered for me in being much more adept in those situations.

Liam: In what other ways has improv impacted your professional life?

I think the main takeaway really has been self confidence. In my job in public relations, the stakes are high and you need to get it right. However there are opportunities in team meetings and brainstorming sessions to go a bit crazier and riff off everyone to improvise and see where ideas can take you. Improv creates a safe space and allows you to do more creative things than an office environment might usually allow.

Once you’ve set the right agenda in a meeting or a brainstorm and people are working towards a brief, if you think in a yes-and mindset you end up with something more creative or authentically true. If you’re in a more inhibited mindset and are playing things very safe, you end up with smaller or boring ideas. If you can be more creative and if people can ‘yes and’ you can say: “That’s great and I’ve got a bit more to add onto that” and you end up with a bigger and better idea. It also creates an idea that people can really believe in as they’ve had a cooperative part in creating it.

On a personal level improv has been one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life, I think everyone should do it. I think if you’re an extroverted person it gives you a platform to be loud and crazy. If you’re an introverted person it’s even better as you can do the same thing as it’s one of the only platforms that lets you expose that part of yourself. The only warning I would give people is that you can pull some serious facial muscles from all the smiling, it’s a genuine problem I’ve discovered.

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