Learn improv skills for communicators at Ragan’s Employee Comms Conference

The Second City’s Kelly Leonard will share how ‘Yes, and’ and ‘Thank you, because’ cultivate a culture rooted in positive human behavior.

The Ragan team excitedly prepares for our annual Employee Communications and Culture Conference, held this year at Chicago’s Fairmont Hotel April 16-18, 2024, with a stacked lineup of comms leaders from Levi Strauss & Co., Bayer, McDonald’s, Kraft Heinz, Silicon Valley Bank and more.

Also blessing the mainstage on the morning of April 17 is Chicago improv comedy legend Kelly Leonard, VP of creative strategy, innovation and business development at Chicago improv institution The Second City. For over 20 years, Leonard oversaw live theatrical divisions at The Second City, developing original productions with the likes of Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Steve Carell and others. He’s authored a critically-acclaimed book, “Yes, And: Lessons from The Second City” about wisdom gleaned from decades of improv comedy workshops.

During Leonard’s interactive keynote, he will share insights from an initiative he created in partnership with the Center for Decision Research at the Booth School at the University of Chicago, The Second Science Project, that looks at behavioral science through the lens of improvisation.

“The general idea is that we frequently might hold back information, or assume that the person only wants to hear general information, or be apprehensive about sharing personal information, for fear of being judged or not living to a standard,” said Second City Director Piero Procaccini, “but the opposite is actually true — there is more connectivity if you are willing to self-disclose information.”

Applying the findings of this research, Leonard will guide attendees through evidence-based exercises designed to foster collaborative and inclusive conversations and help build a culture that is rooted in positive human behavior.

“I really think why improvisation is so powerful is it’s literally human being practice,” Leonard told the “Mission Daily” podcast. “It’s getting in a room, making eye contact, saying some words, maybe saying gibberish and finding a way that we can understand each other, learn from each other and, most important, co-create with each other.”

Join Ragan at our 2024 Employee Communications and Culture Conference, April 16-18 2024, to learn how improvisation and collaboration builds a blueprint for a better work culture that keeps employees engaged and informed.


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