Improv, Persuasion, and Politics

Improv, Persuasion, and Politics

March 30th, 2012

Practical Skills

Bob Kulhan, CEO, Business Improv

Science Commentary

Eric Abrahamson, Hughie E. Mills Professor of Business Management


Persuading people is critical not only in sales but for leadership in general. While rhetorical skills help in preparing a presentation, reality often requires throwing away the script. Persuasion in important corporate decisions is rarely accomplished through a one-way lecture, usually it requires a two-way conversation that engages the audience and makes them feel committed. This workshop draws on the techniques of improv as a toolkit for handling vital persuasion challenges. Bob Kulhan and others from Business Improv will lead small groups through several exercises relevant to this skill set. Professor Abrahamson will then link these behavioral skills to research-based techniques for persuading audiences and orchestrating organizational change.

About the Speakers

Bob Kulhan is an Adjunct Professor of Business Administration at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. He also is the CEO of Business Improvisations, based out of Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. For over fifteen years Bob has performed and taught improvisation internationally. His consulting and teaching work in leadership and managerial improvisation includes emphases on team skills, fostering a collaborative corporate culture, whole body listening, busting blocks to creativity, conflict management, dyadic relationships, creative and adaptive problem solving, leadership, and fostering creative cultures.

Eric Abrahamson is the Hughie E. Mills Professor of Business Management at Columbia Business School. He studies the creation, spread, use and rejection of innovative techniques for managing organizations and their employees. He is best known for his work on fads and fashions in management techniques. He is also an expert on the management of organizational change. Professor Abrahamson holds degrees from New York University (Ph.D. and M.Ph. Beta Gamma Sigma) and joined the Columbia Business School faculty in 1989. Learn more about Professor Abrahamson.