I've always described the feeling of being in a great improv scene as akin to a form of surfing—on a flying magic carpet. The speed is exhilarating, the direction is unpredictable, there are ups and downs, and yet there is no fear. No fear of falling, of misdirection, of what's next. That lack of fear is based on two conditions: One, the improvisers are in the mindset of discovery, and two, strong declarations have been made at the beginning of the scene.
For an improviser, a declaration signals the start, but perhaps more importantly builds the foundation of the scene that is about to occur. The strength of that foundation (the carpet that you are riding upon) relies on the quality of the initial declarations the improvisers have made. A declaration means letting each other, our teammates, and the audience know who we are, where we are, what our point of view is, and what we want to accomplish in the scene.
A strong declaration is one that is clear, concise, authentic, and rich in content.
There's a very real relationship between the strength of the declarations and the level of safety the participants in the scene feel. The same holds true for any conversation, brainstorming session, or innovation process. The declarations that we make—and the clarity with which we communicate our ideas, our points of view, and the information that we are trying to share—all ...