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Universal Mind Partners with Ladies that UX Denver

An of Evening of Learning & Laughs. Zip, Zap, Zop!

As a proud sponsor of Ladies that UX, Universal Mind recently partnered with Ladies that UX Denver to host their first Meetup of 2017! Ladies that UX is an international organization comprised of local chapters in over 50 geographies with a mission of being a monthly Meetup that creates a welcoming, transparent community of women that work in UX to positively promote and teach one another. The Denver chapter was founded in October of 2016, and Universal Mind has been a proud supporter since day one.


For this particular event, the topic was Evening of Learning & Laughs: Where UX and Improv Meet, which explored how the techniques and mindsets of improv comedy can enhance UX skills. Camie Steinhoff, a Design Researcher at Travelport, presented the parallels between the two that she experienced while taking improv classes.

During improv training, it is best to adopt the idea of “Yes… and…Thinking.” This technique suggests that a participant should accept what another member has stated (“yes”) and then expand on that line of thinking (“and”).¹ This can also be used in business and UX as a principle that improves the brainstorming process, fosters effective communication and encourages the free sharing of ideas.² This technique is valuable when working with clients on brainstorming ideas around a project. The value is accepting the ideas that are presented and building on them to creative a cohesive plan for the next steps.

Camie shared many example of where Improv thinking can be used across the client process with UX including:

Adaptable Processes

  • Improv: Audience Suggestion
    Tenants & Best Practices
  • UX: Research Insights, Stakeholder Requests & User-centered Design Process (Design Thinking)

Empathy & Emotion

  • Improv: Study people for new characters
  • UX: Personas & Study users to deeply understand


  • Improv: Learning how the scene is unfolding
  • UX: Learn as much as possible from your customers

After, the presentation, the ladies broke off into group-wide improv games and exercises that can be used with teams and clients. One such game was “Zip, Zap, Zop.” This game is about focus and energy. As students pass the energy across the circle (in the form of a Zip, a Zap, or a Zop), they make eye contact with the person they send the energy to, and work together to keep the rhythm going. The activity also provides an opportunity to explore pace, specificity of choice, energy, and sequence. This game is an excellent way to connect with clients and commit to the energy of the project with everyone in the room. Learn how to play here.

As the evening concluded, participants attended a local improv comedy show at Denver’s VoDoo Comedy Lounge. This show was an excellent way to see these techniques in action. (The drinks probably helped too!)

Interested in hearing more? Join the conversation on Twitter - follow @LadiesThatUXDEN or check out the local Meetup in your area.

¹ “What I Learned From the First Rule of Improv - Yes, And”.