Improvise to empathise

A 90 minute Workshop by:

Karen Reilly


Kelly Shatter

Stoke Improv

Slides from session

The slides used for this session are available to download from here.

About this Workshop

The ability to empathise is one of the most powerful tools in a designer’s toolkit. At its most basic level, empathy is the ability to recognise emotions and thought processes that are being experienced by another person. It’s important for designers because it allows you to genuinely understand the motivations, needs, wants and desires of your target audiences. This in turn will help you to build effective strategies and ultimately design better products.

Where does improvisation come in? Improvisation helps you to listen to others more, to hear what's actually being said at a much deeper level. It gives you the tools to embody another person and see the world from their point of view. Most importantly, it enables you to practice empathy experientially rather then just thinking about it theoretically.

In this workshop, we will create a safe, playful and fun atmosphere to guide you through improvisation techniques and games that will help you get a strong sense of your audience's point of view. Using these techniques during the discovery phase of a project will help you to really get to the heart of the issues and needs of the people using your products. You’ll be able to identify pain points and opportunities that otherwise may never have surfaced and the best part is, it’s fast, cheap and fun to do.

About the Speakers

Karen Reilly

Karen is Director of User Experience at iterate, a leading UX design agency based in Dublin, Ireland.

Karen's passion for how people interact with technology started at a young age. In 1992, her family was one of the first in their area to purchase a personal computer - a Commodore 386SX-25. The battle over who got screen time was often lost to her older brother, so Karen took on the observer role and unwittingly learnt a lot about human computer interaction.

With time, Karen went from supervising her brother to completing a BSc in psychology applied to IT and a MSc in cyberpsychology at IADT, Dublin. She is also a seasoned comedy improviser, performing with troupes such as "Snowglobe" and "DIMprov Cats".

Working with a broad range of clients, from Saint-Gobain and Liberty Insurance to some of Ireland's best known universities and technology companies, Karen leads her team to design easy-to-use, intuitive and enjoyable online solutions.


Kelly Shatter

Kelly is an educator, writer and performer with ten years of teaching experience. She has taught all over Ireland and abroad. She is an alumna of the world-famous Comedy Theatre, iO West LA (formally ImprovOlympic) Other alumni include Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Mike Myers. Kelly co-wrote/directed Big Bobby. Little Bobby (Winner of First Fortnight at the Dublin Fringe Festival). Kelly is co creator and co-star of the comedy series Long Dark Twenties.