Justin Howard ('05) recently spoke at TEDx Talk in Dayton, Ohio. Due to his outstanding communication skills he created an theater called, "The Black Box Improv Theater" located in Dayton. Witnessing Howard's ability to converse with people he was encouraged by his fellow alumni and WYSO Director of Advancement, Luke Dennis to submit an application to be a speaker.
Howard had applied for TEDx Talk, but his application was dropped because they had incorrect contact information. Therefore, he was not able to reply to the email he was sent inviting him to participate in TEDx Talk. Sometime later an editor from Dayton Daily News, Ron Rollins saw Howard speak at an event and petitioned that he'd be a speaker.
"I wanted to participate in TEDx because I believe that what we do at the theater has the ability to connect with people more than just comedically. I knew if I could get the audience to laugh, I'd be able to leave a lasting impression on them," said Howard.
Due to Howard having experience with improv performances he did not organize his TEDx Talk. However, he did plan a short segment of an improv performance.
"This caused the organizers a great deal of stress leading up to the event," said Howard. "In the moments before walking on stage I made the decision to be less concerned with speaking to the audience in a way that would get my talk posted on the website, and instead focused on Dayton."
His talk was titled "Follow the Fear," a phrase that was made popular in improv by Del Close. Howard explained that he continues to say "Yes" to the opportunities that are given to him and that he lets go of what is safe and continues to move forward.
"If you're here because you want to rub shoulders with important people in Dayton, I'm here to tell you that there are no important people in Dayton. If you choose to leave here today motivated to action, you might just end up as the first," said Howard.
He encourages those interested in TEDx and believes if you have something valuable to say then express it.
"To those interested in improv, it has been the single most impactful thing in my life thus far," said Howard. "I continually have students come to me and tell me how it not only taught them to perform but also helped repair relationships both at home and the workplace. It helps form an incredible sense of community and gets at the very core of communication."
For more information about Justin Howard's improvisational theater visit www.theblackboximprov.com
Written by: Ciara Colvin '16