Tips and techniques from theatre for enhancing empathy and user engagement

Workshop Overview: Empathy for people lies at the heart of user experience work. Questions like “Who might use our products and services?”, “How, when, where and why might people use our products and services?”, and “How can we improve users’ experience with our products and services?” require empathy and engagement.

It is difficult to train empathy and related soft skills, like observation and active listening. Enter Constantin Stanislavski. An actor and director in early 20th century Russia, he developed a system of practical tools and exercises for teaching actors to portray characters with truth and a sense of reality. This work is highly relevant to the field of UX, in particular the development of empathy for users and insight into their goals and tasks. His techniques can be used to train UX practitioners through exploring and understanding their own emotions and memories, and working on skills in observation, concentration and the use of imagination.

In this workshop, we will explore Stanislavski’s techniques and practical exercises for improving empathy, observation, and focussed attention. Participants in this workshop will leave with an understanding of the foundation of Stanislavski’s system and a toolbox of useful and fun exercises to practice and share.