CSz Business Training. Work is not just the numbers - it's the story.

As CSz performers, we use our improvisation skills onstage to get people laughing.  Conveniently, offstage, we use them to run a successful business. We specialize in teaching people HOW to use improvisation techniques in their work lives. We teach the essential, yet often overlooked or discarded, communication and listening skills that will consistently improve the quality of your work, home and social relationships. We call this Applied Improvisation.

Worldwide, CSz has delivered successful training to employees in every known industry, from network execs to nuns, from lawyers to lumberjacks to high-tech engineers. We’ve been hired by at least 65 of this year's Fortune 500 companies, often repeatedly. In Portland alone, we've worked with over 500 organizations since 1993.

We offer vital information in a format that's thoroughly entertaining and makes the discussion of key concepts both more resonant and memorable for your people.  And that's the goal - give them a great experience that will bond them socially and empower them in their work capacity. One more thing: We never forget the fun!

CSz Business Training can design a session or series that fits your needs and goals. Let us know what your needs are, and we'll design for your goals.

We offer Foundational and Tailored Modules in the following areas:

Basics of Improv Skills for Business
Customer Service
Equity & Inclusion
Communication Skills
Team Building
Design Thinking
Presentation Skills
Keynotes / Motivational Speaking
Custom Applications

[What is the difference between Foundational and Tailored Modules? The answer is here.]

Improv is a System. Learn more:

Basics of Improv Skills for Business

(Foundational Module)

Improvisation is not "winging it".
It's a highly-refined system of observing, connecting and responding.

  • Listening - with true focus, staying in the moment

  • Accepting - circumstances and what others bring to the table

  • Supporting - making others look good

  • Taking Competent Risks - trusting and using your intuition

  • Letting Go of Mistakes - learn and move on

Patrick Short on our improv system - watch the video here.

These workshops are often the starting point for our clients. You've been hearing and reading that improv skills can help in a variety of business areas, including team dynamics and communication. We get your team moving, laughing, learning, and seeing each other as people, not positions.

We've sourced a great group of exercises over the last 30+ years; we plan a syllabus and then adapt to your group in the moment - putting our own concepts into practice. No one is forced to perform, and each group brings its own special characteristics to the action. It's fast-paced and connects to your work. It's also inclusive, low-risk and amazing.

Most Basics of Improv Skills for Business workshops are 2-3 hours, and fit well into a single day or multiple day event for your department or group. Often, they are used as a starting point to explore Leadership, Customer Service and other areas.

"Everyone had a blast and it was so refreshing to have everyone smiling and laughing together. We had some incredible feedback from the staff and all of it was extremely positive. Some of them really feel renewed in their work and how they interact with others."

April Sedillo, Providence ElderPlace


Yes And Your Customer Service and Aim to Impress Customer Service

(Foundational and Tailored Modules)

What if your employees were empowered to make customer service an opportunity instead of a cost?

The top of your game is not your rulebook, nor your script, nor what you did with the last customer. It's improvisation - a highly refined system of observing, connecting and responding.

We apply improv to these areas:

  • Listening with focus

  • Accepting circumstances

  • Empathy with Customers

  • Supporting the Team - making others look good

  • Letting Go of preconceived roles and roadblocks

  • Sharing mistakes - and shaking them off

  • Saying YES, AND...

  • Finding where we're needed without direction

  • Awareness of the Big Picture

And while we help your people become more effective, we're bonding them together, engaging them and helping you retain them.


  • Yes And Your Customer Service (Foundational Module) covers the basics of how using an improv mindset makes customer service more effective.

  • Aim to Impress Customer Service (Tailored Module) goes deeper, exploring how awareness of Status and the Big Picture affect our ability to exceed expectations and make customers fans for life.

Workshops range from two hours to multiple days to a series over several weeks.  Let us know what you need.  We'd love to help you get your service to the next level.

"We built great awareness on considering the language we use and the actions we take and how they impact others. Improvisation is valuable, not just because it applies, but because it is a different way of tackling problems and opportunities. It brings new perspective in a fun, interesting and lasting way."

Lori Bocklund, Strategic Contact


biz group clipped_rev_1.png

Listening 3.0 and more

  • Listening for value for both parties

  • Making sure all members of the team are heard

  • Constructive criticism - assuming positive intent

  • Interruption comes with a cost

  • Viewing others as people, not positions

  • Getting on the same page

  • Experience better meetings

  • Yes And vs Yes, But

  • Difficult Conversations

Our lives are moving so fast that it's difficult to forge two-way communication; we often rely on e-mail and text, where over 90% of the context and supporting information is lost. CSz training helps your team recognize and grow their connections with each other.

The Foundational Module includes listening, connecting, responding and meeting dynamics.
The Tailored Modules involve deeper dives into team dynamics and are custom-designed to fit your industry, your group's identity and what your group does.

"Very positive training, best one in years! CSz was AWESOME!"

Worksource, Washington State


Equity and Inclusion (beta)

(Foundational Module)

Dynamics of Differences in the Workplace

This is who we are, and we can do better.

We use improv skills to illustrate and learn the differences between destroyer, equalizer and creator views of diversity.

  • Leverage strengths

  • Learn about cultural communications differences

  • Accept - Adapt - Integrate. Doing better is a process, not an end-point.


  • Communication

  • Creativity

  • Productivity

  • Morale

  • Trust

  • Respect


  • Negative Assumptions

  • Viral rumors and destructive incidents

  • The “In-Group” mentality

CSz Portland’s Equity and Inclusion Program is developed by Leann Johnson and Patrick Short. We are seeking more clients to help us continue this development.

Call Patrick at 503.236.8888 x4 to discuss your needs.

Team Building Using Applied Improv

(Foundational Module)

The Building Blocks of Everything We Do

When people see a ComedySportz® show for the first time, they're often struck by how the players seem to read each others' minds, and how completely they support each other. No one seems worried when things go wrong - often, the audience can't even tell that something isn't perfect.

It's not an accident.  It's by design, and we can apply those same skills to your company. Give us a few hours of your people's time, and we'll help you build a stronger team.

We focus on these areas:

  • Laughing together

  • Thinking fast

  • Listening with focus

  • Letting Go of preconceived roles and roadblocks

  • Sharing mistakes - and shaking them off

  • Saying YES, AND...

  • Honoring and Building on our teammates' contributions and ideas

  • Finding where we're needed without direction

  • Committing to the goal

  • Making Others Look Good

  • Celebrating our team accomplishments

Sounds like a pretty good team, doesn't it?

All of our workshops contain multiple elements of team building - and they go way beyond "trust exercises".  Trust doesn't happen just because you catch someone falling backward. We give you the building blocks that create trust.

Team Building is the core of what we do. 

Workshops range from two hours to multiple days to a series over several weeks.  Let us know what you need.  We'd love to help you build your team.

"Wonderful! We really appreciate your efforts. The event helped solidify and create a great atmosphere within the team."

Saul Lopez, Nike North America Brand Organization

Yes And Leadership and Advanced Improv Leadership

(Foundational and Tailored Modules)

Management is never easy, but it can become easier to lead.

Great management takes ongoing work to overcome innumerable challenges. Hone the craft of caring for your team through listening, inclusion, support, empowerment and understanding the needs of those who follow. Have you noticed how the world has changed? Top-down hierarchies need to adapt to more flexible ways of thinking and doing. 

  • Play Multiple Roles - be more flexible without breaking

  • Command authority without demanding it - lead by following

  • Identify both productive and non-productive games and patterns

  • Build morale by being present and in the moment

  • Be a better listener for your team

  • Take risks without panic: the minute you take a step, conditions WILL change

We can help your managers become leaders.  These workshops are great for:

  • Leadership Teams

  • Groups of Managers

  • New Manager with an established team

  • Established Manager with a new team

Inspire your leaders.  Inspire your teams.  We can help.

"Since our workshop, my supervisors have been more effective in their communication and recognition of 'their customers', the front line employees. I personally enjoyed the fact that your group is professional, non-judgmental, encouraging and fun."

Horizon Air


Design Thinking Ideation / Brainstorming

(Foundational and Tailored Modules)

Get rid of the roadblocks at the start of your projects.

Improv culture - the spirit of collaboration through Yes, And... - is a great fit for Design Thinking.

  • Fail early

  • Fail often

  • Remove editors, critics and judges from the early stages

  • Leap past roadblocks

  • Get ideas flowing without judgement

  • Build on each other's ideas

We've built an exciting Design Thinking module that fits right into a half day session of Applied Improvisation.

"Thanks again for a great class today at PSU. Students loved it! One student from the architecture department even commented that what he learned from that session will probably serve him for life. Great thing to hear!"

Shimon Shmueli, Portland State University and Touch 360


Improvisation teaches us a lot about life.

Patrick Short is in his 31st year  leading ComedySportz® Shows and Applied Improv Workshops; he also spent a lot of time in the high-tech industry, marketing to and selling to companies of all kinds. He gets how to relate improv concepts to actually doing business. We have other great presenters, too!

Patrick Short is in his 31st year leading ComedySportz® Shows and Applied Improv Workshops; he also spent a lot of time in the high-tech industry, marketing to and selling to companies of all kinds. He gets how to relate improv concepts to actually doing business. We have other great presenters, too!

It's a highly refined system of observing, connecting and responding. The results are pretty positive: we make something out of nothing, and make something better out of the opportunities we are given.

Let us share this system with your group, department, team, meeting, association or convention.

We can relate it to what they need. Guaranteed.

When would you want a Keynote?

  • When you want a kick-off with a huge burst of energy

  • When you want people to laugh and take away some useful and practical theories and applications

  • When a ComedySportz® Show isn't the right fit, and you have too many people, too little time and/or not enough space for a fully participatory workshop

We can tailor the presentation to your group and to your situation, from a few folks in a conference room to thousands.  From 15 to 90 minutes, this speech will leave people laughing with each other.  Even if what we say isn't laugh out loud, the exercises we weave in for demonstration and participation will be a blast.

Choose from the following, or suggest your own:

  • What Business Can Learn From Improv

  • Leading Your Group to the Extraordinary

  • Presentation Skills (yes, a presentation on presentation skills)

  • Customer Service: Anticipate and Impress

  • Improv Skills for Sales Professionals

  • Working with Difficult People

  • Vision: Do Good, Have Fun, Make Money

Looking for a motivational speaker who can give your audience practice and experience to make a positive change in the world? Give us a call. 503.236.8888 x4.

Presentation Skills / Public Speaking 

We're comfortable in front of audiences without a script. We can teach you how to be both comfortable and effective.

Large Group Workshops and Presentation Modes

  • Tailored Modules

  • Keynotes

Group classes

  • Companies looking to train groups of employees

  • A course for universities and college campuses

  • Soon to be added to our CSz Education Classes for Adults


One on one training and coaching

  • An introductory training course for novices.

  • Coaching for more experienced students.

Sessions can be customized to focus on the student’s specific needs and can be done in-house or remotely.

Contact Patrick at 503.236.8888 x4 for more information - or write us at patrick (at) cszportland.com


Our teachers have hundreds or even thousands of ComedySportz® shows and workshops under their belts. Through our licensing organization, the CSz Worldwide, we've exchanged ideas and training with the best improvisers and teachers across the United States and United Kingdom, and certified this through our Certified Applied Improvisation Provider program. Now, by adding membership in the Applied Improvisation Network, we've gotten even stronger through world-wide alliances. We're constantly improving our offerings, and we work with amazing companies. We also have the business experience to back our activities up, make sense of them and relate them to your objectives.

CSz workshop facilitators are improv professionals from with significant professional experience in:

  • High Tech Sales

  • Customer Service

  • Small Business Ownership

  • Information Services / Reference Librarian

  • Human Resources / recruiting

  • Product Design

  • Branding

  • Engineering

  • Law

  • Health Professions

  • Education

  • Purchasing and Accounting

  • and more

Our Co-Owner and General Manager, Patrick Short, a veteran of CSz since 1987, was involved in our very first team building engagement with Apple in 1989. Patrick began using Applied Improvisation during graduate school, teaching elementary education candidates at the University of Wisconsin how to survive in the classroom. After receiving the MFA degree in Directing, Patrick moved into hi-tech marketing and then sales, assisting clients with their acquisition of manufacturing and distribution systems; this career allowed him the opportunity to learn how companies work - and sometimes don't work. He's taught our CSz 101 Class, a beginning improv course, 101 times - and has designed and led custom workshops for over 600 organizations. Patrick wrote the Corporate Workshops portion of our league-wide ComedySportz® Manual and has co-authored two books.  Meet Patrick through this video.

Want some details about our team?  Here's how we walk the talk:

  • CSz Portland has 45 team members; all came up through our classes and Minor League / Rec League System. We've never had an audition.

  • 5 of 12 founding members from 1993 are still on the payroll

  • Most players attend between 25 and 100 workshops and classes a year. That's a lot of continuing education.

  • 25 members of the team teach during the year.

  • We've performed over 5000 shows and taught more than 2000 workshops since 1993 - in a business with an average lifespan of six months.

  • We operate a profitable for-profit company - most theatres are not-for-profit and most teachers in our business are sole proprietors; we're putting our own training into practice - in our own company - every day.

Our whole team has soaked up approaches from a wide range of sources in Applied Improvisation and beyond; We've synthesized our methodology by serving hundreds of clients in many fields and by teaching each other within our group.

We bring the appropriate people to work with your group, and we have resources to draw upon both inside and outside our organization (nationwide and world wide).

Our Certifications:

Patrick Short, CAI-EP (Executive Practitioner, CSz Worldwide) and AIP (Applied Improvisation Network)
Betse Green, CAI-SP (Senior Practitioner, CSz Worldwide)
Curtis Frye, CAI-P (Practitioner, CSz Worldwide)
Theresa Robbins Dudeck, Ph.D, CAI-SP (Senior Practitioner, CSz Worldwide) - Theresa is on leave (Fall 2019) teaching in Brazil on a Fulbright Scholarship.
David Koff, CAI-SP (Senior Practitioner, CSz Worldwide)

Our Books

Jill and Patrick's Small Book of Improv for Business

the  Small Book  makes a nice companion to our training

the Small Book makes a nice companion to our training

CSz Portland's Patrick Short has teamed up with Jill Bernard (HUGE Theater and CSz Twin Cities) to author a book that crystallizes what we've learned about improvisation applied to business.

It's called Jill and Patrick's Small Book of Improv for Business. In a quick 108 pages, you can connect the dots between improv (the system and techniques we use to create our amazingly fast and funny comedy shows) and business (what you do, what we do, what everybody does offstage).

Improv is not just folks talking off the tops of their heads; it's a system of observing, connecting and responding, and applied to businesses, it can make a real difference in productivity, innovation, creativity, support and fun.

We've learned a lot of things training folks from companies like Nike, Intel, 3M, IBM, Apple (and more). And while we can't make all of the connections that you would make in our workshops, the Small Book can give you the top-level view of what we teach:

  • Listening

  • Accepting

  • Supporting

  • Risk-Taking

  • Stakes and Mistakes

  • Connecting

  • Enthusiasm

  • Effective Teams

  • Creating a Safe Space

"The power of Jill and Patrick's message is that it works.  I have seen their "play" reach hundreds of lives. There's a whole lot more possible when we lower our barriers and let the truth of what's in this book sink deep. They not only entertain audiences with improv, they live it. They work it. They teach it. They make us "corporate types" better because of it."

Melinda McGrath, TriQuint Semiconductor

Jill & Patrick's Small Book of Improv for Business gives you the straight info and about 20 exercises for individuals and groups; it's meant to be quick and insightful - without a lot of padding to make it look more important.

How to Buy This Important Book:

Yes And Your Customer Service

by Gijs van Bilsen, Joost Kadijk, Cyriel Kortleven with Patrick Short

Improvisation gives you tools so that you can work quickly and creatively in an ever changing world. This book teaches you not only the value of improvisation, but also how to put that value into practice. From an explanation of what improvisation is, to leading improvisation, to improvisation in multi-cultural teams. Whether you're a manager who wants to use the power of improvisation, or a trainer who wants to teach it to other people, this book will give you the theory and the tools to do just that. 

This Special Edition includes an additional chapter on Customer Service, written by Patrick Short.

  • Based on the author's scientific research

  • Over 70 exercises to experience and improve your improvisation skills

  • With contributions from 18 improvisational experts from all over the world

  • Learn how Customer Service is an opportunity, not a cost

  • Learn how one improv performance tool can unlock great Customer Service

How to Buy This Other Important Book:

Clients - a Partial List

Private Industry:

Kaiser Permanente
Columbia Sportswear
Thermo Fisher Scientific
Miller Nash
Western National Insurance
Farmer's Insurance
USA Pears
Apple Higher Education
Mentor Graphics
Reed Elsevier
Portland General Electric
Eli Lilly
TriQuint Semiconductor
McKesson Corporation
FedEx Ground
Nike Talent Development
Nike Innovation
Nike Emerging Markets Sales
Nike North America Brand Organization
Nike CRM
Nike North American Women's Training
Nike Foundation
Nike Global Tennis
Nike Global Socks
Nike Golf
Nike Global Legal
Nike Global Procurement
Nike Kids Footwear
Nike Employee Store
Niketown Marketing
Nike Sportswear
Nike Treasury and Risk Management
Nike Women's Training
Schnitzer Steel
Roberts Kaplan
Gevurtz Menashe
Huron Health
Knowledge Learning Corp / Kindercare
Key Bank / McDonald Financial
RS Medical
US Bancorp
Computer Associates
Portland & Gresham Food4Less
Leupold & Stevens
Robert Half, International
Jacobs Heating and Air Conditioning
Axium Software
Household International
RS Medical
24-Hour Fitness
Solvay Pharmaceuticals
Boise Cascade Office Products
Industrial Gasket, Inc.
Cadence (OrCAD)
Horizon Airlines
Stoel Rives LLP
Will Vinton Studios
KVO Advertising and Public Relations
Griggs-Anderson Research
Chrome Data Corporation
PacStar Communications

Public and Semi-Public:

Oregon Convention Center Staff
US Attorneys, Oregon District
Washington State Attorneys General
Oregon State Association of County Assessors
Multnomah County Aging, Veteran and Disability Services
Multnomah County Health
Oregon Corrections Enterprises
Camas Public Library
City of Dundee, Oregon
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Oregon Economic and Community Development
Tacoma/Pierce County Employment and Training Consortium
Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications (911)
Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency
TriMet Creative Services
TriMet Outreach and Public Relations
TriMet Sales and Marketing
Warm Springs Reservation Head Start
WorkSource (Pierce County, WA)
WorkSource (Longview, Kelso WA)
Oregon Commission on Children and Families
EOC (Head Start) of Clark County
Oregon Health Division
Tillamook Forest Center
USDA Forest Service


St. Luke's Medical System (Idaho)
Kaiser Permanente
Providence Elderplace
Providence Physician's Division
Providence Health System
Providence Portland Medical Center
Blood Systems Laboratories
SW Washington Medical Center
Wilsonville Dental Group
Mind Matters, PC
Richard Gillespie, DDS


Oregon Food Bank Portland Staff
Oregon Food Bank Statewide Network
Morrison Child and Family Services
Clark County Association of Realtors
United Cerebral Palsy
American Cancer Society - Camp Ukandu
Sunset Presbyterian Church
Village Baptist Church
Beaverton Foursquare Church
Oregon Post-Adoption Resource Center
NW Baptist Ministries
East Hill Church
Beaverton Community Theatre
Gladstone Baptist Church


Help Desk Institute
American Society for Training and Development
National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Association
Association of Public and Land Grant Universities


Portland Public Schools
Tucker Maxon School
Boomerang Project
Oregon Thespian Festival
Lincoln County SD
Albina HeadStart
PCC Rock Creek
Cascade Heights Charter School (Milwaukie)
Providence Montessori School
Portland State University
Oregon State University
University of Alaska-Anchorage
Yakima Valley Community College
Banks Elementary School
Conestoga Middle School (Beaverton)
Clatskanie HS Leadership
Kelso HS Drama
Kalama HS Journalism Class
Kalama HS/MS Faculty
Hermiston HS Faculty
Scappoose Schools Faculty
Westside Christian High School
Wilsonville Primary School Faculty
Hall Elementary Faculty, Gresham
Oregon Episcopal School
Grant HS (Portland)
Arthur Academy
Fruit Valley Foundation
Minds Matter (yes, it's different from Mind Matters)
Vancouver / Clark Parks and Recreation

What are Foundational Modules?

Foundational modules are workshops where your needs and goals are fairly straightforward, and the amount of pre-workshop prep for our team is minimal. These are workshops we've taught before; we've perfected the syllabi and are comfortable making changes during the workshop to fit the group's needs. Foundational modules are almost always a half-day or less, and the groups generally don't exceed 40-45 people, depending on the content (usually, they are less than 25 people).

There are standard fees for Foundational Modules, and the only other charges are travel and for a second presenter if needed. We charge by the half day, and are happy to quote by phone once we connect on your needs and goals.

What are Tailored Modules?

Tailored modules fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Advanced topics, like deep dives into Customer Service, Leadership or Presentation Skills

  • Full day or multiple meetings

  • A series designed and presented to one group

  • A series designed and presented to multiple groups from the same organization

  • Large groups - typically beginning around 45 people and/or 3 or more presenters

  • Complex logistics

  • Customized programs and topics

In these cases, we prep more and we charge more. It's not exponential, and we will quote by phone so you know the scope.

To discuss pricing and options, please contact Patrick Short at 503.236.8888 x4 or patrick (at) cszportland.com.