Using improvisation theater in your presentations

2016 HIP imrov theatre workshop

Some years ago, Frédérique was captivated by theatrical improvisation technique, which she finds an inspiring and compelling tool for personal development, leadership, change management, team building, creativity, and communication skills development. Improvisation Theater is the art of acting without script or props – making everything up on the spot, in real time, following a set of rules and practices such as focusing on the here and now and making the most out of what is available at the moment to achieve the intended goal.

Key-competencies of an improvisational actor are also important to anyone working in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world (sometimes abbreviated as VUCA), such as the ability to let go of the initial plan, listening to others’ ideas, building on them, and exploring unconventional solutions.

At the beginning of the workshop Frédérique shared with us some insights she had while learning improvisation theater. And because talking about it is no substitute for the experience, you had the opportunity to take part in some improvisation exercises. We tested ourselves how body language shapes our mind, feeling unsecure with a hunched posture and confident when we made eye contact with others.


Frédérique Thiriet-Smith, a HIP member from the beginning, is a French national who has lived in Heidelberg, Germany since 1999. She has worked in international companies for over 30 years, successfully leading multicultural and virtual teams facilitating change, skills development and knowledge exchange on a worldwide scale.


Picture: Drive-In Theatre by Tim Mossholder on, Creative Commons Zero licence

Networking, Energy & Connection at the First HIP Carousel

2015 HIP Carousel

What looked like a trade fair, it was an event with a unique intention and a friendly atmosphere. And that made all the difference in the quality of the HIP Carousel: International Women at Work event last Saturday, October 17, 2015.

The intention was: service to others.  How can we share all we have learned to spur other women on to reaching their dreams. Over 150 people, including participants and volunteers, showed up and took part in the first ever event like this by HIP. HIP Founder Shuchi Sharma and HIP Founding Member Fabiana Bianchi joined for the day, leading the round table discussions and provided inspiring beginning and ending speeches for the day.

Held in the DAI’s Grand Hall the event was organized around different themes and areas.

The Business Owner section was the largest – 19 tables of independent women sharing their experiences of building a business.

2015 HIP Carousel business owners entrepreneuers


The Corporate, Academic and the Sciences table brought the combined experience of dozens of women to our visitors.  Our members shared the obstacles they faced and the resources they discovered as they develop their careers. We’re hoping our visitors will be able to apply those lessons immediately.

2015 HIP Carousel corporate, academia & science women table



The two Round Table discussions covered Work/Life Balance and presented and compared the advantages of being self-employed with those who are employed.

2015 HIP Carousel podium discussions

What were some of the highlights from those discussions?

  • One thing everyone agreed on was that the learning acquired while working in a company can pay off handsomely when you decide to go self-employed.
  • That the structure an employer provides, as well as a regular income, are a huge plus in terms of security and peace of mind.
  • That starting your own business is not for the faint at heart, but provides enormous flexibility to schedule your working hours to suit your needs.
  • That being your own boss comes with a liberating feeling of doing what you love, the way you want to do it.

A series of mini-presentations, individuals telling their stories throughout the day, was a real crowd-pleaser. Held in the “Living Room’ these were more personal accounts of lessons learned.  The more intimate format fostered connection and group discussion.

2015 HIP Carousel podium discussions and short presentations

There was also an Information Area where the IHK StarterCenter Rhein-Neckar, the DAI Heidelberg and the Amt für Chancengleichheit from Stadt Heidelberg were present to share their expertise.

2015 HIP Carousel IHK


Gloria Miller, a HIP member and founder of her own Management and IT consulting company, challenged everyone in the morning to up their professional networking, giving us some clear objectives to aim for throughout the event.  As she wrapped up, she demonstrated her own application of those guidelines and shared her takeaways from the day.

2015 HIP Carousel Claudia Miller


From the first cords of Chopin, played by our very own HIP member Barbara Janssens, to the warm applause as we closed the event at 16:30, the Grand Hall was filled with buzz, exchange, connection and people helping people.  HIP clearly achieved the goals we set for ourselves in building the HIP Carousel.

2015 HIP Carousel Barbara Janssens


We say again a big thank you to our partners, sponsors and volunteers without whom we could not have held this amazing event!

Please browse the photo gallery below. Should you want to order any of the photos or see the full gallery, please contact HIP Member Dorothée Piroëlle.


2015 HIP tour at the BASF

I believe I am pretty well informed about what’s going on in the Rhine-Neckar area – but I have lived here and had never heard of the BASF Visitor Center and all the cool things they offer. So thanks to HIP for organizing this! For this special occasion HIP members brought their family, children included.  It was an opportunity to see a global company from the inside. 

On June 13th 2015 we met at The BASF Visitor Center for a special welcome and introduction before our bus tour; kids were able to launch a rocket or learn what a superabsorbent is (yes, that’s what in the diaper of your little siblings).

During the tour Ms Rudloff, our English speaking guide, showed us the inner workings of this giant industrial plant which has such a large impact on this area and the world.  It was interesting to see the sheer size of this conglomerate and learn about how it ticks. The bus tour was informative and you really got a feeling for the size: the Ludwigshafen site covers more than ten square kilometers, making it the world’s largest integrated chemical facility. There are thousands of bikes, several buses and train stops. But we also learned a lot about the history and products. Everybody who was there will remember what the letters in BASF stand for but also which smell is characteristic for BASF 🙂 Will you ever look at a bubbly drink again and not think ‘the bubbles in there are a waste product from BASF’?

Following this excursion we had another hour to explore and discover the new Visitor Center: 2000 square meters of multi-media and interactive exhibits – either to explore some more things or network while their kids enjoyed the experiments.

We learned more about chemistry, business and the people that make it happen! It was a great day out and gave us much food for thought. Thanks to the HIPsters who suggested it and made it happen!

Getting a first-hand experience with this rich exhibit center will surely entice you to come back again! Check out the Visitor Center website (in German) to plan what you want to focus on.

By the way – the bus tour takes place once a month and anyone can visit the Visitor Center… Check it out!

I will definitely return for the kids’ lab, which also takes place once a month. How about combining the Visitor Center, bus tour and kids’ lab? You’ll be exhausted, but you have learned a lot!

See here for more information about the Family Program in the Kids’ Lab (in German).

Kerstin Lambert, HIP Steering Committee Member

Do More of the Things You Love!

2015 HIP event

Over 20 women joined the HIP Event “Do More of the Things You Love!” with guest speaker Helge Thomas. After networking and chatting at the beginning of the event, Helge presented us his life story – sharing his most important influencers, including the people and events in his life, the music, books and films which left a major impact.

From a steady job in the insurance business, passing through theater, various jobs and a post as Creative Director at ProEvent, Helge has come full circle to the one activity which makes him forget time: film. Making movies.

Along the way he has learned to embrace his own identity as a ‘scanner’ – someone with multiple interests and capabilities. He is now always searching for the state of ‘flow’ which signals to him his total engagement in what he does.

Helge encouraged everyone to pay attention to what makes us tick, respect what brings us fulfillment and trust that our skills and qualities are there to guide us to our life’s purpose.

Date: Saturday, April 25, 2015

LocationHelmstätter Herrenhaus, Heidelberg

See the gallery below for photos from the event. All photos by HIP Member Dorothée Piroelle. Should you be interested in having a high resolution version of any of the photos, please contact HIP Steering Committee Member Christine Funke.

The Importance of Building Your Own Brand

2015 HIP Shuchi Sharma building your own brand

Over 35 women from the Rhine Neckar region gathered together on International Women’s Day on March 8th to listen to a presentation from Regina Mehler, founder and CEO of the Women Speaker Foundation based in Munich. She has executive marketing experience in the IT and communications fields for over twenty years, and is the author of the book The Phoenix Effect.

Shuchi Sharma Heidelberg International Professional Women's ForumThe late morning event started off with about 45 minutes of networking and then introductions delivered by HIP Steering Committee Head Cheryl Sweeney and HIP Founder Shuchi Sharma. Shuchi told the story of the founding of the HIP Women’s Forum and mentioned the famous quote by Madeleine Albright, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Both touched on the uniqueness of the day and the opportunity for the group to be able to get together to support each other.

Shuchi then introduced Regina who spoke without slides (to everyone’s appreciation!) and discussed her background, how she came up with the title for her book (from a poll from friends and colleagues), her experiences in becoming a keynote speaker, and finding other women and helping them to stand out as speakers with expertise in their fields.

With the Women Speaker Foundation she has created a dynamic pool of women from which large and small companies can find ideal speakers for their events, conferences and meetings. She reiterated that, through this journey, she has stuck to the idea that if we come across something we don’t like, we need to mention it and talk about it, and that has guided her to mission to get more women in speaking engagements and influencing positions in companies.

Her 5 points for building your own brand are:

  1. Say yes
  2. Define your expert level
  3. Do your own marketing
  4. Practice
  5. Network

Regina Mehler at the Heidelberg International Professional Women's Forum EventThroughout her talk, she took questions from the audience and encouraged dialogue from attendees. Topics like social media branding, importance of your clothing and style in presenting your self, and building a sound support group all came up during the one and a half hour presentation.

The women attending thoroughly enjoyed the speech and appreciated Regina’s approachable manner, sound advice and powerful message. Networking and chatting resumed after the presentation.

Date: Sunday, March 8, 2015

Location: Conference Room at the ADAC, Heidelberg, through the generous sponsorship of the Deutsche Bank

See the gallery below for photos from the event. Should you be interested in having a high resolution version of any of the photos, please contact HIP Steering Committee Member Christine Funke.


Making Sense of Your Professional Finances

2015 personal finances

We were excited to launch our 2015 HIPWF program with getting a head start on our finances! In our first meeting of the year, we received advice on good principles of personal finance as well as ideas on how to set up a few easy bookkeeping options for your business.

Tracie Marquardt and Marjorie Simon-Meinefeld, with expertise in the audit, finance and legal fields, made dynamic presentations to help us see some of the basics more clearly. They gave us some clever techniques, tools, tips and tricks to help us all better understand the processes of managing our professional finances.

Marjorie focused on personal financial know-how and Tracie shared her bookkeeping system. They finished by answering attendees’ questions and started a launching pad for further discussions about tax consulting and getting “healthy and wealthy.”

Tracie has put her background as a Canadian Chartered Professional Accountant to good use since launching her training and coaching business, Quality Assurance Communication, in 2013. Tracie developed her own bookkeeping system that thus far seems to satisfy her tax accountant and the HD Finanzamt.

Marjorie is a military veteran, trained chef, and legal expert for the US government. She has studied the principles of personal financial management for over 20 years and regularly puts them into practice for herself, her family and her business, Anything Vegan, which she co-owns with her sister in the US.

Date: Saturday, January 31, 2015

Location: Perkeo Restaurant, Heidelberg

Holiday Cheer: A Christmas Party

2015 christmas

It was time for our annual gathering, a Christmas party—a moment to relax, share and launch the Christmas season with friends and fellow HIP members. We try to gather as much of our group as possible and provide the opportunity to spend some quality time with no fixed agenda.

Back by popular demand we held our ritual White Elephant gift exchange. Everyone contributed with a gift for €10 or less, and all attendees went home with a funny or heartfelt gift.

Besides this light hearted exchange, we also shared a bit more of ourselves. Everyone told their New Year’s Resolution (or Resolutions!) and we cheers’d to achieving personal and professional goals in 2015.

We wrapped up 2014 and unwrapped 2015 – unveiling for you the diverse lineup of events and speakers coming next year for your professional growth and personal pleasure! Stay tuned and check out our Upcoming Events calendar. Hope to see you at an event soon!

Date: Sunday, December 7, 2014

Location: Helmstätter Herrenhaus

TED Talks: Ideas Worth Spreading

November’s HIP gathering introduced you to an endless resource. Be it encouragement, specific tips on successful professional competences, daring or inspiration, at TED there is something for everyone.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks captured on video (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

We had selected just a few clips which we showed and used to ignite the type of debate our HIP members love to engage in.  Either pragmatic or provocative, everyone had the opportunity to share their opinions, discover new ways of seeing things and learn concrete tips to help them advance in building their professional and personal selves.

Members shared just how much TED has helped them take huge strides towards their own goals and fulfillment. Find all of the TED Talks here:

Date: Saturday, November 8, 2014