Imagine it. You’re in a group setting at a social event. You utter the most marvelous aside that is heard by all present. The group erupts laughing and one person is even wiping tears away from their eyes. You stand there and enjoy the glory. Before you go to bed, you replay the scene a few times, enjoying every moment, feeling amused and laughing to yourself.
These are the moments that we all love. Attending improv comedy classes provide a chance to improve this skill, but also improves the following skills that can be applied to business. What’s not to like!?!
1) Keep building on ideas.
One exercise that is done in the improv class is called ‘Yes… and’. The purpose of this exercise is to build on what was just said. For example ‘We should go to McDonalds to get a hamburger’ will then be built on such as ‘yes, we should go to McDonalds for a hamburger, and then get an apple pie for dessert.’ Agreement with your partner is required and then you add to it.
This exercise is about being positive and adding to the last idea. In business, sometimes the first instinct can be to look for a negative as to why something shouldn’t be done. This improv exercise means you have to be open to ideas, instead of looking to shut them down and it can bring some exciting results to the boardroom as it becomes apparent that any idea can be a good idea, it may just need moulding.
2) Don’t plan too far ahead.
There are occasions where we’re given a situation to play act such as, “You’ve arrived at Central Station in New York… Go!” In my mind, I’m planning to be a commuter who is under stress about getting home to his pregnant wife. But then one of my partners says, “Hey, look it’s a homeless man with just one arm sitting on a skateboard.”
Being caught off guard like that and having to think on your feet is a good brain exercise. Planning ahead proves to be futile and being fully tuned into the group is essential to respond well. Although it’s good to plan for the future, sometimes being in the ‘now’ is far more effective.
3) Keep it simple.
Simple skits often prove to be the best ones. Children in a candy store, a student preparing for an exam or a couple of men at a 49ers game. The more complex ones usually aren’t quite so popular with the audience and can result in forced applause.
Simple ideas are far easier to understand and relate to in the business world too. Although sophistication may be appealing, it’s not always what is best for a business. Improv is the reminder that sometimes ‘simple’ is the best way.
4) Be comfortable with no script.
When presentations are being delivered, most people have access to note cars or have access to a script. They will know what they’re about to say, and know that if they could do it on the fly it would actually be far more engaging for the audience.
Improv just doesn’t have a script. You are also never entirely sure what will come out of your mouth. But that easiness makes it possible to feel far more relaxed on stage and to leave the main script when necessary.
5) Be confident.
If there’s something that I’ve learned from improv it’s that it’s not always what you say, it’s sometimes about how you say it. Although you may have the funniest line ever in your mind, if you deliver it with a quiet and nervous voice, it won’t make the right impact. By thinking about posture and delivery of the message / humor in addition to the content, it can be received so much better. Displaying confidence makes all the difference.
Improv classes can be amusing and fun, but they can also improve on skills that are used in the workplace. Isn’t it time you do the Improv Dojo?