In my previous post on improv, I said about improv,
“It requires thinking on one’s feet. More importantly, it requires working with the other actors in the scene — each player must be able to respond to and lead the others with lines and actions that enhance the scene and make it entertaining for the audience.”
For that to work, improv actors must develop a critical skill: deep listening skills accompanied by the ability to act on what one hears, not based on personal biases or experience. This type of deep listening is an essential skill for anyone in business.
I call on my improv training when I teach, give a presentation, or run a meeting. The skills that I use the most, I use unconsciously and repeatedly.
Consider teaching a course (which you know by now that I’ve done for Learning Tree for over 30 years).
To make it even more interesting, she referred to stories I’d told them. She just knew what I’d say.It is that kind of trust that improv helps build or perhaps helps gives the internal strength to rely on that trust.
When I lead a meeting or facilitate a discussion, it’s a lot like an improv game. The biggest difference is that some people prepare for the topic at hand. A facilitator has to keep the group on track and manage the event without taking sides or trying to influence the decision. The “Yes, and” improv game is good training for this.
Teambuilding and onboarding events benefit especially from the actual learning of improv as well as from the practicing of it. As people learn improvisational skills, they learn to develop the deep listening skills in a fun way. It sure beats the traditional role plays.
Likewise, they learn to trust their (new) co-workers. As they learn to listen and deliver subsequent dialog and actions, they learn to trust those who deliver lines that precede theirs to feed them lines they can use and build upon. If the games are chosen well, the experiential learning can be enjoyable not just for those “performing,” but for the “audience” as well.
First, please tweet me at @jjmcdermott and tell me about your improv experiences.
Second, consider taking an improv class if you haven’t. It’s a fun and valuable experience.
Finally, think about improv training for your team or group. It really does help build team strength.