I teach improv and my 15 year old daughter cannot make eye contact. For a Mom who considers eye contact one of the most critical steps to connecting with others, this scares me. You know what else scares me? She is petrified to express herself in school. She tells me that the very thought of raising her hand in class to ask a question sends her to a near panic attack.
I’m the first person to proudly proclaim that improv skills are good for everyone, doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. Improvisation provides a life changing set of skills. So, that’s my disclaimer. The following are just three capacities that are on my hot list right now. They’ll be more to come, you can count on it.
When learning how to improvise for stage, you learn quickly that you MUST be kind in order to succeed. If you are not nice to your partners, then your scenes will fall apart. It's like the structure of improv was built to hold up only when and if people are being nice to one another. It is no surprise that some of the very basic building blocks of improvisation are: listening, agreement, putting others before yourself, empathy, trust and getting each other's back. Imagine running that checklist through your mind at work or in a social setting.
Fear is tricky. We are taught from a very early age to color inside the lines. In business environments, fear comes in many forms; fear of being judged, fear of sharing your ideas, fear of innovation and fear of the unknown. With all that fear, it’s no wonder people are stressed out and miserable much of the time. The weight of constant fear impairs your ability to reach your goals and basically paralyzes you. This sounds excruciating.
Another year is coming to a close and companies are faced with planning yet another exciting holiday party. You want to close the year out with a fun and memorable event. Your people have worked hard and you want to reward them with something different. You’ve already done the Dave and Buster’s thing, having it at the CEO’s house is not an option and karaoke has just worn out its welcome.
You're in a pickle.
The art of sales is a lot like the art of improv. Both disciplines require training and practice in heightened communication skills. They also require a vulnerability, wherein participants put themselves out there, hoping to succeed, but with no guarantee. Neither improv nor sales is easy, and achieving success in either one is a satisfying accomplishment. Because of my dual careers as an improv performer and as a salesperson, I learned almost all of the successful techniques cross-over. I want to share 3 important lessons that I took from the stage to my sales work which elevated my career and made selling a hell of a lot easier.
During my years working in the staffing industry, questions about a company’s culture came up a lot. Staffing companies play an important role as the liaison between prospective candidates and the company doing the hiring. A company’s culture is a critical piece in enticing talent to want to work at a particular company. I was always amazed at how many companies undervalued their culture.
Business and comedy have historically remained on opposite sides of the fence; however, we are starting to see a shift in our world of shorter-than-ever attention spans. Companies are starting to realize that content marketing, and more specifically the online content featured on their YouTube channels, Facebook and Twitter feeds is one of their biggest selling tools. Customers today want to be entertained not informed.
When I left the corporate world, I took with me experiences of working in a variety of cultures and environments. I know firsthand how fear in a work environment can strip you of all creativity and innovation. I can relate to the timid faces of coworkers in a staff meeting scared to say anything for fear of being shot down or dismissed.