On three occasions in the last month I have met people who have referenced stuff they learned from the rules and structure of improvisational comedy. Once is rare, twice, is an interesting coincidence, but, three times is a pattern that is worth looking into. So, I researched the rules of improv comedy and learned some stuff that you may agree has an interesting application to business success.
"We discovered that not only does improvisation provide a way to understand what it takes to be spontaneous and innovative, but exercises used by actors to develop their skill can be adopted by business as a means to experience and enhance individual and organizational capacity to be innovative and responsive." Mary Crosson
There were several articles out there about the rules of successful improvisation. The following ideas were found on the www.improvencyclopedia.org website. Here are just a few key improv rules and my business applications.
Tell a story- Comedians begin with a story, the time, place, characters of a story by way of context for their message. You begin by sharing your story. Who you are and what you can do for people with your business.
Help people relate to your story- It’s only funny because people can relate to the story. You don’t actually have to be funny to be successful. The more you can relate to the problem or situation, the funnier it is to you. So, the more people can relate to the problem you solve with your business, the more they can relate to you.
Yes and- The scene is over when you reach a no. Comedians try to keep the yes ball up in the air for as long as they can so they can keep the scene going. ‘There is an elephant in the hallway’. If you said no there isn’t; the scene is over. If you say ‘Yes, but where did they find a sweater that large for him to wear”, the scene is still alive. How can you keep the ‘Yes and…’ alive in your sales conversation?
About your partner- There were a lot of rules about your improv partner. Listen to them, make them look good; give them information to help them out. In fact, it looks like one of the secrets of successful improvisation is to be more focused on the partner than on you. Too often we forget that the customer is our partner and for them to make us look good, we need to make them look good.
Have fun and relax- The audience loves to watch someone having fun. The customer wants to work with someone who is having fun. Love what you do and people will love you for doing it.
Sooner is better than later. Do it now- Great improvers see the opportunity and take advantage of it in the moment, when the timing is right and the opportunity is ripe. When an opportunity pops up, take it. Don’t talk about it. Do it!
You don’t have to be funny to be an effective improver!