Business Improv: Turning the Ridiculous into Relevance
Sounds a bit weird, right? Can ridiculous comedy techniques help your business? If you have ever seen an improv comedy show, the last thing on your mind was probably, “Hey, that looks like it would be really helpful to me and my business.” After all, a typical improv comedy show will often have performers doing and saying some truly ridiculous things. However, the underlying skill-set that allows an improviser to do those ridiculous activities can be tremendously beneficial to any business or any professional.
What is Improv for Business Professionals?
Improv comedy is an art form where performers take the stage with nothing prepared in advance and then use audience suggestions to create comedy right there on the spot. Nothing is pre-planned. However, the performers have developed a skill-set that allows them to react in the moment very quickly to create comedy as they go.
The Improv for Business Professionals seminar is simply a business training program where business professionals are taken through a series of corporate improv games and exercises, taught the fundamentals of improv comedy and then shown how they can use the skills learned from those corporate improv games and exercises to improve their work and life and organization. If you have never seen improv comedy check out these videos.
Examples of a Corporate Improv Game / Exercise
If you’ve never seen an improv business seminar before, you might be a little confused. So here is an example of one my favorite corporate improv exercises. I’ve intentionally picked a simpler one that you can facilitate with your own group right away without needing an experienced improv facilitator.
The Two-Word Story:
Assign each person a partner and then have the pairs work together to create a story – each person contributing two words at a time. For example, the first person says, “Once upon” and the second person says, “a time.” The first person now says, “There was,” and so on and so on until they have a complete story. The end result is that the two people create a weird, wild, funny, and crazy story. (To see this game in action, check out this video).
The key here is that I tell them to go as fast they can and not overthink it, which is what leads to greater creativity and greater humor. I also tell them not to stop if either of them accidentally say three or four words. They should try to keep it to two. But it’s more important that they go with the flow than that they correct themselves.
There are many lessons you can pull out of playing this short improv game (it takes no more than a minute). You can talk about creativity. You can talk about collaboration. You can talk about dealing with change and getting unexpected results. You can talk about stress because some people feel stress playing this game. This simple improv exercise, which is funny, very easy, and fun to play has tremendous applications and benefits.
Benefits and Applications of a Business Improv Seminar
What are the benefits and applications of an improv business seminar? There are many.
- Improved Creativity and Innovation: Obviously, since improvisers are creating things on the spot with nothing prepared, they need to be creative. So by definition, business improv can help your team be more creative and innovative. Here’s an article on business improv that goes further into specific statistical benefits of using improv for greater innovation.
- Leadership: Improv leadership training is very popular simply because one of the best skills a leader can have is the ability to deal with the unexpected. It would be easy to be a great leader if everyone on your team agreed with you and always did what you said, and if everything in the world always went according to plan. The mark of true leadership is how you navigate those situations where things don’t go as planned or you get unexpected results. This is exactly what improv leadership training teaches.
- Reduced Stress: A big cause of stress is the fear of the unknown, the fear of the unexpected, and the fear of things not going as planned. With corporate improv training you learn to embrace uncertainty, you learn to make the most of the unexpected, and you really learn that “Hey, no matter what happens I can deal with it.”
- Dealing with Change: The world of improv is the world of change. Anyone who gets too fixed on one idea while performing improv is usually in big trouble. We need to be flexible and adaptable and deal with changes constantly. The same is true in the business world – change is a constant. People who have learned improv skills for business professionals will be much more effective in navigating those changes.
- Speaking: Improv comedy is performance. To do it well you have to stand in front of a group of people and essentially speak. One of the most powerful things I do as an instructor is show groups how improv comedy can help them be more effective speakers – not just how to deliver more effectively, but how to deal with changes in the program, how to deal with hostile audience members, how to think on your feet in tough situations, and how to be comfortable on stage. All these speaking skills are accomplished with improv skills.
- Better Teamwork: Improv at its core is a collaborative effort. You have a team of performers playing together. The skills of communication, give and take of control, and fundamentally making each other look good would help any business team.
Business improv is a powerful skill that you can use in your team, department, or organization to greatly improve creativity, decrease stress, improve leadership, more readily accept change, and many, many other things.
If you are interested in learning more here’s what you can do:
- Watch some of these videos to see what you can use right away.
- Or you could just simply start by contacting Avish now to ask him how improv might benefit you and your organization – no pressure, no stress, just a simple conversation and see where it goes from there.
By Avish Parashar. As the world's only Motivational Improviser, Avish uses techniques from the world of improv comedy to engage, entertain, and educate audiences on ideas around change, creativity, and motivation.
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