Business and Personal Benefits of Improv

Attend an improv class.  It’s not about becoming a comedy performer.  It’s not even about becoming a better speaker.  The skills you learn in an improv workshop will be applied to all parts of your life.  They provide building blocks for business success.  Improv skills teach you to have more fun in life.

1.  Build Your Confidence.  In life, the prize often goes not to the fast but to the bold.  Not to the quick but to the confident.  Improv training boosts your confidence.  It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve done.  I haven’t tried everything.  I haven’t climbed a rock cliff.  I haven’t been in a marathon.  I haven’t jumped out of a plane.  But I had conquered my fear of public speaking and had performed as a stand up comedian before jumping into the improv arena.  And in spite of my experience, I found it to be the most challenging thing I had ever done.  Whenever you are personally challenged, it builds your confidence.  You become a better risk taker.  You learn to fail gracefully.  It gives you confidence.  And confidence enhances your performance and competence in the eyes of others.

2.  Stimulate Your Creativity.  Creativity is sometimes the result of talent.  Often it is the product of confidence.  Improv training can help in both areas.  Improv teaches you to be open to possibilities and see the alternatives.  You become less rigid and more flexible.  You learn to piggyback on the ideas of others to create new possibilities.

3.  Build Strong Teams.   You’ll learn strong skills in agreement and consensus.  The improv principle of YES AND teaches you to agree with others and to add to that agreement.  You will also understand that YES does not mean you agree, it simply means that you hear the other person.  It moves you forward.  BUT is an eraser and stops forward progress.  You learn to treat others as though they were a genius.  You develop the habit of going with the flow and trusting the group.  Learn to say yes to at least one stupid idea a week.  That, of course, is an impossible challenge.  There is no such thing as a stupid idea.  Improv games are also great for mixers and introductions. 

4.  Sharpen Leadership Skills.  An amazing thing I’ve learned after presenting improv workshops for more than ten years is this:  There is no such thing as a weak improv player.  There are only skilled improv planers who are not skilled enough to make the weaker players look good. When a worker has substandard performance, the question is: Are YOU good enough to lead, motivate, and work with them.  You are responsible.  Make them look good.  Bring out their best.  This isn’t a gimmick.  This is a reality of life.  The responsibility and power lies with you.  Lead by example. What would the world be like if everyone was present for you, if everyone listened to you, if everyone treated you like a genius, if everyone agreed with you, if everyone trusted you.  What would it be like if each of your employees experienced that kind of world. It’s your job to be the “someone” who creates that experience for them.  Every choice you make affects other people.  Improv gives you a better understanding of that view of life.

5.  Have Fun in the workplace.  A workplace with no play is usually rigid and inflexible.  Improv teaches you to play.  Use it to start the day playing a game with your team.  Use improv games to warm up before a meeting or brainstorm session.

6.  Develop Listening skills.  Listening is more than hearing.  Listening is also watching.  Listening is understanding. Communication is more than facts.  Communication is watching for feelings and intention.  Improv teaches you that often you contribute by NOT saying something.