Did you know I do improv in my free time? It’s the JAM, friends.
I can honestly say, improv has taught me so much about business, all along the way.
For those of you who don’t know, improv is essentially performing and making things up on the spot. No prior preparation, no research, and no time to brainstorm and come up with ideas of what you might say or do.
About 4 years ago, I was looking for new challenges and stumbled across an improv comedy class.
The thought alone often terrifies people but in the hands of a good facilitator, improv can actually be used to manage anxiety. And it’s not just for wannabe actors or stand ups. For those of you who have no desire to get up on a stage, improv workshops on their own can boost your personal and business development.
Here are just 3 of the business lessons that practicing improv has taught me.
1. Opportunities are everywhere – it’s your job to look out and make the most of them
In improv, the strongest perfomers are constantly listening, looking and paying attention to what others are saying and doing. The best and often most original scenes tend to be ones where a tiny detail has been picked up on and an idea developed.
This skill is transferable. If you learn to pay attention to the people and world around you, you’ll find a lot of new opportunities. It might be a client complaining about one of their projects that has nothing to do with you but might inspire a new idea for a service that you could offer.
2. Listening is harder (and rarer) than you think
One of the basic and key skills for a good improviser is listening. Sounds simple but after 4 years of experience, I’ve learned that this is NOT something most people are good at. Often we’re thinking about what we’re going to say next (or what we want to the other person to hear) rather than truly paying attention and reacting to other people. I see this happen at networking events all the time.
It also happens in sales and client meetings. A business or individual is trying so hard to impress or thinks that they know best so they fail to pick up on what someone really wants or what interests and worries are truly behind their questions.
If you want to make better connections and more sales, you need to start genuinely listening and focus on what others are saying.
3. Failing isn’t as bad as you think
Improv is great for building a positive and resilient mindset because you can’t really make mistakes. If you don’t have a script, you can’t get the words wrong. Some of the funniest moments I’ve ever seen or been a part of are when someone has made what others might consider a mistake. You can’t give up mid scene so you just make it work and the audience are more impressed than if you had been super slick!
In business, we might not end up where we thought we would. But if we keep going, build on whatever happens and treat “failure” as simply a new opportunity, we might end up somewhere even better.
Would you ever try improv? Leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation!
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