What Improv Taught Me About Business

“With improv, it’s a combination of listening and not trying to be funny.” – Kristen Wiig

I discovered how true that statement is when I took my first improv class recently. Improv has always been on my bucket list, but fear held me back. The inner critic was saying “you’re not funny, you don’t have any acting experience, you’re going to make a fool of yourself.”

The Power of “Yes, And”

Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costolo, credits his improv training with his ability to think big and make courageous choices.

What could be more important in business or in life?

I’ve been fascinated with improv for a long time, so I signed up for an intro class. I walked in with sweaty palms and walked out with tools that will serve me in every aspect of life including:

  • Listen – Improv is unscripted, so your next move depends on your scene partner’s action. If you try to plan your next line, the scene loses its natural flow. By being fully present and listening, your next move becomes natural and it eliminates the fear.
  • Trust – Improv teaches you to think on your feet. But there are moments your mind will be blank. Instead of panicking and thinking that you won’t know what to say or do, trust that the answer will come. It always does.
  • Let go of fear – This may be the hardest lesson to learn because fear is such a powerful force. In improv (and in life) you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to have critics, but you have to go for it anyway. In order to move forward you have to let go and get over the fear. After all, that’s where the reward is.
  • Yes, And – Improv encourages you to say “yes, and…” in order to build a conversation or scene. The second you say “no,” the action stops. Where are you saying “No” or “Yes, but…”? Now, imagine what would happen if you shifted those answers to “Yes, and…”

Ready to give improv a try? Check out the Rock Your Story workshop and learn how improv can help you on stage and in life.

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