The Craft of Improv and the Art of Business Communication: Lunch-n-Learn Thursdays
by Jeff Livorsi
A fun and tasty Mightybytes tradition continues with delicious summer dishes and a discussion of how improv techniques can inform business communications.
Gretchen’s Seasonal Meal of Quiche, Pie and Summer Salads
Gretchen’s dishes were creative variations on recipes she’d found on the internet, although she was quick to warn us not to improvise when it comes to pie, as baking requires precise measurements and steps.
Here is what was on the menu, with links to the recipes:
How the Craft of Improv can Inform Business Communications
Experience Director, Peter led us through a series of excerises that he learned while developing his improv comedy chops in The Second CIty’s rigorous improv training program. Along the way, he led discussion about how these exercises can inform our business communication.
We started with a simple exercise of going around in a circle and asking a person seated to our right a random question (i.e. what’s your favorite color? What country/city would you like to travel to the most? etc.).
Some questions could be answered with a simple yes or no, while other questions sparked brief conversations and laughter as people responded in funny and surprising ways.
Peter explained that by asking questions and making conversation that we were improvising. That’s all improvising is.
Our next exercise started with a person making a statement, like “That’s a delicious looking pie” then calling out the name of another person at the table. That next person had to respond with the phrase “Yes, and…” followed by a statement that kept the conversation going. This technique is one that improvisers use to build on each others’ ideas. The “yes” forces people into supporting the idea and not killing it, while the “and” forces people to add to or expand upon the idea.
We made all of the jokes that we could about Gretchen’s pie, before moving onto new topics. When that shift occurred there were moments when participants found it difficult to begin their response with “Yes, and…” Peter explained that as improvisers gain experience they learn phrases that are equivalent to “Yes, and…” that keep the conversation going.
Next we turned the tables and instead of being able to say “yes, and…” we could only respond with the phrase “No, but…” After this exercise, we observed that being told no again and again not only feels bad but it also shuts down brainstorming and causes us to doubt our ideas.
Mightybytes prides ourself on setting both our clients and ourselves up for mutual success throughout the creative process. But these exercises gave us a few new techniques to consider when we want to give feedback on a creative decision, so that we can continue to foster collaboration.