IMPROV FOR BUSINESS
Learn improv to improve business, relationships, communication, and much more! Dozens of top companies are finding that employees who laugh together stay together, produce more, invent more, and work more cohesively as a team. Bradford Swift, HRMagazine
Improvisers create scenes and acts without a script or the chance to revise their performances by taking audience suggestions and building stories, scenes, whole plays, on the spot.
In business, especially in these changing times, as business become more global, and there is less and less time to plan, it is so important to be quick on your feet! Improv is not just for comedy. Improv teaches business professionals how to react quickly during sales, negotiations, and any sort of business deal. You never know which way a sale or negotiation is going to go. Improv teaches you how to adapt very quickly to any given situation.
The greater the risk, the greater the necessity for trust. Improvisers risk humiliation in front of hundreds of people each time they perform a show. Customers can have even more at stake. A business person may be able to make a quick sale once by convincing a customer into buying something that does not meet their needs, but to have long-term success, he or she must be able to able to establish empathy and credibility.
Here are some ways to do just that:
- Get to know your audience- Intimacy breeds trust. Spend some time learning about the people you sell to. We do not like to reveal ourselves to people who do not reciprocate.
- Follow through - If you want to sell to a customer a second time, make sure you deliver at least as much as you promised the first time. (More if possible.)
- Create a safe environment - If you can lower the perception of risk, you will increase the willingness of others to engage. When possible, give customers a chance to test the waters.
- Make your partner look good - How can you help them sell the idea to their superiors? How can you help promote their agendas? Think of your customer as your partner. When he gets what she wants, you get what you want.
What many people label wit or cleverness in improvisation is simply a willingness to say whatever comes to mind. Spontaneity is the fuel of creativity. And creativity is at the heart of problem-solving. Problem-solving is, in turn, at the heart of a sales interaction. The best salespeople pay attention, trust their instincts, and go with the flow.
To increase your spontaneity:
- Be Silly - Creativity is, by definition, a departure from the status quo. You can always preface a suggestion with "I know this sounds crazy, but…" Try it before you reject it.
- Be Obvious - Sometimes we reject ideas because we believe they are not creative enough. By simply naming something you notice, you may uncover an important need or objection. Facial expressions and body posture tells us a lot. Trust your impulses when you think you see a clue.
- Celebrate Failure - In order to create, we must take risks. In order to take risks, we must be willing to fail. Bad ideas may spur great ones. Generate ideas collaboratively with your customers, and give a prize for the worst one.
Say YES and ...
Once we have taken the risk of offering up an idea, we must be willing to accept and build on it.
An improviser who forgets everything else can still perform well, simply by following the "yes, and" rule. If spontaneity is the fuel of creativity, saying "yes, and…" is the engine. It turns impulse into workable solutions. And it builds connection and trust along the way.
To improve your "yes, and-ing" skills:
- Remind yourself and your partners of the rules of brainstorming when generating ideas
- Separate idea generation from idea evaluation
- Quantity over quality
- Record without discussion
- Build on other's ideas
- Explore when and why you say "no" to ideas. Can you work through some of the blocks? Can you negotiate with your supervisors for more leeway? Who has the power to say "yes"? How can you encourage them to do so? Focus on underlying needs rather than specific solutions.
- Pay attention in your non-business contexts. How often do you say "no" there? Why? Say "yes" sometimes, just to see what will happen.
People love stories. That is why they read novels, watch television, go to the theater, and gossip. The appetite for stories in humans is nearly insatiable. So, improvisers work hard to become good storytellers. Stories are more than just entertainment, however. Stories deepen learning, enhance retention of information, and give us a context for all of our daily choices and activities.
- Frame Value - It is our job as sales people and business owners to link the features and benefits of our products to the needs of our customers. When we are evaluating a new product, service or option, our tendency is to see how it fits into the overall narrative of our lives. Talented sales people weave beautiful stories for us, showing us just how their offerings will lead to happy endings.
- Pique interest - No matter how brilliant your information is, if people are not engaged, they will not absorb it. Stories can be used to break the ice and establish credibility and empathy. They can add humor, suspense and drama. Look for opportunities to tell stories whenever you are presenting.
- Gather information - Stories can provide information about expectations, assumptions, and values. Have your customers share stories about their current situations and concerns.
Selling is an art. Take these tools, then, from the art of improvisation and apply them to your work. Trust yourself, and others will trust you. Take risks and you may discover genius. Work with your clients to develop relationships, and you will expand your range of selling opportunities. And the most important lesson? Have fun along the way.
Aardvark entertainment is committed to being able to provide many options of entertainment and teambuilding workshops. CONTACT US today and book our recommended professional improv comedians to help make your next sales meeting or event a huge success.