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Improv teaches you how to wing it

How to communicate your ideas expressively, convincingly, and off the cuff

Most of us have been there – haven’t we? We’re happily ticking off our to-do list and then suddenly the boss asks you to present an update or idea to a prospect, the board, or a funding committee.

And the meeting room is booked for this afternoon. No time to put together a slick PowerPoint presentation.

What do you do? Do you fight, flight or freeze?

Or do you feel confident that you can deliver something quickly – on the fly?

Ok, you’ve stopped fuming. What next?

Once you’ve calmed down about being thrown in the deep end, you’ll realise that your boss has handed you a significant learning opportunity – the chance to build your muscle of spontaneity and gain tons of confidence in the process.

As someone who’s done improv for most of my life, there’s not many things in business that faze me.

I’m going to share why you don’t need to fight, flight or freeze, but instead feel free to put your best self forward by practising what you’ve learnt in improv.

Leave your imposter syndrome in the rain.
Improv has taught me that often our first response can be the right response. While we’re not given the luxury of time to prep, you can also see this as a blessing. You don’t have time to second guess and rip your ideas to shreds. You have no choice but to jump in and trust you know what you’re talking about.  And you do, otherwise your boss wouldn’t have put your name forward.

Observe how others express themselves.
When we’re in an improv workshop, we get to observe how others express themselves. Watch with an open mind how they stand, how they move their hands, and the pitch and pace of their speech. It’s not about copying others but trying out for size new ways of expressing yourself. How does confident look and sound? What about open and approachable body language? It’s much better to see it live in 3D than to be taught in a body language webinar. 

Plug into your inner genius and realise you already have (most of) the answers.
Thinking on our feet is a ‘soft’, transferrable skill that we can lose if we always have prep time and follow a script. Unfortunately, scripts can make us closed-off, robotic and stale.

Instead, improv teaches us how we can plug into our inner genius. We realise that we have the answers and that we can express them in a unique and personable way. A way that the board or your prospects may not have heard before, and therefore they trust that you’re the real deal – not just another person repeating the same, tired messaging.

Brainstorm with others.
Improv is all about building on the idea (or offer) that your partner has given you. Here you learn to ask “yes, and?”. So, if a work challenge has landed on your desk last minute, ask your boss and a few colleagues to have a quick brainstorming session and tap into the hive mind. 

Play with unusual scenarios and make new connections.
In improv you have no clue where the scene will lead you, so you have no choice but to buckle in and go with it. This may seem intimidating, but the payoff is you enlarge your imagination and make new connections. It’s only when we go off-piste that we start to experiment and take risks. And it’s this mindset that impresses others and makes you stand out from the crowd.


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