Looking back at projects I have been working on the last few months, one thing that jumps out is the importance — and challenge — of keeping not just messages fresh, but yourself, too. You have to keep learning new tricks in order to present information in new and effective ways. It seems like every new tool you learn how to use, leads you to another. Frankly, I love learning new things. This month alone I have added these new skills:
- started a new newsletter via MailChimp — which was also a new program for me. I use another program I inherited for another organization, but I am totally in love with MailChimp now. I am still mastering some of the size issues on graphics, but was pleased to learn how I can re-send emails to people who didn’t open the first email. Not that I am a Glenn “I’m not going to be ignored” Close stalker, but by gosh I will resend an email to non-openers at least once.
- completed a company newsletter and improved my InDesign skills. Check out the newsletter at Newsletter Summer 2017.
- learned a super smart way to use Google Doc’s talk-to-text feature to take real-time meeting minutes. I just learned about the talk-to-text feature which I was using to transcribe interviews, but had not thought to use it for meeting minutes within an ongoing meeting until I saw it being done on a conference call. Genius! Because, let’s face it, meeting minutes are just an awful, awful thing, but so sadly necessary. It’s just a fact of life.
If you’ve ever been to a good improvisation show, you’ve probably wondered how these comedic geniuses manage to come up with delightful, unique responses that captivate. The reality is their work — and it is work — is based upon not just talent but principles of scene building that also apply to good business dynamics. Taking improv comedy classes can make you see new ways to present information in business. Plus, it’s just fun and you’ll get to meet and interact with some of the funniest people you’ll ever know.
I once had the pleasure of taking a few improv classes in Hollywood. Years later, those lessons of scene building still resound and apply to any professional endeavor. Here is the Number One lesson learned from improv comedy:
YES AND vs NO BUT
“Yes” is a very powerful word. Combine it with “and” in a brainstorming meeting at work, and you might end up with enchanting results. When students first try doing improv scenes together without rules in place, often one person will have an idea where they want to go with the scene — but another person has another idea. Improv comedy shuts down when one person takes over the scene by saying, “No/But” and taking the character or situation in a direction that conflicts with a previous statement. Whenever you see a “but” someone is denying someone else’s words or ideas. If others in the same scene “but” back, the work can just come to a grinding, unproductive halt. Just like at the office. Neither situations are fun for anyone.
When you commit to saying “Yes and” instead of “No but” automatically to ideas, it opens up your world to truly inspiring opportunities. Why? Because it forces your team to listen to each other. In order to add new information, participants have to hear what is being said in the first place, and then dig deep to find that new bit of information that will add to what was presented. It works in improv and it works in business, too.
Indeed, “Yes” is a powerful word. People love to hear “Yes” whereas when they hear “No” reflexively it can cause them to stop trying. Add an “and” to your “Yes” with new information and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. Want to see how it works for yourself? Sign up for some basic improv comedy classes near you. There are even more excellent scene building rules that will burnish your professional skills. And, again, you’ll have a really good time while learning how to be a better listener and team player at work.