Improve through Improv

improvPeppercomm is one of the few firms that actively embraces stand-up comedy and improv training. We do so for multiple reasons including building teamwork, improving presentation skills and changing our employees’ mindsets.

The latter is key because we live in a world of improvisation where the fleet survive and laggards, well, they don’t do so well (Kodak and RIM are just two examples).

I believe an organization that has comedy in its DNA has an unfair competitive advantage. That’s because, in times like ours when change comes in the blink of an eye, professionals who have been trained in improv will go with the flow, listen better and adapt more quickly.

We certainly have. But don’t just listen to me. Here’s what three employees said about their recent improv workshop:

– Sarah Sanzari: “It forces us to think on our feet. That can be applied to almost everything we do: media pitching, client calls, presentations, etc. It helps eliminate any nervousness.”

– Trisha Bruynell: “What we saw throughout our training session was that the most successful teams were those who were best at LISTENING under pressure and not talking under pressure.”

– Richard Ouyang: “Mindfully providing a ‘Yes, and…’ opportunity for colleagues to contribute to the story the group is collectively creating provides a stronger sense of team.” (Editor’s note: The ‘Yes, and’ exercise is a cornerstone of improvisational comedy training.)

Last, but not least, I asked Clayton Fletcher, Peppercomm’s chief comedy officer to weigh in. (Editor’s note: Clayton is one of only two chief comedy officers in the Western world. The other works for a nuclear power plant in Estonia where, one assumes, laughs are only exchanged in-between meltdowns.) Fletcher: “Every organization that values openness and creativity should incorporate improv into their management training.”

I’d go a step further. Improv is a game-changer and creates the infrastructure necessary for swift, effective change. While you may doubt its effectiveness, I say embrace improv or else. The brand you save may be your own.

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