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Mike Orren Ignite Dallas Improv "Yes And" Preso

Part of Global Ignite week 2010.

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The basis of all improv * : ,[object Object],* This talk is no substitute for real  training
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Mike Orren Ignite Dallas Improv "Yes And" Preso

  • 1.
  • 2. Need an example of a horrible product you wouldn’t want to buy
  • 3.  
  • 5.  
  • 6.
  • 7.
  • 8.
  • 9.  
  • 10. You have to listen Master specificity!
  • 11. To amplify something you weren’t planning for, you have to be creative
  • 12. This doesn’t mean that all ideas are good
  • 13. Take it into a real-world interaction at work with a “partner” who doesn’t know the game Excelsior !
  • 14. Most business interactions are “No, but…”
  • 15.
  • 16. Have some fun with your boss Nothing throws them off-guard like agreement!
  • 17. Um, you really need to work late to finish that TPS report, mmk? Yes-- Absolutely. In fact, I also need to work on my 360-degree review forms Can’t get too far ahead on those. Well, now, that’s not due for some time. No need to get ahead of ourselves. Oh. That’s all right. In fact, I’ll recruit the rest of the department to chip in. We’ll do it especially for you!
  • 18. Use your “and” to help your partner see the absurdity Remember our bad product?
  • 19.
  • 20.

Editor's Notes

  1. At the beginning of this year, I fulfilled my longtime resolution of taking an improv class. And while it was as fun as I expected it to be, I was surprised at the new insights it brought into my business communications. I’m going to share some of that with you tonight.
  2. In the spirit of Improv: quickly-- I need an example of the most terrible product in the world. ….
  3. I recently finished a 6-week level one class at Dallas Comedy House. The fellow in black-and-white is our instructor, Clay. We went from knowing nothing to performing scenes on our own and even jamming late Wednesday nights with some pros.
  4. The method we were taught has a long history. It was started as a training tool by noted stage director Viola Spolin in the early 1950s and carried forward by Del Close, who trained everyone from Jim Belushi to Mike Myers.
  5. Even when scripted before airtime, this is the same method used to create the sort of work you see on Saturday Night Live; Christopher Guest films like Spinal Tap; the Colbert Report and even in the confrontational comedy of Sacha Baron Cohen.
  6. The core concept of this method is encapsulated in the phrase: “Yes, and…” That’s an easy concept to understand, but a difficult one to master. It It is the mechanism that allows performers to improv in a way that makes the audience think it must be scripted.
  7. Yes and means that you don’t contradict-- whatever your partners bring in is true and valid. And then you amplify by asking yourself “If this is true, what else could be true?”
  8. Since you’re working without a net, each statement a partner makes is a gift that helps you understand the relationships and what is happening . A gift is something you should reciprocate, and building on that, you get a scene.
  9. This scene is a great example of “Yes, and…” It’s not the fat Chris Farley dancing that’s really funny. It’s that Patrick Swayze and the Chippendales execs take him so seriously. Imagine if they had said “Hey fat guy-- You don’t belong here.”
  10. To build meaningfully on what your partners say, you have to be a great listener. You also learn to be specific. If you think you’re going to do a scene about a bar and you just say with “Boy, am I thirsty,” you may find yourself in a desert. Better to say, “Barkeep, I need a drink.”
  11. In this scene, I thought I was starting a naval military thing. We wound up as kids lost in the woods. To jump from one to the other, you have to be nimble and creative.
  12. This doesn’t mean that all ideas are good-- but once they are brought into the world, they do exist. So you have to deal with them. The question is HOW? That’s where things get interesting.
  13. Now my aha moment came when Clay gave us an assignment to try “Yes, and…” at work with someone who didn’t know what we were doing. That’s when I started finding ways to use improv to improve regular communications.
  14. Face it, most conversations at work are the opposite of “Yes, and…” We’re often paid to critique, to refine, to say why things won’t work. While there’s certainly a place for that, in many work environments, this thinking weeds out some diamonds.
  15. If you follow “No, but…” communication to its logical conclusions, you find that it can leave us confused, hurt and missing out on the big picture. It makes us filter things that perhaps should have been saved.
  16. If you want to try this, the next time you boss brings you a harebrained idea, instead of resisting, “yes, and” him. At minimum, you’ll shake him upo a bit. And you may find that a better mode of persuasion than argument.
  17. I’m not saying that we should be Pollyannas and agree with everybody all the time -- but if you create a culture of “Yes, and…”, there are benefits. You listen, empower and create. It can brake set patterns that continually bring up the same result. And you’ll at least laugh a little more.
  18. Lest you think this idea of improv in business communication is either kooky or original to me, you’ll find a growing movement around the world -- spanning major corporations and even a popular business networking club in London dedicated to the premise. I hope that you’ll find your own way to say “Yes, and” to this concept and explore how it could can amplify your communications skills.