Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 09.07.10At the Gartner Portals, Collaboration and Content Summit the theme is “Engage to Succeed”.  And at the end of second day they have Neil Mullarkey, a professional improviser, talking about improv as a mechanism to engage people.

Improv for business

So as a short preview on improv for the business.  There is 1 principle and 3 rules for actors when they are on stage doing improv:

Principle: You don’t need to be funny, clever or witty and therefore you can’t “get it wrong”

Rule 1 – Listen: you can’t be preparing what you are going to say when the other actor is speaking because you won’t be listening to what you need to react to.

Rule 2 – Always say Yes: always be open and positive to what ever had been suggested.  Words like ‘But’ and ‘However’ are banned as they suck the energy out

Rule 3 – Commit: even if you don’t know what you are going to say or think your response is not going to be very good, deliver the lines it with passion and energy, you will get some surprising results


Niel has a slightly different list, called LAGER, but they work just as well.

Listen actively for offers

Accept offers

Give offers in return

Explore assumptions

Recycle previous offers

So how powerful are these 3 rules if we applied them to life or business?

Listen: How many times in a conversation are we simply waiting to make our point whilst the other person is speaking. We are not listening. We don’t hear their point of view and genuinely think about it. We are preparing our defence or attack. We never really hear.

Yes: Sir Clive Woodward put it well.  He identified that in his England team there were ‘energy sappers’. He deselected them and built a winning team of ‘energy givers’.  These are people who love to say Yes and get stuck in. And don’t we all just love working with people like that? Which leads to my last point.

Commit: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Do what you do with passion and energy or don’t do it at all. No successful entrepreneur, business man, parent or teacher has done it by sitting in the shadows.

FREE eBook

And we’ve written a Using Improv in Business. But it was written collaboratively.  You can download it here.

So if you want to ‘enrich your (business or real) life’ think about improv. No preparation required

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