Four Ways the Principles of Improv Can Help You Develop Award-Winning Communications Programs
Improv is most commonly thought of as a comedy incubator, the starting point for future great comic stars like Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and Keegan Michael Key. But the principles of improv are also being adopted for business training and I believe that some of the best aspects of improv like being flexible, really listening and reacting with “yes, and…” can lead to great communications programs.
Using examples from our recent Business Marketing Association (BMA) award-winning programs for our B2B client Emerson, here are four ways you can use improv to create winning communications programs for your business.
- Staying flexible and adapting quickly is a key asset in improv and this concept translates easily to developing a strong public relations program. Our BMA winning entry featured our work to build a PR program based on thought leadership and industry insights. Not only did we need to stay flexible in developing the plan, we had to help our clients to also be flexible and adapt quickly to media requests—netting high profile placements.
- Listening is crucial in improv. Tempting as it may be, you can’t be thinking about what you want to say next, you need to listen to understand how you can contribute to the scenario. For our BMA winning trade show press kit, we had to listen both to the requests of our clients and also the needs of the media. This helped us turn a laundry list of press releases into a digital resource that helped support the story the client was telling in their booth and provide the background, news and images that media at the show needed to ensure maximum coverage.
- Charged with helping clients both launch an innovation center and create a spirit of innovation among employees, our BMA winning employee communications program benefited from our “yes, and…” approach to planning. We took every “ordinary” idea we had for the launch and asked how could we make it even more compelling.
Sometimes it went like this: We should have cake… yes, and what if it was shaped like the building. Yes, and what if it was 5 feet long.
And even this: We should reveal this facility in a big way to help employees understand the significance… yes, and we should do a series of tease events that will leave them excited and curious.
- The most important takeaway is that you don’t need formal improv training to be flexible, to listen or even to say “yes, and…” You can start today improvising with your colleagues. Many times in business we get distracted by all the “no’s,” both real and imagined. Start saying “yes, and…” to great ideas and your projects can deliver winning results.
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