Saying yes is a frame of mind. It is an approach to life, creativity, and leadership.
Say yes until you have to say no. In everything.
Even in sales, it is one of the oldest tricks in the book to get people into a “yes” mindset by warming them up with questions to which “yes” is the most likely answer:
“Hello, are you having a good day?” [good manners usually have us answering ‘yes’]
“Are you looking for a car today?” [of course, that is why we are on the lot]
“Are you . . . → Read More: Improv in the Cubicles: Yes Let’s!
Patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time…
Carrying on a conversation with a customer while preparing their complicated order at the counter…
Calling in sick when you are actually on your way to the beach for the day…
Coming up with a new idea when all around you people are trotting out clichés…
Throughout life we are asked to do more than one thing at once, and be creative about it to boot. To do any of those things successfully requires that we get past the normal ‘grooves’ of behaviour that are our first instincts.
. . . → Read More: Improv in a Suit: What are you Doing? (Dissociation)
We spend our life waiting for cues.
It’s all about trying to get the timing right. We look for cues to speak our turn, to ask for a raise, to lean in for a kiss…
Act too soon, and it sends the wrong signals of pushiness or desperation. Too late and the moment slips by.
Getting it right takes skills they don’t teach at school. It’s one of those things we have to figure out on our own, usually painfully. It takes empathy, good listening skills, confidence, some intelligence, and a fair degree of luck to make our entrances . . . → Read More: Improv in Heels: Exit Game
In the movie Being There, Peter Sellers, in his last major role, plays Chance the Gardener, a dim-witted gardener who through a series of accidents ends up being seen as a sage with answers to life’s deepest questions.
Chance the Gardener [Riding in a car for the first time]:” This is just like television, only you can see much further.”
To get a sense of the dialogue and of the other characters’ desperate desires to hear answers where there are none, read this excerpt at IMDB.
Meaning is determined by the audience. As speakers or ‘broadcasters’ we can try . . . → Read More: Improv in the Cubicles: The Oracle
“There was never enough bread in the house.”
“She jumped as high as she could, and finally saw what she was looking for.”
“You really should go get that checked out you know.”
Three unrelated sentences; an infinite number of possibilities when combined and used as material for a story.
That is the magic of the creative process where you take a number of deliberately unrelated items and bring them into proximity to see what surprising new options emerge. The author Edward de Bono has made a career out of an approach called lateral thinking that uses this approach . . . → Read More: Improv in a Suit: Three of These Things…
If you’re a guy and a loyal boyfriend or husband, you have spent many hours sitting just outside the fitting rooms of clothing stores waiting for your partner to try on clothes. Personally, I’ve never minded this little ritual because those sitting areas are great places to people watch. Except of course for those chambers of Satan that don’t provide seating for the guys. May your knit coordinates wither on the rack.
One day I was sitting and waiting for my wife to reappear in something lovely. I was people watching and pretending to play with my Blackberry. A . . . → Read More: Communication Improv Games: Secrets Endowment
A little girl is taking dinner to her grandmother. A wolf intercepts her and finds out where she is going. The wolf arrives at the grandmother’s house first, eats the grandmother, disguises himself in her clothes, and waits in bed for the little girl. The girl arrives, is a little bit suspicious, impolitely comments on her grandmothers’ appearance, and is promptly eaten. Drowsy after his meal, the wolf falls asleep. A woodcutter arrives, slices the sleeping wolf open, rescues the grandmother and the girl, fills the wolf up with rocks, and sews him up. The wolf wakes up thirsty . . . → Read More: Act Fast! Fairy Tale in 60 Seconds
In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 movie Rear Window, we watch as the main character Jeffries (played by Jimmy Stewart), learns things about his neighbours by watching them through the rear window of his apartment. What makes this masterpiece a great study in point of view (POV) is that Hitchcock has his main character apartment-bound in a wheelchair. For most of the first act, our entire understanding of what is going on is limited to what Jeffries can see from his apartment window. The camera shows us only what he can see. He can’t move and neither can we.
For a . . . → Read More: Do You See What I See? An Exercise in POV & Empathy
A great conversation or presentation walks a fine line between art and science.
Getting the mix right means getting lost in your passion for your subject on the one hand, and carefully monitoring your own signals (language, para-verbal, and non-verbal) and those of your audience on the other.
This is as true in writing as in speaking. Inexperienced writers don’t realize that it takes enormous art to say simple things well. But even competent or great writers sometimes let the science get ahead of the art. For me Margaret Atwood has always been such a writer. At her best, . . . → Read More: Are You Asking?
Abbott: […] Well, let’s see… we have on the bags, Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third…
Costello: That’s what I want to find out.
This pair of lines is from one of the most famous comedy routines in history: “Who’s On First” by Abbot and Costello. This is a classic straight man routine (or comic foil, to use a less sexist term) where one character plays it straight and sets up the pay-offs or punch lines for the other character. Bud Abbot was a great straight man.
A comic foil in some ways . . . → Read More: He Said She Said – Who’s on First?