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 considering a Honda/Ford/Dodge”? [duh, yes that’s why we are at your dealership!]
Do this too much and you run the risk of coming across as a half-wit or deliberately manipulative. But do it right, and your customer will have warmed up by saying “yes” three times.
Yes, let’s is an excellent improv theater warm up that underscores and trains the habit of Accepting, one of the fundamental building blocks of improvisational theater.
The warm-up starts when the first player makes a declaration about an activity that sets the stage, like “Let’s go to the beach!”. Everyone in the group shouts “Yes, let’s!” and begins to mime activities one might do at the beach. After a few seconds another player states loudly “Let’s build sand castles!”. Again, everyone shouts “Yes, let’s!” and mimes building sand castles. After a few moments a third player calls out “Let’s go for a swim!”. Everyone responds with an enthusiastic, “Yes, let’s!” and mimes going for a swim. The pattern of one person suggesting an activity, and everyone loudly agreeing to do it (and actually doing it) repeats until every person in the group has suggested at least one activity.
As a simple warm-up designed to build energy and develop the automatic Accepting response, there are not a lot of deep take-away’s. But I do make a couple of points for participants:
- As with games like “What Are You Doing?” the aim here is to train reflexive acceptance of offers. No thinking, just accepting and going with it. This is important as a creative exercise because most of us have very powerful editors in our heads ready to criticize, minimize, and block every reaction we have. Great improv and great creativity result when we don’t second guess our initial creative impulses.
- This warm-up is very physical. By training our bodies to respond without hesitation in accepting an offer, we become better improvisers. My fourth rule of improv is “Keep it active.” This is because lots of physical action is more entertaining than a bunch of talking heads, and because often our bodies give us clues and motivation for what to do next, even when our thoughts are frozen. It is also important because:
- Improv is momentum. And momentum requires energy. This is a great warm-up for boosting the energy in a group and in each person, allowing them to draw on that momentum for the more challenging activities ahead.
Previous Improv Articles:
- Improv in a Suit: What are you Doing? (Dissociation)
- Improv in Heels: Exit Game
- Improv in the Cubicles: The Oracle