Think improvising is just for Amy Poehler and associates? You would be wrong, and really missing out. Improv comedy and the lessons we can learn from it aren’t just for the insanely funny. The practice of creating scenes and characters entirely on the spot can teach marketers, and cluttered minds alike, a thing or two about more effectively conducting business. If you’re not up for some scene work, you can still borrow some techniques that are at the very core of improv.
Be bold, but adaptable
Improv is all about taking bold risks as a result of established confidence. Sometimes, these risks will be unsuccessful. Unfortunately you can’t start anew when this happens, so you have to work around any hiccups and make it part of the overall success. That’s where true skill shines. In marketing, things don’t always go as planned. You have your campaigns, targets, and strategies mapped out perfectly and a sudden change of a platform or market condition can throw you in another direction. Understanding the opportunities at hand and how to make the best of any situation is a true asset.
Collaborate and listen
The silver lining is that you’re not doing it alone. You have scene partners with you that are there to catch your fall, but also are relying on your support. You all have to make it work—no matter what. The famous “yes, and” philosophy urges improvisers to take their partner’s action and build on it to make a more robust scene. As marketers, we can’t just rest on our laurels. Working collaboratively, with a team of other smart people, helps think outside of our comfort zone and continue to innovate.
Right here, right now
Above all, you have to live in the moment. An improviser starts each scene with a mind wiped clean and their skills toolkit at hand. If you fail to live in the moment and listen to your surroundings, you’re doomed. If your mind is cluttered, it gets in the way of your creative juices. Now more than ever the landscape of our field is changing. It seems as if new capabilities are born every day, and being proactive is the name of the game. Just because you had something planned doesn’t mean it needs to unfold as such if a better opportunity arises. Think on your feet and don’t be afraid to bend the rules when it’s advantageous.
Chances are, there is an improv school near you that teaches anywhere from complete newbies to experts. Many of these schools also offer improv workshops for businesses! It’s a worthwhile investment that enhances office culture and teamwork. So go fail a little – or a lot – live in the moment, and build your confidence in the meantime.
Viki is a social media and digital marketing intern at RDW. She is also a recent graduate of the University of Rhode Island. Aside from trying to establish a cool yet comfortable adulthood, you can find her fixated on the Food Network or catching up with her favorite pug Instagram accounts.