To succeed in agile marketing, you need the following skills:
|Coordination||Negotiation||Openness To Receive|
|Allow Flow of Creativity||Public Speaking||Willingness To Give|
|Presentation||Problem-Solving||Let Go Of Self-Criticism|
This is a pretty big list, and it’s hard to master all of them. Improv classes help you to practice and strengthen these skills quickly, while also enhancing your team connection.
The Hideout Theatre provides a great definition of improv:
“Improvisation, or improv, is a form of live theatre in which the plot, characters and dialogue of a game, scene or story are made up in the moment. Often improvisers will take a suggestion from the audience, or draw on some other source of inspiration to get started.”
With the help of our improv teacher, we were not only taught improv techniques, but also how to extract teachings about yourself and your teammates from the exercises and apply them to the business world.
Your Improv Class Needs A Strong Instructor
It’s important to have a strong instructor to guide you in the process and provide meaningful feedback. We studied with Meridith Grundei, an award winning performer and director.
With her warm, welcoming sense of humor, she lead us through each exercise, and helped us to see patterns within ourselves that we may want to look at in our daily lives and most likely show up in the office.
She also encouraged a space where there is no self-judgement or judgement of others.
No idea is a bad idea in Improv.
We enrolled in four two-hour classes. Each class brought us deeper into the art of improv and invited us to step even more out of our comfort zones and into a skill building environment.
Here’s a shot of us playing one of our warm-up games:
Improv Exercises & The Marketing Skills They Strengthened
We got a lot out of every exercise, but here are just a few to give you an idea of our experience:
Exercise 1: Builds communication presence, memory, collaboration, listening, coordination, problem-solving skills
One person held an imaginary red ball and handed it to any person in the circle. The person giving it said “Here you go red ball.” The person who received it said “Thank you red ball.”
We continued moving the ball around the circle for a couple of minutes. Then another imaginary object was introduced, such as “diving goggles.”
Soon a few more imaginary objects were added, one by one. We had many people trying to give objects and many people receiving objects.
There were times when one person ended up with multiple objects at once. This was where presence and memory came into play.
You had to be present enough to remember everything that was in your hand in order to hand it out.
We often found in this exercise that when there were multiple objects being added, teammates were giving objects to other teammates who were distracted and not listening. This meant that the object was lost and was no longer being passed around.
We realized that when we moved slower, and even gestured what the object was as we passed it along, it made it easier to remember what we were receiving, thus preventing the object from being lost.
It also helped when we coordinated with each other.
We waited until a teammate was ready to receive an object. That is when we gave our object. Using our problem-solving skills, we were able to quickly resolve issues with the way our team was functioning and to keep our objects moving.
This exercise focused on team building and connection.
In the agile arena, you are often working on a project with teammates. You need effective communication, listening, collaboration and coordination skills in order to work successfully as a team.
If there’s a wrench in your team wheels, you need to figure out how to get it out. You also need presence and memory to retain project tasks and requests from your CEO when things are moving in a fast paced fashion.
Exercise 2: Builds collaboration, coordination, negotiation, presence, spontaneity skills
Everyone walked around the room and then froze when Meridith said to freeze. We then all collectively had to decide to unfreeze at the same time and continue walking. We did this a few times. The key with this was to see how in sync we all were.
Next, we all had to stay frozen. One person decided to move at time. If someone started moving while you were moving, you needed to freeze. You also had the opportunity to freeze on your own and allow someone else to move.
The whole purpose was to make sure that only one person was moving at a time and to negotiate that amongst the team. The whole time, you were sensing each other and where each person was in space.
This is crucial when you are working on a sprint and your teammates are sharing various parts of a project with you.
Keeping track of where each person is at with their piece, and knowing what needs to happen in order to bring everything together on time will keep your Scrum Master very happy.
Exercise 3: Builds spontaneity, openness to receiving, willingness to give, ability to stay present, collaboration, listening, memory, and creativity skills
We broke up into groups of two or three. One person gave a statement. The next person received the statement, agreed, and added onto it. This pattern continues, and usually creates a wild, hysterical story.
This taught us how vital it is to value the thoughts of your teammates.
Of course it’s okay to not agree with everything someone says in the office, but acknowledging their point a view and then introducing yours keeps the creative energy moving forward and opens the door for a safe, respectful place for communication.
Exercise 4: Builds flexibility, spontaneity, openness to receiving, willingness to give, ability to stay present, collaboration, listening, memory, coordination, negotiation, creativity, public speaking, and presentation skills
Four chairs were set up in a row, with four people sitting in them. Another person from the team shared a short personal story.
The person in the first chair must acted out the story in interpretive dance.
The person in the second chair told the story in a monologue that could be from anyone’s perspective in the story.
The person in the third chair recited a poem about the story.
The person in the last chair performed a song about the story.
This was probably my favorite team building exercise in the whole experience. In this exercise you really need to let go of any self-criticism to be able to effectively provide an adequate interpretation of the story for your teammates.
If you are able to interpretively dance, enact a monologue, recite a meaningful poem, and perform your own diddy, all off of the top of your head, in front of your team, well then you’ve succeeded in being yourself, and letting creativity flow through you and effectively communicating this to your team.
This sort of skill is priceless in marketing, where you are always trying to innovate and express. If you feel inhibited in any way to do this, then your agile team may be lacking the grease in its wheels.
Improv Takeaways From Our Agile Marketing Team
There’s no comfort zone in marketing. Things are always changing and moving fast. Improv helps you to become comfortable out of your comfort zone, and respond to the moment fearlessly.
Most of us hadn’t tried improv before. Whether it was speaking, singing, dancing, or being spontaneous in front of each other, with each exercise, we grew in areas we were once afraid of.
Observe how you approach each activity. This usually signifies how you approach situations in life, and with your team. See if you can approach the activity/situations differently.
Those of us who found ourselves to be more passive in group activities were asked to observe that and approach future activities more assertively. Those of us who tended to be assertive were asked to approach more passively.
This is important in team collaboration to allow for other voices to come through and prevent the same people from dominating.
Presence is important. When teammates feel that you are truly present and listening, they feel more comfortable to open up and share ideas that could potentially move your business forward.
Staying present also allows for you to get out of your head and allow creativity to flow.
You can’t plan everything ahead of time. Learning to be comfortable with spontaneity will prepare you for anything that comes up in your office, positive or negative, and especially prepares you for public speaking.
We gained a better understanding and respect for one another. Because we were working so closely together and having fun, it created a connection that wasn’t there before and broke down barriers.
Our CEO, Christian Vanek, leaves you with his perspective on our improv experience.
Other Articles You Might Be Interested In:
- Agile Marketing Agile Content Strategy for Marketing and Documentation: Rough is Enough
- Agile Marketing An Agile Approach to Problem Solving: Fishbone Diagram and 5 Whys
- Agile Marketing How to Lay the Foundation for an Agile Culture in Your Marketing Department
- Agile Marketing How to Run an Agile Marketing Sprint [SlideShare]
- Strategy 3 Techniques to Take Your Brainstorming Session From Banal to Brilliant