TOOL: Delight and engage your audience with reincorporation

Improvisation as a communication tool can be broken down into two steps:

Listen, then react.

Repeat.

Without being able to plan ahead in the conversation or the scene, Improvisers are skilled at being present and in the moment, fine-tuning their listening skills to yield honest reactions that keep moving the story and conversation forward.

Skilled Improvisers are also excellent at re-incorporation, or “the call-back” as it’s coined in the comedy world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callback_(comedy)

Reincorporating a piece of information, a line of dialogue or a small moment from earlier in the scene or story usually results in a big laugh. Reincorporation is a favorite of Improv audiences because they are amazed we remembered such details, and what is familiar usually get a laugh.

Without superb listening and awareness skills, reincorporation wouldn’t be possible.

But, reincorporation can delight more than just Improv audiences. 

Its applications stretch from presentation skills to interviews, praise, and building connections with everyday conversations.

Reincorporation really just means we’ve been listening, and it always feels nice to know you’ve been listened to. It shows that you care, and you are paying attention – imagine the delight and surprise when a small piece of information is reincorporated in an improvised story, perhaps an hour after it was first introduced. Reincorporating an idea, or an employee concern, or praise of a job well done can have the same effect.

Specificity plays a role here too. The more detailed the reincorporation, the bigger the reaction and delight you are creating.

As a presentation tool, reincorporation helps with retention, learning, and information summary. Repeating key points or key themes  in a presentation is a strategic tool.

Listen, then react… with an emphasis on the listening.

What’s the drill – February 24: One game, many applications

“A game is just an excuse for a debrief”, says Thiagi – game and performance training guru.

Here’s a great game to play which will lead to fascinating debriefs regarding leadership development, communication skills training,  and team-building.

“Ball”  is the name of the game, and it’s one any group can play. I first learned “ball” in my Foundation 1 improv class at BATS Improv in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve played ball to begin almost every single improv class I’ve taken.  Beyond it being a ton of fun, it’s also a great physical warm-up and a way to foster a group mind.

To play, all you need is a plastic or koosh-like large ball.

1. Grab your group and stand in a circle so that everyone can see each other.

2. One person starts with the ball and hits it in the air.

3. Each time the ball is hit/touched by a member of the group, the players count together in unison (1, 2, 3, and so on). The goal of the game is to keep the ball in the air without it touching the ground. Everyone must count together out loud, and a player may not hit the ball twice in a row (like the rules of volleyball).

4. If the ball falls, or if a player touches the ball twice in a row, the game resets and counting starts over again at 1.

5. The goal is to work together as a team and see how high of a number your team can get to.

Try this game with your team and see how you do. What strategies did you use? Most importantly, what can this game teach us about leadership, communication skills, commitment, and team-work? Check in Monday for some results.

 

 

 

HR Roundtable: What Hinders Effective Training & Development?

HR Roundtable: What Hinders Effective Training & Development?.

Great read, and even better reminder that humor and storytelling are learning devices that help us retain information.

What is levity, and why it matters more than ever

In The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up, Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher argue that levity is a must-have tool for your workplace toolbox.

Levity, they argue, helps people work better. For example, it helps people pay attention, eases tension, and enhances a feeling of connection. These factors certainly can contribute to a happier and healthier workplace, and a more engaged one at that.

Increasing levity, and in turn, engagement can have a large effect on profits. We know the cost of disengaged workers:  the Gallup organization has found that disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy roughly $416 billion last year, primarily through lost productivity.

It seems the workplace could benefit from levity, or happiness training.  Now, the question is how. Is there such a thing as levity training?

We can re-train our brain to be more positive, can we train ourselves to be more light-hearted in the stress of day-to-day work, pressures, deadlines, and a difficult economy?

It may not be as hard as it seems. I’ll offer a few tips below.

We know that laughter and humor, for example, release dopamine (and decreases the stress hormone, cortisol) in the brain which regulates mood, motivation, attention and learning. Findings from research at Stanford indicate that humor can have positive effects not only on mood, but also on motivation and learning.

But it’s not just about the laughs. Just like we often dispel myths about Improv training, it’s important to clarify what levity means. The authors stress levity is really a sense of lightness. Just like formal Improv training, it’s less about being funny and more about being able to have fun, and see the humorous side of everyday situations — especially difficult ones.

Improv and levity training can look like this:

  1. Creating a more positive mindset
  2. Building connections and trust amongst groups and teams
  3. Increasing your capacity for gratitude and the gifts of others
  4. Being more present – to appreciate and recognize everything and everyone around you
  5. Increasing confidence to make building connections with others more natural
  6. Turning mistakes into gifts
  7. Adding more play into day-to-day work

We are in charge of our own happiness and how we measure it, but the environment in which we work can do more to increase workplace levity and contribute to more positive experiences at the office. It is worth taking the time.

Gostick and Christopher include a quiz about workplace levity. Take this quiz and see how your workplace measures up. If it falls short, what small changes can you initiate?

New employees are made to feel welcome.
Meetings are positive and light.
We have fun activities at least once a month.
It’s common to hear people laughing around here.
I can be myself at work.
We have a lot of celebrations for special events.
When brainstorming, we like to have fun.
My boss is usually optimistic and smiling.
Customers would call us fun to do business with.
I have a friend at work who makes me laugh.
We have a good time together.