I have always thought that every business person should take an improvisational (improv) acting class. Not to be dishonest in any way, but to learn techniques in communication. Some of these take time to learn and the process can be painful. But learning these techniques through a good acting class can prove to be the best investment you can make.
I have told this to people many times but they give me the blank stare.
No I am not an acting teacher. But I am a marketer. I understand that marketing is about effective communication and learning to do so with honesty and self control can mean the difference between growth and failure.
Chron.com published an article recently, “Communication Problems In A Business.” The author describes the conflicts that can arise because of poor communication, saying, “Poor listening skills, for example, can lead to unnecessary conflict. Communication problems waste time, money and productivity.”
Now we all know this to be true. How many times has a conflict arisen because we communicated one thing with our posture and another? It often takes a moment to create a poisoned situation and days or months to fix if at all.
I appreciate a good actor. The focus and ability to intuitively understand how the other person is communicating both by actions and words. I can see where improv classes have helped them keep up with all activity around them. I see how in-depth scene study allows the actor to bring a fully matured character to the stage.
In the real world however, real people make blunders in real time.
So I have spoken my mind. Business folks should take acting classes. I felt so alone in this thought until I read an article about lawyers and acting classes.
On the FindLaw (For legal professionals) website, there is a thorough exploration into this very thought. “Lawyers, at least, should take acting classes to learn the technical parts of acting. For example, how do you project your voice? The jury needs to be able to hear you, and they can’t do it if you’re mumbling. You should also practice blocking, which is where people stand and where they move in a performance. It’s important that you stand in the right place so that the jury can see the witness — or, in the case of cross examination, so that the jury can see you.”
In fact, Mark Wilson Esq.’s entire article is worth the read. “Should Lawyers Take Acting Classes?” There is also an article on the American Bar Association website in the Litigation News section that is also well worth the read. It discussed different personas or characters that can help in effectively prosecuting a case. The article is “Acting Technique for the Courtroom,” by Mark A Drummond.
Then I found this gem by Entrepreneur.com. Why Business Owners Should Study Improv. It seemed to sum up everything I was thinking and got me excited.
So I was right! But I wasn’t alone. Obviously this was already a thing. I had to figure out if acting schools already offered classes or workshops specifically targeted at business people or entrepreneurs. And where is the best place to start but Hollywood California.
I reached out to Fran Montano at The Actors Studio Workout in North Hollywood California. “I have realtors that take my class and love it because it helps them to speak to somebody when someone comes to their office. I mean the kind of people that I’ve had, yeah, Ive had mostly sales people, Ive had realtors, Ive had lawyers, Ive had accountants, I’ve had a lot of entrepreneurs that are starting their own business and they want to be more present. They want to be able to express themselves more carefully.”
In our conversation he explained how improv can change a business persons success. He also explained that The Actors Studio Workout will be starting beginners Improv classes in the new year and those interested can attend a free workshop on January 7th or 14th, 2017. This is offered to business people interested in exploring Improv and would like to audit or participate in the free day.
There was also something about Fran’s tone that instilled confidence that he had the experience, knowledge and understanding to help any entrepreneur take their communication ability to the next level through Improv. I will have the full edited interview shortly. In the interim you can visit the Actors Studio Workout by clicking here.
Finally, I decided to look into acting schools in the greater Toronto – Hamilton area. After all, this is where I call home and where many of my customers have their businesses. I was surprised at how many thought the idea was excellent, but did not have an initiative in place to attract this segment of the market: business people that want to use improv acting classes to become better business people.
Earl (The Voice) Nanhu surprised me to say that he also has a course coming up in April 2017 specifically for business people who want to learn better interpersonal skills through the art of improv. I was happy. It not only exists, but it exists right here in my back yard. “People want not just a competitive edge, which developing improvisation skills will help achieve, but also start a transformation in how the individual interacts with others on every level.” Earl Nanhu at EVN Film Studios in Toronto.
Well this was enough for me on the phone. I had to see for myself. I know there is no improv for business workshop running until April 2017, but I wanted to see improv demonstrated and EVN Studios allowed me to audit a class. I found the class to be engaging and truly transformative. It was easy for me to observe after having only attended one session, how the class could serve to improve not only the communication skills of business people but to truly trust themselves. In fact for me, I felt twinges of anxiety at the honesty in the scenes imagining myself in the same situation and how awkward it would be for me to know myself enough to stay true to myself.
Incredible! If that wasn’t reason enough, the cherry on top of this perfectly indulgent sundae for success is surely a boost in confidence, a trait that is hard to come by for some entrepreneur, or seasoned business people meeting new groups. In fact, many people that I have met over the years in business yearn for greater confidence in one area or another.
Lessons in improv provide the student/actor with the ability to adapt in any situation and permit them to address any instance of uncertainty with confidence.
Earl’s class at EVN Film Studios demonstrates one of the most crucial elements in improv, the ability to use “yes” as a response to any and every situation. One can easily see how the ability to say
“yes” when embarking on a new business venture or when dealing with a new and/or difficult client could serve to be incredibly beneficial in a corporate setting. Improv teaches us that we must resist the natural urge to respond negatively to platforms we mite normally disagree with. Instead, improv teaches us to accept the ideas of other actors (or for our purposes clients/co-workers) and add to/build on them.
Hello Enlightenment! It follows then, that Improv classes serve to improve our active listening skills as the ability to say “yes” requires us to listen fully and to understand completely what is being requested of us. Yet another skill essential to the success of any businessperson or enterprise. Finally, I was able to observe how Improv mite serve to improve both the teamwork and critical thinking skills of business people by challenging members to work in sync. In business, these techniques will allow us to collaborate effectively with partners and to develop new and creative ideas. All and all I would highly recommend enrollment in an improv class for any businessperson who mite be looking to improve their communication skills and boost their overall success rate. You may even have some fun while your at it!!!!!