This morning I’ll share takeaway #4 from Quench Network Forum launch last week. We had a half-day session that I can now safely admit was a big risk. A grand experiment if you will. We had a half day of Improv Coaching from Emily Reilly Russell, the Lead Actress at Whole World Theatre.
In my research phase of Quench, a very successful serial entrepreneur in Atlanta told me that his improv and acting training has provided him the most valuable business skill to date. I was intrigued enough to research the idea further, speak with lots of acting coaches around Atlanta, and ended up with a group-based improv program that was designed to build face-to-face communication skills as well as tremendous team-building.
Well it was a risk I am glad we took! The program was awesome. First of all, we’re going to rename that segment to “Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.” And boy was it uncomfortable! In the beginning of the program, we were lying on the floor, breathing, eyes closed, focused on breathing and focused on “energy.” Yes, weird, fluffy, and odd for sales training, right!? But as the program progresses it part builds on the previous exercise. We went through a number of stretches and yoga-style “things.” Then we were placed in pairs that rotated every exercise and had to get comfortable standing face to face with our forum mates, making direct eye contact for extended periods of time. No jokes, no gestures, just staring into each others eyes. Talk about uncomfortable!?!?! Have you ever tried this? Wow. It’s a skill I didn’t have before that program, and I can already say that after the program, I’m much more aware and comfortable making extended, intentional eye contact when I speak with people in professional and personal settings.
The rest of the program was great and hilarious. We progressed to speaking exercises, to showing emotions with and without words, with and without gestures; then conversation direction changes, how to handle them with grace and how to keep positive energy going in a funny or odd situation.
In addition to continuing to use Improv Coaching as part of Quench Network, I may even consider getting some acting lessons of my own. Even I believe I need to work on “Getting comfortable being uncomfortable.”
*Credit for the phrase “Get Comfortable Begin Uncomfortable” goes to the most successful sales person I know, Adam Mullen, an Account Executive with Fortna. Props given where props are due!