Better Communicator Series #2: Using Improvisation

Let’s face it – many times, our presentations even bore ourselves! Whether leading a meeting, presenting information to a committee, or worst of all, the weekly sermon, how often do you get the sinking feeling you audience is sinking right before your eyes – figuratively, if not literally?

Communication to individuals, to teams, and to large groups is one of the core foundations of the leader’s skill set. And yet, most leaders feel inadequate at times, feeling they are just not connecting.

On top of that, our media-saturated society has an attention span that is growing smaller and smaller, making it difficult to connect, much less persuade, our audience.

Intuitively, as a leader, you know that connecting in person can yield powerful outcomes. Many times it isn’t until you speak to people in person – with one or one hundred or one thousand – that you can establish a visceral connection that motivates them to adopt your idea.

THE QUICK SUMMARY –  “Getting to Yes, And” by Bob Kulhan

Amidst the deluge of advice for businesspeople, there lies an overlooked tool, a key to thriving in today’s fast-paced, unpredictable environment: improvisation. In Getting to “Yes And” veteran improv performer, university professor, CEO, and consultant Bob Kulhan unpacks a form of mental agility with powers far beyond the entertainment value of comedy troupes.

Drawing on principles from cognitive and social psychology, behavioral economics, and communication, Kulhan teaches readers to think on their feet and approach the most typical business challenges with fresh eyes and openness. He shows how improv techniques such as the “Yes, and” approach, divergent and convergent thinking, and focusing on being present can translate into more productive meetings, swifter decisions, stronger collaboration, positive conflict resolution, mindfulness, and more. Moving from the individual to the organizational level, Kulhan compiles time-tested teaching methods and training exercises into an instrumental guide that readers can readily implement as a party of one or a company of thousands.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Improvising – react, adapt, and communicate

Improvisation should not just be the purview of the comedian onstage. Improvisation, at its most basic level, is about ad-libbing or responding to someone else. When done well, it provides lots of laughter and entertainment. But it can go much further than that.

For many leaders, success requires the ability to create something out of nothing, which in many ways, is what it means to improvise. Think about it; as a leader, haven’t you faced some, if not all, of the following:

  • Create partnerships with others
  • Develop better processes for your organization
  • New ideas for your organization to implement
  • Branding or marketing campaigns
  • Responses to questions from your team
  • Sermon series
  • Written content to support your organization

The list goes on and on, and the common thread: you are creating something out of nothing.

Just like improvisation.

Improvisation, when stripped down to its basic building blocks, is about reacting, adapting, and communicating.

Improvisation is not so much a creation of something out of nothing as much as it is the creation of something out of everything – everything one has been taught, everything one has experienced, everything one knows.

Improvisers observe all and try to take advantage of everything around them: every word, every movement, every sound; every facial expression body gesture, moment, and data point. Improvisers will pull from all information at their disposal and will not dismiss anything that might possibly be useful.

A great improviser can look at the tiny details and the big picture simultaneously. Improvisers observe everything for its worth and assess every situation as accurately and honestly as humanly possible.

Bob Kulhan, “Getting to Yes, And”

A NEXT STEP

If a person knows just one thing about the techniques of improv, it’s probably two words: “Yes, and…” This phrase describes the cornerstone philosophy of improvisation.

Each word in the phrase – whether actually spoken or silently implied – represents a key part of the team dynamic and mind-set that must be established between performers. “Yes” represents the unconditional acceptance of an idea that has been presented and established by another performer or group of performers. “And” means that you take that expressed idea and build directly on it.

One of the most powerful components of “Yes, and” is to be aware of not just of what you communicate and how you mean to communicate it, but also of the effect that specific communication has on other people.

Author Bob Kulhan uses the following exercise to lay the groundwork for implementing the “Yes, and” framework into your communication. Use it to begin your journey to “Yes, and.”

Have a three-five minute conversation with a colleague, starting every sentence with “Yes, but…” Focus internally by objectively looking at the language you use after “but,” and focus externally on how the person across from you reacts throughout the course of the entire conversation.

What did you notice?

Now, have a three-five minute conversation with someone, starting every conversation with “Yes, and…” Keep focused internally on your language after “and” and externally on how the person across from you reacts during the entire conversation.

What did you notice?

When you recognize the difference, you will be able to recognize what you are doing in real time so that you can make the choice to continue that behavior or change it to get the desired effect on the people you are influencing.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 107-2, released December 2018.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix book excerpts for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix<<

Download PDF

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Great Communication, Part 1: Get Personal

There is really no situation much worse than finding yourself caught in a presentation or conference where the person speaking has something important to share, but remains clearly unable to share it. Those moments are a great reminder that, in order to reach someone with the message of the gospel, we first must be able to capture his or her attention.

As a church leader, you may be confident and used to speaking in front of audiences of all sizes. However, truly connecting with people requires more than confidence and experience. Great communicators have a plan for developing their message to present it in a compelling and engaging way.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – TED Talks, by Chris Anderson

For anyone who has ever been inspired by a TED talk…

…this is an insider’s guide to creating talks that are unforgettable.

Since taking over TED in the early 2000s, Chris Anderson has shown how carefully crafted short talks can be the key to unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, spreading knowledge, and promoting a shared dream. Done right, a talk can electrify a room and transform an audience’s worldview. Done right, a talk is more powerful than anything in written form.

This book explains how the miracle of powerful public speaking is achieved, and equips you to give it your best shot. There is no set formula; no two talks should be the same. The goal is for you to give the talk that only you can give. But don’t be intimidated. You may find it more natural than you think.
Chris Anderson has worked behind the scenes with all the TED speakers who have inspired us the most, and here he shares insights from such favorites as Sir Ken Robinson, Amy Cuddy, Bill Gates, Elizabeth Gilbert, Salman Khan, Dan Gilbert, Mary Roach, Matt Ridley, and dozens more — everything from how to craft your talk’s content to how you can be most effective on stage. This is the 21st-century’s new manual for truly effective communication and it is a must-read for anyone who is ready to create impact with their ideas.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

It’s one thing to give a good presentation that your audience seems to enjoy. It’s quite another thing to create a unique, exciting, and memorable experience that has your listeners on the edge of their seats, and more importantly, ready to act.

Would you like to make a lasting impression on your listeners? What if you could design an experience that leaves them in deep thought, changes their worldview, or best of all, changes their lives?

In order to do something like that, you have to connect with your audience.

Knowledge cant be pushed into a brain. It has to be pulled in.

Before you can build an idea in someone else’s mind, you need their permission. People are naturally cautious about opening up their minds – the most precious thing they own – to complete strangers. You need to find a way to overcome that caution. And the way you do that is to make visible the human being cowering inside you.

Hearing a talk is a completely different thing from reading an essay. It’s not just the words. Not at all. It’s the person delivering the words. To make an impact, there has to be a human connection. You can give the most brilliant talk, with crystal-clear explanations and laser-sharp logic, but if you don’t first connect with the audience, it just won’t land. Even if the content is, as some level, understood, it won’t be activated but simply filed away in some soon-to-be-forgotten mental archive.

Five suggestions to make that vial early connection:

Make eye contact, right from the start. Scientists have shown that just the act of two people staring at each other will trigger mirror neuron activity that literally adopts the emotional state of the other person.

Show vulnerability. Willing to be vulnerable is one of the most powerful tools a speaker can wield.

Make em laugh – but not squirm. Audiences who laugh with you quickly come to like you.

Park your ego. The purpose of your talk is to gift an idea, not to self-promote.

Tell a story. We’re born to love stories. They are instant generators of interest, empathy, emotion, and intrigue.

Chris Anderson, TED Talks

A NEXT STEP

To help you develop the concept of connecting with your audience, practice the following exercise the next time you are speaking.

A few moments before you prepare to step up to the podium or center stage to speak, pick one person in the room to focus on – for example, a young man in the middle of the room about halfway back.

Think about that man. What does he know and need to know in order to respond favorably to your message?

As you begin to speak, make eye contact with the man, and as you do, reach out toward him with an appropriate hand gesture. As you hand extends, your body will naturally follow. As you lean forward, your head will dip into a head nod, which will cause the man to nod back to you involuntarily. In order to maintain your eye connection with him, you will have to look up through your eyebrows, causing them to rise, making your features expressive.

When you practice the actions above while speaking, you are setting the tone for the rest of your presentation by making a connection to your audience.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 52-1, issued October 2016

 


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.