A room of PR professionals from around the world gathered in Madrid to participate in the PR Network’s semi-annual members meeting. The first session of the day found us learning about improvisation and the relevance to PR and team dynamics.
You might be wondering, why improv? As it turns out, an ability to improvise is linked to organizational agility. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, “How do you deal with a crisis? What do you do when a sudden change disrupts routines? In order to thrive in times of uncertainty, you need managers and employees who can think on their feet and act fast — without an instruction manual. That is, you need skilled improvisers.”
PR and communication professionals are often faced with changes, uncertainty, and crisis management. We need to be skilled improvisers. And we need to work effectively across a variety of teams – including internationally with professionals from different cultures. However, as noted in the HBR article, improvisation takes practice.
We were fortunate to have Amy Vaya, Bahrain country director for Perceptions PR & Digital, guide us through a few exercises during which we were able to practice our improv skills, through focusing on active listening, building on ideas and being in the moment.
The exercises included the Three-Word Story exercise, where participants form a circle and make up a story about a chosen subject with each participant adding only three words at a time, building off the last person’s contribution.
These improv exercises help strengthen listening skills and quick thinking, build confidence, and support team building – all of which are valuable when developing working with clients, understanding coworkers, and adapting to change.
If you want to practice your improv skills, find a partner, and remember these three rules: 1) agree (accept their reality), 2) add to the conversation with the magic words “Yes, and …” and 3) have fun!
For more on this topic, check out these articles:
- Embracing Improv As Part Of Your Preparation Strategy
- Steal These Art World Techniques to Improvise in the C-Suite, Saying “Yes, and” can lead to creative leadership solutions.