In today’s marketing world, there are plenty of ways to improve employees’ soft marketing skills in a corporate setting. And according to Erin Diehl, one way rises above the rest: improv. Many studies have shown that improv training can improve employees’ trust, teamwork, communication, presentation skills and creative problem-solving, along with a company’s overall corporate culture. The company Erin founded, Improve it!, conducts workshops across the country that leverage improvisational techniques.
We were lucky to have Erin lead a session for us at the April BMA Chicago Breakfast. Who wouldn’t want to start their morning with an hour filled with laughter, teamwork, communication, problem-solving skills and more?
Erin started off her session by introducing Improve it!’s simple message to the group. As Erin said, “Our mission is to provide high-energy, laughter-filled team-building workshops that incorporate improvisation.” The first improv activity, a simple “chicken dance,” woke up the group and got us ready to jump right into all the high-energy, laughter-filled team-building activities during this particular session.
Throughout the rest of the Improve it! exercises, common phrases came up repeatedly: “You cannot fail. We’re going to celebrate you and support you. Guide you out of your comfort zones.” Improve it!’s mission is not only to improve a company’s overall corporate culture, but also to focus on individual employees. Erin instilled that message into each attendee’s mindset, whether by explaining the importance of using the right tone of voice, making sure everyone’s nonverbal cues were being respected, or even changing the way attendees listened to one another’s conversations. When someone focuses on how they speak and act, the whole team will benefit.
Improve it!’s key takeaways:
- Pay attention to the words you say and how you say them.
- Use nonverbal techniques such as eye contact, body language and facial expressions to move a project forward.
- Listen to understand, not to respond.
- Respond in a way that acknowledges and authenticates other people’s thoughts and ideas.
As Erin’s workshop came to a close, the room was full of people smiling, laughing, and showing their true selves. The uncomfortable vibe from the beginning of the hour had disappeared. Everyone had taken part in multiple improv exercises that taught them how to listen, communicate, and speak to one another in a corporate setting. From doing the “chicken dance” to shouting a resounding “YES!” at the end of Erin’s session, improv had improved everyone’s morning, Erin’s way.