To succeed, you’ve gotta keep movin’ on.

Last week I shared a few basic principles used by all successful improvisational comics. And there’s more where that came from. Here are three more comedy rules you can apply in the serious world of business.

Make “actional” choices.

In an improv scene, this means physically moving, introducing some action into the scene. Moving gives you time to think, and physical activity keeps the audience engaged.

In a business context, this could mean something as simple as getting out of your office to take a quick walk, or re-locating to a coffee shop, or picking up the phone to call a trusted colleague for input – anything that will physically take you out of any mental rut you’ve stumbled into.

Listen, watch, and concentrate.

Having only a fraction of your attention on a task is probably a lot more common than most of us realize. One reason for that may be a lack of immediate feedback you can use to get back on track.

When you’re doing an improv skit, however, you are completely in the moment, and feedback is practically instantaneous. If you tune out, even briefly, you run the very real risk of being caught with literally nothing to say or do, other than stand there looking clueless. Trust me: It’s not a pretty sight.

So what can you do to sharpen your concentration?

Work to the top of your intelligence.

In improv, this rule translates into resisting the temptation to go for cheap laughs, “bathroom humor,” and clichés. Instead, the goal is to stretch yourself beyond the quick (and often lazy) response.

In a business setting, I like to expand this concept to also include working to the top of your options. What do I mean by this? Let’s take using LinkedIn as an example.

How many times have you gotten a connection request from someone who couldn’t be bothered to personalize it, but instead chose to go with the canned request? How excited were you about receiving that “Please add me to your LinkedIn network” message? This is an example of a quick and lazy response that’s definitely not as good as it could be.

On the other hand, think how much more you to want to connect with someone who takes time to say why they’re connecting and how they feel such a connection will be a win/win.

Whether it’s making your own LinkedIn connection request, creating a new digital product, or crafting a new training session, be sure your goal is to do work that’s good – not adequate, not “perfect” (because good luck with that) – good.


Which of these resonates most with you as an improv technique you can use to increase your business success?

Or does the idea of trying to address one more idea make you go wild-eyed because there’s already so much damn stuff on your plate?

If that’s the case, let me share some highly actionable tools with you to help you dig out. Just email me with “I want help digging out!” in the subject line, and I’ll send you a cheat sheet drawn from the best ideas in my e-book, Your To Do List is Not the Boss of You!

(BTW, thanks to A.Currell for posting the green walk sign in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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