How much do I want to read more? 7/10
This book is short and good.
I recognize myself in the caveats of public speaking. Being too much self-conscious, not responding to a real-time change of trajectory.
Good advice and philosophy to improve conversations.
Will Ferrell was one of my early role models and my first “man-crush”
I was just unable to follow the very, simple rules of improv comedy because I was too self-conscious. It was the classic case of being too in your own head, which fuels the cycle of self-consciousness and impaired performance.
I was just too focused on rehearsing what I wanted to say in my head, which prevented me from truly listening to others. I would listen to them, but ignore the signals and direction they were giving me and stubbornly proceed on my own path. I waited for my turn to speak.
In my head, I thought that I already knew what the outcome and trajectory of a scenario would be, so anything that was even slightly dissimilar from that threw me off monumentally. I didn’t allow for the possibility of tangential directions, and was not confident enough to simply go with an unfamiliar flow.
If you think those are bad in conversation, they’re exponentially worse in improv comedy
Thankfully sooner rather than later, one of my friends sat me down and explained that my approach was fundamentally wrong.
Improv is a group dance that ebbs and flows with what each member of the group is doing. The group always stays together, because even if you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable with a certain type of dance, you’ll be supported and helped by others through it to work towards a shared goal.
About three months after I started coaching clients full-time, I realized that perhaps my attempt to be the second Will Ferrell could still pay off in some way. It occurred to me that just about everything I was teaching clients about social interaction, conversation, thinking on their feet, and witty banter – they were all intimately similar to the lessons I learned in improv comedy.
Improv comedy above all else teaches flow, and the ability to make something out of nothing – both of those things in pursuit of a common shared goal of a lasting interaction and deep connection with the people involved.
Often, people feel like they lack flow, embody awkwardness, and simply have nothing to say to other people. They also feel like they want to walk away from a conversation with a better understanding of the other person, with a connection made.
Eliminate awkward silences and make conversation flow smoothly? Listen better, go deeper, and connect effortlessly? Verbally banter and spar without having to think about what to say? Ditch self-consciousness and put yourself into unfamiliar situations? Check, check, check.
Let’s take advantage of the framework that improv comedy has laid down for us, and discover how and why improv comedy players never run out of things to say, always seem sharp and witty, think quickly on their feet, and give the best witty banter in the world.
Chapter 1: Just improv(e) your conversations!
Great conversations don’t just appear spontaneously out of thin air.
How can you emulate that feeling of a great, flowing conversation with anyone you meet, anywhere you go?
This doesn’t happen without preparation and planning.
But planning in this sense isn’t rehearsing scripts and trying to think of interview questions to mask awkward silences.
if you want your conversations and interactions to be more insightful and effective, you need to have a basic understanding of the anatomy of a great conversation.
If you’ve ever seen an improv comedy show, you’ll know that they call themselves players, and treat it like a sport rather than a performance. This is significant, because it instantly frames what you see on stage as a collaborative process where everyone is helping everyone else. They are constantly working towards a common goal, and understand the flexibility and sacrifices required to reach it.
Spontaneity and flow.
Improv comics take each performance on its own terms, and come in with zero expectations
This mindset by itself is transformative in creating a sense of openness and flexibility that gives life to great conversations.
Their flow inevitably fits the mood of their audience.
Being emotionally in tune.
What separates great improv from lousy improv is how in tune the comics are with other people’s emotions that are being conveyed.
When you understand the emotional state of your audience and other players, you are basically given a template for where to go
It’s all about seeing the given emotional boundaries for your conversation, and catering towards what people are conveying and want to talk about.
All it takes is a little bit of observation, and being willing to deviate from any blueprint you set for an interaction beforehand.
If someone conveys that they are angry or sad and we completely miss it, an awkward and uncomfortable situation arises. We think they’re being weird and standoffish, while they think we are being oblivious and insensitive.
Most people like to talk to people that are fun. When you break it down, there are only a few benefits that people receive from conversations, and fun and entertainment is a major one.
If you are able to establish a fun atmosphere in your conversations, people will simply enjoy being around you more and subsequently will open up to you more. The more likable someone is, the closer they are to the keys to the kingdom.
One of the keys to creating fun is to let go of the standard interview questions, filter you less, and think outside the box.
There’s no right or wrong.
If they establish that atmosphere of collaboration and working towards a common goal, they know that they will be supported in any direction they go. This is extremely comforting, and allows them to take leaps of faith that might be high-risk and high-reward. It allows them to not play it safe, if they know that they will never crash and burn because of the support of their players.
If you want to become a better conversationalist, always understand that you're not engaged in a debate. There is no right or wrong answer. What you're shooting for is to establish an atmosphere of likeability and collaboration.
and that’s difficult when you are constantly debating, arguing, selling them, or trying to change their minds.
The power of improv.
Conversation is a learned skill that takes practice, so it’s time to realize that and consciously practice it.
Many people stray from social interaction and conversation because it can be so unpredictable. What if it’s awkward, they hate you, think you’re weird, or don’t laugh at any of your jokes?
This compels some people to essentially have a script in their head every time they talk to people, in an attempt to make it more unpredictable and more comfortable.
But that’s not reality. If you use a template, just one detail that doesn't fit the template can throw the conversation off. You’ll be lost even worse than before.
We must realize that each and every moment ebbs and flows with an emotional energy, and we must cater to it.
When you know the emotional and contextual situation that is being conveyed, you have your guidepost, compass, and map.