Improv for Freelancers

Posted by A. Smith on Mar-24-2010

Today marks one week since I came home from SXSW with high hopes of spending some time reflecting on my experience. Well, let’s leave it at this…time management is not my strength. My thoughts remain jumbled. So, I am going to improvise, which is fitting because I am going to write about an improv workshop I attended at SXSW that could change the way I work, maybe even the way I live.

I always connected improv with comedy until about a month ago when I was enjoying coffee with @DaveWeinberg, a Maine creative versed in improv. He drew a parallel between improv and life, and I was instantly intrigued by this connection. After all, we never really know what we’re going to say next, do we?

So, when I ran across Improv for Freelancers (by Amanda & Jordan Hirsch) in my SXSW planning, I immediately added it to my agenda. And, boy, am I glad I did. As freelancers, we are always writing our own script. And, as Jordan put it, “This is both exhilarating and terrifying.”

Here are 10 improv lessons I learned that will help ensure freelancing is exhilarating:

  1. Practice being in the moment. Don’t think ahead. Live in the now.
  2. Be an active listener. Listen, listen, listen, and absorb what your client is saying.
  3. Take in more than words. Sometimes what people say and what they mean are different. For example, if a client says, “The graphics on this website need to be bigger, and we need to add red,” chances are what they mean is “Make the site bolder.”
  4. Strip yourself of instinct. Listen and process, then respond.
  5. Come on stage knowing something but not everything. Be open to what your client brings to the table.
  6. Respect people’s ideas. You are not always going to love your client’s ideas, but you should always respect them.
  7. Add value to the conversation. With every line, accept what your client is communicating and build on it.
  8. Stay in the positive. Improv is about learning to respond, “Yes, and…” – even when the answer is really “no.” Here’s a sample scenario:
    Client: “I would like to meet today.”
    You: “Yes, and I would, too. However, I am booked. How about we get    together first thing in the morning?”
  9. Make a commitment – and declare it. You can always change your choice, but be bold and make a choice in the first place. Get in the action.
  10. Be in the scene you want to be in. Invent your career. Live out your passion. And, give it all you’ve got

I love these ideas, and I hope to incorporate them into my own life. After this workshop, I even had someone say to me, “If you want to change your life, study improv. Seriously, it will change the way you think.

Ironically, in the middle of writing this post, I received a message from @DaveWeinstein about an upcoming improv workshop in Portland, Maine. The thought alone takes me way outside my comfort zone, but then again, I just might have to commit.

  1. Tweets that mention A Smith Consultancy…Bringing Stories to Life » Blog Archive » Improv for Freelancers -- Said,

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Angela Smith and Jordan Hirsch, Amanda Hirsch. Amanda Hirsch said: Improv claims another :) RT @ASmithConsult: New post: Improv for Freelance inspired by @amanda_hirsch & @tfish77 [...]

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