One of the most useful skills you can develop, whether it's as an improv comedian or in your “regular life,” is the ability to be in the moment.
Here is an example of the improv game, “Last Letter, First Letter.” In this game I tell a story, but each sentence has to start with a word whose first letter is the same as the last letter of the last word of the previous sentence.
Take a look:
This is a fun game, but what I like about it from an improv standpoint is that it forces you to be absolutely in the moment.
In many other games, whether they are storytelling or scene based, you can plan a little bit ahead, and think of what you're going to say next, even as you are finishing the current sentence.
In this game, you can't really think ahead, because you have no idea what the first letter of the first word of the next sentence will be until you finish what you are saying. When this game was first developed, it was designed as a way of forcing improvisers to not think ahead and stay in the moment. While this game forces it, this is an incredibly useful skill that leads to funnier, more creative and more collaborative improv comedy in any improv game..
Off-stage, this idea of staying in the moment is also incredibly powerful. If you can apply this in the “real world,” you will reap three benefits:
- Your conversations will improve because you will be forced to listen to the other person rather than getting wrapped up in your own head, thinking about your response. This improves rapport and communication.
- It helps with brainstorming. Rather than using your conscious mind (which is weak) to think of new ideas, when you stay in the moment you let yourself (and your powerful subconscious) be inspired by the ideas you're currently hearing. And this can even work if you are coming up with all the ideas yourself, because you're letting yourself be in the moment and springboarding new ideas off the current ones you're saying. Too many people when they brainstorm “think” very hard and don’t pay attention to ideas being generated and are never really inspired.
- Being in the moment is the key to improving productivity. When you can just focus on what you are doing right here right now, in this moment, you put all your energy on it, and things get done faster and at higher quality. One of the biggest killers of productivity is when our minds are filled with things, ideas, worries, and concerns outside of what we are currently working on.
So if you want to improve communication, have better creativity and brainstorming, and have greater productivity, take the lesson from “Last Letter, First. Letter,” and stay in the moment! Give it a try and let me know how it goes.