Applied Improvisation: Make a Strong Offer

It’s easy to come up with a lot of ideas. What separates people and organizations who succeed from those who struggle is that the ones who succeed take bold action. In improv (and applied improvisation), we call this, “making a strong offer.” In this video, Avish explains what that means and how you can use it.


Applied Improvisation: Make a Strong Offer

Scene 1:

– Hey Avish, are you looking forward to your first day of work?

– I am. It’s a good job and I’m really excited about it.

Scene 2:

-Hey Avish, are you looking forward to your first day of work?

– I am because I’ve got this plan where I’m going to go and steal all their corporate secrets and sell it to their competitors and retire as a rich man.

So which of those two scenes would you like to see continued? Which Would you like to see more of? I’m guessing it was the second one, right, because the first one was kind of boring because someone’s excited about their first day, and in the second we had a more interesting story where something might happen.

That’s because the second scene had what we call in improv a strong offer. It makes for interesting scenes, it makes for great improv and in this video I’m going to share how it’s going to help you be more successful in your personal and professional life.

In improv comedy there’s a concept called an “offer”. An offer is anything you say or do in a scene that moves the action forward or gives direction as to where things are going to go. Now in improv you can have strong offers or weak offers.

A weak offer is something that is really vague, it’s not clear and it doesn’t move anything forward. So in the opening scene when I said “yeah, I’m excited because it’s a good job,” that didn’t really offer anything back. It wasn’t strong, nothing happened. It didn’t advance the action.

A strong offer moves the action forward and gives a clear idea of where things are going. So in the second scene when I talked about stealing their corporate secrets and selling them, that gives you a good idea of where things are going to go and it moves the scene forward because it went from this vague thing about a first day at work to something very strong about moving things forward. This is the difference in improv comedy between a good scene that people like to watch and something that’s kind of boring and just spinning its wheels.

Improv Comedy Scene:

Avish: Now before you get started, we’re going to make things just a little bit more complicated. Before we even know what the play is about let’s set something up in the scene. Let’s say that we have a relationship somehow. It doesn’t have to be a blood or a romantic relation but how might two people be connected to each other?

Audience: Archaeologist

Avish: We are both archaeologists… Alright we are archaeologists. Excellent. And just to mix things up a little bit more, let’s say as an archaeologist, I have some goal in this scene. What is my objective? It can be archaeology related or not. What might a person want? What’s that? To ask her out on a date? Oh to dig? Well let’s just do both. I want to ask her out on a date where we go digging. Now apparently my last story made people like okay you need a date. Even though I’m married now. Are you ready?

Lady: sure!

Avish: You know Jena, I have been thinking that the two of us should spend more time out in the world digging together.

Lady: Are you testing me?

Avish: I am. I wanna see if you might be interested at all in me maybe beyond archaeological sense.

Lady: To see if I’ll pick it up?

Avish: Yes, if you pick up that shovel then the two of us can start digging and it’d be like a date.

Lady: No!

Avish: You know, I’ve faced a lot of rejection in my life before but usually I like it if they give me a reason. Can you tell me why you don’t want to go on a date with me?

Lady: I just wish you wouldn’t leave it out in the open like that!

Avish: Oh I see. This is about the time I left your archaeological tools out and forgot to put them away. Oh I’m sorry. I apologized so many times. Can’t you forgive me?

Lady: No. I don’t know how. I couldn’t. It’s not loaded!

Avish: You’re right. My heart isn’t loaded. My heart is empty. It’s so lonely out here digging and you bring warmth to my life.

Lady: I really don’t want to.

Avish: Uh fine. We got a new batch of interns coming!

End Improv Scene

So that’s an example of how that works, playing improv in front of a live audience, and it’s the difference between what makes a scene fun and what makes a scene boring.

Off-stage in your life, whether it’s in your personal life or at your job, or in the business you may own, the same kind of rule applies. You have a lot of ideas and a lot of things are going on and you have the option of making a weak offer and a strong offer.

When you make a strong offer that is when you’re going to find that things start to happen. When a lot of people just have a lot of ideas but don’t do anything or if they do something, that’s a very weak step that doesn’t move them forward or it doesn’t give them any feedback.

A weak offer is like: let me do some research. Let me think about it. Let me maybe get together and have a meeting to discuss it further. That seems like it’s doing something but that’s the equivalent of saying I’m excited about my new job.

A strong offer is saying “yes! Let me put together a demo. Let’s do a pilot program. Let me try to sell one product to this client. Let me try a new pitch. Let me go talk to that person who I haven’t had a conversation with yet.”

You’re taking an action. It’s strong, it’s a step forward and it gives clarity about your next steps. So when you find yourself whether it’s going through a change or when a new idea pops in your head, really think about am I making a strong offer or a weak offer? The more string offers you make, the faster and more effectively you’ll move forward towards your goals and towards greater success.

Hey Avish! Are you looking forward to your first day of work?

Yes. I can’t wait to get started. – WEAK

Yes. I can’t wait to start diffusing bombs as part of the police bomb squad. – STRONG

No. Not really – WEAK

No because I hate the fact that I have to work for my ex-wife. – STRONG

Yes. I think it’s going to be a great job. – WEAK

No. I’m terrified that they’ll find out that I have no idea about how to perform open heart surgery. – STRONG

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