Corporate Team-Building Workshops with Walt Frasier
As Executive Producer of IMPROV THEATRE, LLC, Walt Frasier has worked with hundreds of teams from companies including Louis Vuitton, Twitter, and Morgan Stanley.
- TEAM BUILDING
- PUBLIC SPEAKING / PRESENTATIONS
- CUSTOMER SERVICE
- CONFLICT RESOLUTION (including Sexual harassment)
Improv Workshops are great to bring the team together and teach valuable skills. Always start with a basic workshop. Walt Frasier will customize based on your requests and team performance. Then follow up with in depth sessions that use Improv Role Playing to address management, sales, customer service, and conflict resolution.
For more information or to request dates and rates email IMPROV THEATRE, LLC at firstname.lastname@example.org OR call 212-568-6560
LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE
Humor and creativity work in similar ways, says humor guru William Fry, M.D., of Stanford University–by creating relationships between two disconnected items, you engage the whole brain.
Readers Digest was right all those years. What can laughter do? Here are just some benefits for mental, physical and social health… (See sources below)
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
- Give a workout to the diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles
- Reduce certain stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline
- Increase the response of tumor- and disease-killing cells such as Gamma-interferon and T-cells
- Defend against respiratory infections–reducing the frequency of colds–by immunoglobulon in saliva.
- Increase memory and learning; in a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, humor during instruction led to increased test scores
- Improve alertness, creativity, and memory
CORPORATE TEAM BUILDING
All teams should start with a basic team building session before going onto more serious programs found below. We customize this workshop slightly, but trust that often this simple workshop will solve many of your issues. Focus on the fun first!!! Give everyone a break. As laughter alone can reduce stress and increase alertness, creativity, memory etc. Your team is stronger already.
The team-building workshop is a 60-120 minute Improv Master Class of warm-up, technique and performance games. As is the art form teaches creativity (writing and critical thinking), community (team, respect, listening, focus, eye contact), and leadership (public speaking, self confidence). Based on your team Frasier ties in how these skills can help management, sales, customer service, and team development.
FRASIER’S RULE #1 HAVE FUN
“…but never at anyone’s expense.”
As we start to warm up having fun is so important. True laughter (not the fake laughter of covering fear and anxiety) makes it almost impossible to feel bad. Before we can address “problems” and “issues” we need to feel good about ourselves and our team. “I argue that the worst Improv Player ever is still entertaining when having fun.” Frasier teaches. “In time the player will learn the skills needed to master the artform, but I can get the most novice team ready to perform on some level in two hours or less.”
The brilliance of Improv is that ANYONE and EVERYONE can do it. It takes years of training and experience to become a professional you would pay to see perform.
Walt Frasier has had kids performing for parents after a 2-hour masterclass. Adults often take longer to change their ways. The walls are higher and thicker. Learn behaviors are deeper entrenched habits. The sooner you start to have fun, the quicker you start to see change for the better. The sooner you address and tackle the problem, the sooner success is in reach.
Plus, this world is full of negative influence. 24-hours news makes us more cynical by the minute. Let this workshop be the first step in a positive direction…
FRASIER’s RULE #2 WHEN IN DOUBT…
You get the picture? (Refer to rule #1)
IMPROV RULE #1 YES! And…
Everything we do in Improv is all about making the team look great. We proactively listen to our scene partners. We say/think “YES!” to everything our teammates say and do. We accept their offers and ideas. We agree that what they say is real in the world we are creating with our story. We than say/think “AND…”, responding with rich details that not only support out partner’s ideas, we also give our partners great material to work with.
NO BLOCKS / NEVER SAY NO!!!
Every time we say “NO!” we stop forward momentum. Similarly works like BUT, CAN’T, WON’T, DON’T and STOP “BLOCK” the scene by negating our partner’s choice.
And often we say “NO!” without using the word. Our body language screams it. Our choices can negate.
Never be afraid to ask questions in life. But in Improv they far too often put all the work on our scene partners. They allow us to be lazy and ride on the shoulders of other’s work.
Replace questions with great statements of details.
NO PRONOUNS: In Improv we are creating original scenes and stories. Every time you say “IT” or “THAT” or use non descriptive words like “THING” we avoid forwarding the sorry with detail.
So by replacing
“WHAT IS THAT THING?”
“Wow, that is an annoyingly loud chihuahua”
MAKE OUR TEAM LOOK GREAT
Beyond “YES! And…” Improv is all about taking the focus off self – inflated egos and insecurities – and put all of your focus on making your scene partner look great. While our team mates are speaking with listen with all 5 senses, hearing is just one.
When it is our time to speak, give your partner all the support by making BIG CHOICES that support your partner’s choices and give them material to play.
The creative team process becomes a series of choices building to great scene/story.
Recently a participant joke “I’m going to be the best. I always win.” HA HAs all around. But you could tell she is very competitive.
In theater and life, there is a lot of competition to get the job. But once you have the job, great work can only happen when the team works together. The project manager cannot be constantly undermined by someone that wants their job. The creative department and sales department serve none by one-upping the other. Techies have enough trouble communicating without resentment.
Once you have the job, come together to complete the work. Often the “overachiever” is overcompensating. Time to trust!!!
MAKE BIG MISTAKES
Frasier jokes “… unless you are my brain surgeon. Otherwise WHO CARES?!?”
Fear of making BIG MISTAKES shuts down the ability to make BIG CHOICES.
Don’t go out and MAKE BIG MISTAKES on purpose because Frasier said so. But mistakes are a part of life. Mistakes are a great way to learn. Mistakes often lead to discovery.
Mousy choices often lead to mistakes that go unnoticed. Nothing is learned, and eventually they can lead up to big problems.
Make a BIG mistake. Correct it. Learn from it.
And by not fearing the possibility of mistakes, we make great strides forward unencumbered.
Fear and insecurity are often the source of many workplace tensions. Fear of looking or sounding stupid is very real for many. Fear of messing up can keep many quiet, unproductive and away from the teams ultimate goals. Or fear and insecurity leads to over compensating egos.
All of the above are horrible for Improv. We need to relax and have fun. (When in doubt go back to Frasier’s #1 rule).
The most common question at end of session is “How do we bring this into the office?”
It starts with management. A great Project Manager will create – demand – a work environment that encourages ideas. By leading with “YES! And…” we promote creativity, respect and leadership in our team.
“YES! And…” does not happen over night. Frasier encourages Team Leaders to start all meetings with a game like ZIP ZAP ZUP or passing imaginary balls (taught in the workshops). Start the meeting with a laugh. Start by being silly. In 5 minute or less you will bring the team back to that fun time we all had together. Break down the walls before getting serious.
A team that is smiling will be more open to new things. Without ego and insecurity one can deal with challenges without focusing on self. Problems and challenges are not reasons to feel bad, they are just things that have to be dealt with. And focusing on the issues will lead to solutions. Focusing on self leads to resentment.
NOTHING IS HARD
During a team building workshop in 2015, a guest participant kept saying,”Improv is Hard”.
“You may be one of the best I have ever worked with from a corporate team” Frasier praised without exaggeration. “Stop using the word ‘HARD’ to describe things and they soon become much easier.”
NOTHING IS HARD!!! Perhaps you have not figured out the solution, or you may need to learn a skill to complete the task, but NOTHING IS HARD. Thinking something is hard makes it impossible. Labeling something as HARD often leads to failure. More often we just give up.
True leaders do not think about tasks as hard. They are just tasks that need to be completed and set out to complete them.
‘Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.’
President Snow (Donald Sutherland), Hunger Games.
“YES! And..” promote positive work environments. Although President Snow has the worst of intention he is completely right. Fear leads to shutting down and resentments. Employees cannot thrive under the stress of always being caught wrong. Would you rather work at Google or all too real scenario from OFFICE SPACE.
The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care. It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime, so where’s the motivation? And here’s something else, Bob: I have eight different bosses right now. Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.
Ron Livingston as Peter Gibbons
How often do you sit at work and feel, “No one ever listens to my ideas.”
We often work with teams of managers. Those managers can take what is learned and apply to their teams as well as management meetings.
To be a great manager, you need to be unencumbered by ego and insecurity. You need to have the confidence to strongly lead your team. You need to be a great listener to serve the needs of your team. You need to be able to communicate clearly to your team. You need to lead your team in meetings that are effective and productive. Ultimately you want to inspire greatness.
When you create a place people want to work, you get results. You get people that take pride in everything they do.
The basic Improv Workshop is often enough to solve most of your simple issues. Learning about “YES! And..”
ROLE PLAYING – Management, Sales, Service, Conflict Resolution
After we learn the basics we can get serious. We still have fun but know instead of random suggestions for Improv Games we address specific problems and issue your team has or could possibly expect.
- MANAGEMENT & EMPLOYEES INTERACTIONS
- SALES & COSTUMER INTERACTIONS
- CUSTOMER SERVICE SCENARIOS
- CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS
- INTEROFFICE CONFLICTS
- SEXUAL HARASSMENT / WORKPLACE HOSTILITIES
Rather than lecture and demand results, lets have fun. Lets recreate potential scenarios.
Comics often joke about phenomena called “MALEprov”. “MALEprov” is one of many terms given to guys that do not listen or otherwise work poorly with female performers. One New York Improv comedy troupe is using Team Building workshops and the concept of “MALEprov” to address Sexual Harassment in the workplace.
“We guys are not famous for our listening skills,” jokes Walt Frasier, co-founder and executive producer of IMPROV THEATRE, LLC. “My female colleagues joke about MALEprov all the time.”
For many comediennes, this is no joke. Outside of the theater, this practice of men disrespecting women is just one of many hostilities women have to navigate in the workplace.
At a recent level one team-building event in New York, Frasier introduced the concept of “MALEprov” when a potentially wonderful scene when horribly wrong.
A very talented woman started a scene with a great suggestion. Her gentleman scene partner responded with absolutely nothing to do with the offers from the first statement. In response, the lady capitulated and added some more great details about riding an elephant, creating a very interesting action and forwarding the scene. The guy responded, “No, that’s a scooter.”
“OK STOP!” Frasier frustratingly interjected. “Remember that first rule of Improv? ‘YES! And…’”
Frasier noticed an extreme change in the woman’s demeanor. What started as a very fun experience quickly became painful. This woman was clearly no stranger to hostilities by male coworkers. After getting shot down twice, she gave up trying and physically showed signs of depression.
“Don’t let our ignorance affect your confidence,” Frasier instructed.
“I don’t want to pick on the guys,” continue Frasier. “The stresses of the workplace, as in Improvisation, bring out the best and worst in all of us. ’MALEprov’ is just one of many blocks to creating a great Improv team. If we are aware of the problem we can start to fix it.”
SOURCES for SCIENTIFIC CLAIMS…
http://www.laughteryogaamerica.com/services/laughter-education-733.php http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080407114617.htm http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200304/the-benefits-laughter http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/laughter.htm http://www.everydayhealth.com/womens-health/health-benefits-of-laughter.aspx http://ririanproject.com/2007/10/26/10-benefits-of-laughter-and-how-to-use-it/