Do you struggle to communicate effectively? You’re not alone. Whether in a personal or professional setting, being able to speak with and listen to others sets the stage for your relationships. When it comes to communication training, how can you learn to be better? The answer may surprise you: improv comedy!
My guest today is comedienne Tracy Locke, the professional warm up comedienne for the Mel Robbins show. Tracy is the co-owner of Productively Funny, a company that incorporates improv comedy into corporate training workshops. They use humor to help businesses improve communication skills of their staff.
If you missed part 1 of my interview with Tracy, you can download it here.
Talking Over One Another
One of the most frequent complaints that people have in communication is that we all seem to be speaking over each other. As Tracy discusses at 3:05, the key to communicating is listening rather than speaking. You cannot speak on a topic if you aren’t paying attention to one another. Instead of checking your phone, you must give someone your undivided attention in business and personal relations.
A key part of communication training is teaching people to not just wait for their turn to talk. Listening is vital to work together.
The Future of Communication
Unfortunately, our reliance on technology as a form of communication likely will not change. At 5:00, Tracy explains how technology is a tool that should help your ability to communicate, but it has actually taken over. We no longer speak with each other – we are always on our phones. If you don’t listen to another person, how can you expect to add to a conversation?
Are You Present in the Moment?
Improv teaches participants to always be present in the moment. This lesson is vital for countless phases of business and life.
Listen at 7:15 where Tracy discusses how important it is to always be in the moment. Whether you are speaking to one person or performing in front of a large crowd, people can always tell if you’re paying attention. There is something in human contact that can identify if someone is fully engaged with you. Without this engagement, it is impossible to build trust and an open and honest relationship.
The Importance of Listening
Can someone become a better listener? At 11:35, Tracy explains that it is possible, as long as the person understands the reason why listening is so important. During communication training, individuals are put into someone else’s shoes. It’s only when they see what another person experiences that they understand how their actions can have certain effects. This understanding lets the trainee see the value in becoming a better listener.
Being Vulnerable and Authentic
What is the key to communication? Listen at 19:30 where Tracy discusses the importance of being vulnerable and authentic. People innately know when you are being truthful, and they find comfort in someone who is actually trying to help them. Whether you are trying to close a sale or you are attempting to improve a relationship with a friend, being vulnerable and authentic will get you further.
Resistance to Change
Millennials get a bad rap in the media. As Tracy explains at 23:15, the criticisms are often undeserved. She says that when it comes to communication training, millennials are less open to change than their baby boomer counterparts are. However, once you break down the barrier and show younger workers that they don’t look “weird” in training, they are more open to change. Once they’re in training, they’re totally into it.
If you liked my interview with Tracy, you can download more episodes of The Profit Express to help you on the road to success.
Communicating with each other. It’s something we all have to do, and it’s something that has a massive impact on your success in business. Ineffective communication can affect leadership, creativity, sales, and connecting with clients. When it comes to improving communication skills, Corporate America has come across an unlikely resource: improv comedy!
My guest today is no stranger to improv. She is comedienne Tracy Locke, the professional warm up comedienne for the Mel Robbins show. Tracy is also the co-owner of Productively Funny, a training company that incorporates improv comedy into corporate training workshops. They work with businesses in need of support with improving communication skills, and they use humor to do it.
Learning to Love Improv
Being funny was always part of Tracy’s life. It wasn’t until she started her first job out of college that she learned she could make money from her humor.
Listen at 4:40 to hear Tracy’s story. She graduated with a degree in Communications before moving to Denver to be a reporter, where she covered many serious local stories. In between reports, she would make jokes with her coworkers, who told her that she was in the wrong profession. A friend was taking early improv classes with UCB (including some with SNL comedienne Amy Poehler). Once Tracy’s company moved her to New York City, she also began taking the classes, where she quickly fell in love with the practice.
What is Improv Comedy?
Many people hear “improv” and equate it with standup comedy. At 8:24, Tracy explains the difference between the two styles. Improv isn’t about “being funny” as much as it is about listening and adding to the scene. You can only make your partners look good if you listen. If you’re willing to say yes and then add to what’s happening, it can make a major difference in your life.
Being in the Moment
Improv is all about being in the moment. The practice makes you slow down and pay attention to what’s happening around you. Listen at 10:35 where Tracy talks about sharing her love of improv with special needs kids. The children she taught had no problem interacting with each other and staying in the moment.
The Most Common Communication Issues
What are some of the most common issues that businesses have? At 14:23, Tracy discusses how improving communication skills often comes down to addressing multi-generational workspaces. The advent of technology is something that many do not think about, yet it affects how we interact with each other. Different generations interact in different ways, and it can impact how a company functions.
Having Fun in Training
How would Tracy approach teaching a phone-dependent individual that his or her actions are disrespectful? At 17:25, Tracy discusses how a typical training goes. In many cases, role reversal is the most effective improv training exercise. Simply switching roles opens eyes on both sides, allowing the two parties to discuss communication issues in a fun and open setting.
The Challenge of Multiculturalism
Technology and a melting pot society has made it possible for us to work and interact with people from every culture. Listen at 20:45 where Tracy details how different cultures bring a different set of challenges to the communication game.
An example of these differences is in Asian culture. In many business atmospheres, eye contact and speaking directly to someone is standard. However, these communication practices are considered aggressive in Asian countries. Indian culture has different forms of “yes,” with one meaning “I understand” and another meaning “I comply.” These subtle differences have a huge impact on communication. Productively Funny has several different exercises that address challenges.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview with Tracy, where we discuss one of the most common problems with communication in our society: we’re all talking over each other!
If you liked my interview with Tracy, download more episodes of The Profit Express to inspire you on your journey to success.