If you would like to try something new and fun that can help you as a business owner, try taking an improv class. It may not be what first comes to mind as a traditional learning environment for the purpose of developing new skills, but what you will discover about yourself in the process is priceless.

You may be wondering what exactly improv is and why learning improv may be of benefit to you as a business owner.

Improv is basically acting without a script or costumes and few if any props. The audience often creates the scenarios and character traits for the actors. Some of the actors may not be made aware of this information but must play along as if they know what they don't know.

The workshop I attended was a one day introduction to the basics of performing improvisation described as a 'crash course in improv'. Through various games and exercises (alternating as actors and audience) we learned how to perform without the luxury of a script or rehearsal and sometimes without intelligible language. In one exercise we could only communicate using the language of 'gibberish'. Each actor quickly tried to convey their character and the setting through movement and meaningless babble so that the other actors could react appropriately. The laughter never stopped!

What can you learn from all of this playfulness that can be applied in your business?

There are some key skills improv teaches you and developing these abilities can complement your work. They are:

1. Thinking on your feet. Being spontaneous, creative and working without a script go hand in hand with improv. In business we often need to react quickly to unexpected events, adjust to changes and come up with creative solutions.

2. Hone your listening and communication skills and improve memory. While performing improv you have to work as a team, focus on what others are saying and then respond appropriately. Maintaining clear and consistent communication is one of the most important aspects of a relationship with a client. Listening and responding proactively, replying to messages in a timely fashion and ongoing progress reports are top priority.

3. Building confidence. Performing in front of an audience is beyond our comfort zones for many of us. We wonder if we said the right thing and what people are thinking. Improv classes teach you to get out of your head and learn to trust your instincts. As an expert in your chosen field, these skills allow you to speak with self-assurance to prospects and can open up public speaking opportunities.

4. Risk Taking. We learn the 'Yes and…' principle in improv. This means we reply with 'Yes and...' to whatever someone says to us and run with the idea to see where it leads. Often in life and business our natural reaction is to play it safe or shut down an idea with an excuse as to why something can't be done. However, taking a risk can open up a whole new revenue stream and a world of possibilities.

5. Self Awareness. We can learn a lot about ourselves in an improv class. Stephanie, our instructor, commented that within the first 10 minutes of a class, she sees personalities begin to emerge. The exercises improve our awareness of natural strengths and areas that need improvement for personal growth and success.

If you haven't already, get involved in an improv class. It is both an entertaining and learning experience and the fun and laughter are guaranteed.

Author's Bio: 

As a Virtual Assistant (VA), Jennifer Hazlett provides offsite administrative help from her home based office to business owners with a multitude of office management and technical tasks, giving clients the expertise they need and more time to focus on growing their business. Sign up at Jennifer's website, Alternate Admin http://www.altadmin.ca/ for your complimentary report "101 Ways to Boost Business with a Virtual Assistant".