guy jumping off cliff

Say yes to something that scares you

Let’s take the leap into 2015 together! This year we hope to make our monthly emails more helpful by sharing rock-solid, real-life examples of how you can use improv skills at work and at home. And we hope you’ll share your experiences with us, too!

This month, we challenge you to say YES to something that scares you. Something that makes your heart beat fast and gives you butterflies in your stomach. A feat that feels like jumping off a cliff.

Last week, Elizabeth did something that’s been scaring her for 5+ years. She tried open mic improv poetry. Yes, it’s as scary as it sounds. Putting your name in a hat. Standing at a microphone in front of strangers. Asking for a topic. And blurting out a poem that you make up as you go. It was terrifying. And it was awesome. Like jumping into the deep end of the pool and making it to the side safely. Whew!

Doing something scary makes you feel alive. So try it this month. It can be as bold as sky diving or asking your boss for a raise. Or as simple as sending your dinner back to the kitchen because your steak wasn’t cooked right. It doesn’t matter what it is. As long as it makes you breathe a little faster and feel a whoosh of relief when it’s over.

Then contact us and let us know what you did that scared you, and how it felt. Or post a note on our Facebook page. Or tweet it @dumoreimprov. We don’t care. Just share the scare.

Be brave,
Allison & Elizabeth

Find Your Greatness

Hmmmmm. Is this what they mean by saying “yes, and”?

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

6 Holiday Survival Tips from DuMore Improv

Merry Whatever! Awkward office parties, tense family festivities and the same list of New Year’s resolutions you’ve made for the last 10 years can make even the perkiest elf feel a little Grinchy. Save your holiday season with 6 improv survival techniques from the DuMore Improv gang.

DO say “yes, and” to unexpected holiday invitations.
DON’T feel obligated to attend your creepy co-worker’s “Pantsless Elf” party.

DO listen carefully to family & friends for clues about what they want for Christmas.
DON’T believe them when they say they don’t want anything. They do.

DO practice your presentation skills on Christmas morning.
DON’T bore your family with a PowerPoint presentation explaining your shopping strategy and expected ROI.

DON’T shut down new ideas for grandma’s gift this year.
DO steer the conversation in a new direction if it involves a trip to Victoria’s Secret.

DO clearly communicate your holiday wish list to your family & friends.
DON’T title your list “Stuff That’s Better Than the Junk You Usually Give Me”.

DO make good offers by donating to your favorite charities.
DON’T give money to a guy dressed as an elf with no pants. Even if he invites you to his party.

May your holiday season be merry and bright. And filled with improvised cheer!

SEE YOU IN THE NEW YEAR!
Allison & Elizabeth

Awkward Santa photo

The one time it’s okay to say “no, but”.

Cat Stevens costume

It’s time for a trick & a treat…

It’s that magical time of year when you’re forced to pull together the most-amazing-costume-ever at 9:23pm the night before Halloween. So we thought we’d help out this year with a Trick AND a Treat.

Here’s your trick. 4 simple steps for improvising a last-minute Halloween costume.

1) Hit the 24-hour grocery for black eyeliner, a headband and black construction paper.

2) Make cat ears with the headband and construction paper.

3) Draw whiskers on your face with eyeliner.

4) Brainstorm your favorite CAT word and add appropriate props. Grab the dictionary for some help. Think catatonic, catastrophe, catalytic converter, catalyst, cat litter and so on. Or just pick up your guitar & go as folk musician Cat Stevens! (see picture at top)

Now, here’s a treat. We compiled our survey results from last month and wanted to share the highlights — so you can see what’s on your colleagues’ minds these days.

Hot business topics that keep us up at night:

  • Disruption + new, smaller vendors upsetting the market
  • Using the Cloud for collaboration
  • Leadership, conflict and accountability

Newsletters & blogs we’re reading every week:

Favorite DuMore Improv workshops:

  • Storytelling for Business
  • Fearless Presentation Skills
  • Emotional Intelligence and Improv EQ

Get to work on your amazing cat costume. Then post your costume photos on our Facebook page to let us all know how it turned out. Meow!

STAY SCARY,
Allison & Elizabeth

Grumpy Cat costume

Don’t forget the classic Grumpy Cat costume.

August Sunday Summer

What I Like About August Is…

What I like about August is… savoring the last days of summer amidst the buzz of back-to-school time. August is all about making the most of the moment, while looking forward to learning new things.

So we thought now is the perfect time to teach you a new trick to help you embrace the end of summer. It’s one of our favorite improv games called “What I Like About That Is…”

Here’s how you play:

  1. Engage in conversation with someone. Anyone. Your friend, your kid, your co-worker, your coffee barista. Whoever is around.
  2. No matter what the other person says, start your reply with “what I like about that is…”
  3. Say (or just think to yourself) “what I like about that is…” every time you speak and see where the conversation takes you. Notice if the other person smiles and nods a bit more.
Here’s how it works:
  • Knowing that you are going to reply with “what I like about that is…” forces you to listen with a positive ear. So you turn off your hyper critical mind and only hear the good stuff.
  • When your conversation partner discovers that you like what they’re saying, you’ll connect and build an alliance. It feels good to have someone like your idea.
  • Instead of “what I like about that is…”, you can say other things like:
    • What I respect about that is…
    • What I appreciate that is…
    • What’s cool about that is…

Now go find out what you like about things! Drop us an email or say hello on Facebook to let us know how it’s going.

Forward this improv game to a friend, so they can learn to listen with a positive ear!

ENJOY AUGUST!
Allison & Elizabeth

Um, when does the pool close?

French Bulldog Pool

improv workshop charleston

The Million Dollar Improv Question

Summer’s officially here and it’s the perfect time to plan a team building event for your group. Curious how to convince your boss or leadership team that it’s a good idea? Send them these articles that prove it!

How to Think Better, Faster on Your Feet CNN.com

Can Executives Learn to Ignore the Script? The New York Times

Yes, And Improv Techniques to Make You a Better Boss Fast Company

Forget PowerPoint: Improv is the New (Old) Way to Sell Huffington Post

Need more help? We’re happy to hop on a call or set up a face-to-face to help you tell your story. And if all else fails, improvise!

P.S. Join us on Facebook for the Summer of Improv. New improv challenges every week!

CHEERS!
Allison & Elizabeth

Now, wait a minute. Was today the office improv off-site?

empty_office

3 cool things you’ve gotta do this month

Do you have a raging case of March Madness, Spring Fever or the Irish Flu (aka St. Patrick’s Day)? Here at DuMore Improv HQ we found 3 more things to get excited about this month. Add these items to the top of your to-do list for March.

1. Check out our new web site! The freshly refreshed DuMore Improv website now features workshop descriptions, pricing details and more. Be sure to share it with your friends and colleagues.

2. Register for the Southeast’s Interactive FestivalDIG South –  taking place April 9-13 in Charleston, SC. DuMore Improv is presenting our “So, What’s Your Story?” workshop about the art of storytelling for business. And we’re going to have a rockin’ refreshment booth in the concourse, a giant wall of innovation and new interactive activities every 30 minutes. Intrigued? We are too! If you are in the area, come hang out with us.

3. Book your fall workshops now! Our fall calendar is already filling up with higher ed orientation workshops and team building sessions. If you are considering a back-to-school or post-summer session, we’d love to get you on our schedule as soon as possible. Call or email us to discuss workshop topics and dates.

Okay, all done? Now you can go work on your NCAA bracket. AND, if you email us your pick for the #1 NCAA Championship winning team, anyone who gets it right will win a DuMore Improv March Madness prize pack! Just send us your name, mailing address & prediction for the final championship winning team.

HAPPY MARCH MADNESS!

Cheers, Allison & Elizabeth

Elizabeth & Allison working on their free throws!

Allison_Elizabeth_Basketball

Let’s talk great partnerships, Valentine’s Day and cute kittens

Okay, we usually don’t get all crazy for kittens, but since it’s Valentine’s Day weekend and we’ve been thinking about partnerships – we couldn’t resist. Repeat after me. Awwwwwwwww. We thought this would be a great time to celebrate partners of all kinds. We’ve been working with some amazing business buddies over the past few months and we want to show them some love with a little shout out.

Candid Partners – Stacy Brees, Merrick Olives and the entire super smart crew at Candid Partners knows how to get it done. Not only are they great at management and technology consulting, but they totally understand how incorporating emotional intelligence and improv skills training with DuMore Improv helps set the stage for their client’s success. If you need a problem-solving partner, you will love these guys and gals.

Laura Camacho & Jocelyn Ring – There’s nothing more fun than partnering with other savvy women to help businesses improve the way they develop and communicate strategies. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Laura of the Mixonian Institute and Jocelyn of The Ring Effect to create a new workshop called Message & Mindset: The Building Blocks of Proactive Communication. This session combines all of our superpowers. Improv + Communication Skills + Strategy Visualization = KAPOW! Let us know if you are interested in learning more about this special offering.

DIG South – We’ve had a huge crush on the folks at DIG South since we first met them last April at the Southeast’s most awesome Interactive Festival ever. We’re partnering with them again this year to craft a crazy interactive improv presentation, a totally rad refreshment booth and who knows what else. Hats off to them for always listening to our wild ideas and saying “yes, and!”

Drop us a line (or a Valentine) if you’d like to partner with us in 2014. Simply reply to this email and we’ll get something started.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY
Cheers, Allison & Elizabeth

We heart dogs, too!
One more time. Awwwwwwwww.

dog_partners

Emotional Intelligence

3 Easy Ways to Raise your EQ in 2014

Are you still looking for the perfect New Year’s Resolution? Try raising your EQ! No gym membership or exercise required. Just 3 easy steps to improve your emotional intelligence and up your Emotional Quotient. And if you’re wondering “what the heck is EQ?”, here’s a quick primer. According to Harvard theorist Howard Gardner, “Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.” These abilities can be enhanced through improv training and by applying these 3 tips to your daily life and work.

1) Listening & Observing – The next time you have a conversation with someone, listen closely to what they are saying and watch their nonverbal body language. The more you do this, the better you’ll get at understanding other people’s emotions.

2) Know Your Triggers – Pay attention to situations that cause you to have a certain stress emotion. Just being self-aware of these triggers will help you manage your own emotions at work or home.

3) Watch Your Self-Talk – How many negative words do you say to yourself each day? Replace those with positive words and you’ll see a big shift in your attitude and emotional state.

Did you know that people with high EQs make better managers? Give this Fast Company article a quick read to find out how emotionally intelligent your boss is. And pick up a few tips on how you can improve your own management skills.

Improv your EQ with DuMore Improv! Allison is heading to California this week to teach Improv & Emotional Intelligence at UC Berkeley. If you think your team could use an EQ boost, contact us to book a session for your group. It’s a great way to get in the right frame of mind for 2014.

P.S. The Muppets are pros at Emotional Intelligence.

muppets_emotions

What’s your story this Thanksgiving, turkey?

What have those turkeys at DuMore Improv been up to? Well, this month we’ve been busy teaching storytelling workshops, cooking up new curriculum ideas and looking for holiday recipes online. Thursday is Thanksgiving after all! And it’s a great time to reflect on the amazing stories you’ve created with your friends and families in the past year (or years!)Here’s a fun and easy storytelling game to play around the dinner table. Write simple story prompts on notecards and place one by each person’s plate. Then take turns telling stories based on the ideas. Here’s a handy list of story starters, plus a few our our family favorites:

  • My favorite Thanksgiving was the year that…
  • I know the holidays are here when…
  • My favorite memory of (the person to your right) is…
  • The weirdest holiday gift I’ve ever received was…
  • My favorite holiday movie is _____ because…
On Thanksgiving Day, take a quick trip to our Facebook page and share what you are thankful for. Then get ready for fun Fridays in December. We’ll be playing our holiday themed 185 game again with weekly prize winners!P.S. Our 2014 calendar is filling up already, so get in touch soon if you want to schedule a DuMore Improv workshop to kick-off the new year with your team!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Cheers, Allison & Elizabeth
Here’s a happy ending for your Thanksgiving story!
corona_inflatable_turkey_beach

How can ghost stories help your business?

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and as we sit here shoving candy corn in our faces, we were thinking about why we love it so much – ghost stories!! Last month, we taught a brand new workshop “The Business of Storytelling” for our wonderful clients at Turner Entertainment Networks. We dug deep into what makes a great story and ways you can use storytelling skills to improve sales, get buy-in from bosses or share ideas with peers. But did you also know that the secrets to a super spooky campfire story are the same ones you’d use at the office?

Ghost story pro Alasdair Stuart believes there are 4 tricks for capturing the attention of your audience. You have to take control of your environment, audience, story and yourself. A great article in The Guardian reveals his favorite nuances like using a single light source and seating your audience in a wedge than fans out from the speaker. He also explains that a pretense of truth is essential and that it’s helpful to use a repetitive, memorable phrase. Check out the story for yourself and see if you can incorporate his techniques into your next pitch – or at least tell a great Halloween ghost story this season!

Give us a shout (or scream!) if you’d like DuMore Improv to scare up a fun storytelling workshop for your organization. The end is near – how will you tell your 2013 business success story? We can help.

P.S. Join us on Facebook on Thursday, October 31st to help us create an improvised line-at-a-time Halloween ghost story!

HAPPY HAUNTING!
Cheers, Allison & Elizabeth
Here’s to a Halloween filled with more treats than tricks!
candy_corn_parfait