5 Reasons Why Conference Calls Are The Worst

Virtual meetings are our new way of life. They are beneficial to the company’s bottom line, and if we execute them correctly, they can be even more impactful than meetings held on site.

Video conferencing can help build trust and increase engagement in your teams without the need for a plane ride, gridlock traffic and a night or two away from family. So let’s dive into a few virtual meeting tips:

Conference Chaos

Conference calls can be the absolute worst when bad habits meet less than engaged attendees. One way to combat conference chaos is to create a set of meeting Norms. Norms are an understanding amongst the group of what will and will not be allowable when meeting. The trouble is, many teams create their list of norms separate from the group and result in work around behavior or people just sliding back into their normal habits. To avoid this, meeting leaders should set norms with input from the group in order to reach a consensus about virtual meeting behavior.

Terrible Tech

Waiting until the beginning of a big meeting and then discovering that your video isn’t working usually results in a loss of visual connection with your telecommuting teammates. Make sure that upon arrival, technology is the first priority. When possible, have someone arrive early to make sure everything is setup properly.

We Could Have Done This In An Email

Holding a meeting that could have been an email is a waste of time for everyone involved. Sending an email that should be a meeting is just asking for things to go sideways on you. Correctly evaluating when to send an email and when to have a meeting can help save everyone time and will help them stay more attentive during the meetings themselves.

Wrong Party Guests

Asking someone to sit on the other end of a phone or video chat when they do not need to be there creates a culture of multitasking and half listening. Once we train ourselves to do other things while on a call it can be a difficult habit to break. Making sure that everyone who is invited is truly needed on the call can be a great step toward full attention during meetings.

There Was Homework?

Sending out condensed readings to prepare for a meeting can help make the most of everyone’s time once they are online together. In order for this to work the meeting preparer should only send out the most pertinent info and encourage a culture in which reading prep is done before the meeting.

For more helpful tips on mastering your virtual meetings, consider DuMore’s Virtual Collaboration Workshop to help your team have powerful and effective meetings virtually.

View Our Workshop Catalogue

Allison and Jim

champagne toast

A Special DuMore Improv New Year’s Toast…

Cheers, friends! DuMore Improv’s favorite holiday is almost here – New Year’s Eve! We’re looking forward to good food, good buddies, lots of fun and games and an exciting newyear. We hope you are too!

Loading up your plate at the New Year’s Eve buffet table sounds easy, but coming up with the perfect party toast? Not so much. So we decided to help you out with a DIY mad libtoast. Share it with your colleagues, friends, family or strangers in line for the bathroom.

2016 New Year’s Toast

Happy New (noun)____________, everyone! I’m so happy to have my closest (plural noun)____________ here with me to share this (adjective)____________ moment. Today we (verb)____________ our (plural noun)____________ and look forward to a new yearof (noun)____________.

Once a year we (verb)____________ together to watch the (noun)____________ drop, stuff our bellies with (noun)____________ and then (verb)____________ on the dance floor until it’s time to (verb)____________.

So let’s raise a (noun)____________ and toast! May your (noun)____________ be forever (adjective)____________ and your (noun)____________ always be filled with(adjective)____________    (noun)____________.

Cheers & Happy New Year!
Allison, Jim & Elizabeth
toast new year
halloween candy

What Our Favorite Halloween Candy Says About Us

It’s Halloween week & we hope you’re ready to dig in to some spooky treats. Did you know that our favorite Halloween candy says a lot about our (or our co-worker’s) leadership style? Read on to see if you can spot the Snicker or Smartie in your group.
What Our Favorite Halloween Candy Says About Our Leadership Style
Candy Corn – A super sweet leader, but best in small doses
Snickers – A little nutty sometimes, but your team is always satisfied
Reese’s – A balanced approach to leadership and appreciate all perspectives
Dum Dums – This style can be mysterious, but it never fails to surprise and delight
Kit Kat – Loves shared leadership (and taking lots of breaks!)
Smarties – Thrives on change and having a lot of options.
Junior Mints – A team player and who always sticks together with their group.Favorite team outing — going to a movie!
Laffy Taffy – A committed leader who will chew on a problem until it’s solved.
Fruit – Not always the life of the party, but at the end of the day everyone feels great.
————————————————————
Hope you enjoyed our Halloween fun! To learn about REAL leadership styles, check out this Harvard Business Review article about common leadership archetypes.
Need help with your personal style or your team’s leadership skills? Schedule a quick discovery call with Jim Karwisch at jim@dumoreimprov.com or 404-272-1212.
Happy Halloween & we hope you get loads of your favorite candy!!
Cheers,
Allison, Jim & Elizabeth
candy comic
snoopy fall

The #1 Office Game Changer This Fall

Tired of your team turning on each other like fall leaves in New England?
Wish your teammates would bring some business-changing ideas to the table?
Wonder how you can get everyone’s energy level up for the Q4 push?
If that nip in the air is getting you excited about a new season, there’s a good chance your teammates are ready for a shift, too. Fall is a great time to usher in a fresh approach to doing business and subtly nudge your corporate culture in a new direction.

Adding improvisation skills and emotional intelligence to your playbook can instantly transform your team from ho hum to high energy. And even if you’re happy with your current culture, it’s never hurts to have a refresher on these 5 key elements of high-level collaboration and teamwork:

  1. Crystal Clear Communication
  2. Awareness & Empathy
  3. Radical Risk Taking
  4. Shared Leadership
  5. Positive Problem Solving
Hop on a quick Discovery call with us to explore how a culture tune-up can get your group psyched for a new season. Contact Jim Karwisch atjim@dumoreimprov.com or 404-272-1212 to set up a time to chat!
Cheers,
Allison, Jim & Elizabeth
 
snoopy leaf dance
Business Bookshelf

Your Top 25 Summer Reading Picks!

Aw, yeah. Our bookshelf is about to look like THIS — thanks to your contributions to our summer reading list.

We appreciate everyone sharing their favorite titles. Wow, you guys are serious readers! We’ve got a great mix of inspirational, intriguing and just plain fun. Now get your beach and pool bags ready…here are YOUR top 25 picks.

  1. The 46 Rules of Genius by Marty Neumeier
  2. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
  3. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
  4. Why A Students Work for C Students… by Robert Kiyosaki
  5. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
  6. Holacracy by Brian J. Robertson
  7. #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso
  8. Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone
  9. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
  10. What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles
  11. 1984 by George Orwell
  12. Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald
  13. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  14. The Pope and Mussolini by David Kurtzer
  15. Never Too Late: Your Road Map to Reinvention by Claire Cook
  16. The Promise of a Pencil: How An Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun
  17. Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg
  18. Freakanomics by Levitt and Bunar
  19. SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland
  20. The Nightingale by Kristi Hannah
  21. Once There Was A War by John Steinbeck
  22. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  23. Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
  24. Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts
  25. Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins
And cheers to the winner of our random drawing — Lily Zhang. We’ll be sending you a $50 Amazon gift card to get your reading list off to a good start.

Happy Reading! We’ll check in again this summer for your book reviews.

Cheers,
Allison & Elizabeth

Your tan lines this summer.
book_nerd_tan_lines
Nosy Dog

Hey, what are you reading right now?

Hey, there! What are you reading? Huh? Huh? Let me see.

Were you one of those kids that couldn’t wait for the Summer Reading List to be posted at the library? Did you read all of the books in one week and beg your parents for more? Do you wish you had a grown-up reading list to tackle? Then we’ve got good news for our fellow book nerds.

We’re building our summer reading list and desperately need your help! Our plan is to create a list of Top 10 Business Beach Reads, so we can properly pack for our summer vacation. Holacracy” is coming out this week and we can’t wait to get our hands on it. Definitely going in the bag.

So, what else should we add to our reading list? We want to hear your ideas. Email Allison (allison@dumoerimprov.com) with the titles of your favorite business books by EOD Friday, June 5 & next week we’ll send out a compiled list of your top picks. Plus, we’ll choose a random winner from the emails and they’ll get a $50 Amazon gift card to kick-start their book shopping!

Feel free to throw in a few non-business books that you love, too. We look forward to hearing your recommendations. 🙂

Cheers,
Allison & Elizabeth

We can dream, right?

beach reading

Mad Men Meeting

Help! Will this meeting ever end?

How many times (this week!) have you sat through a meeting and wondered “when will this be over?”

We’ve done it at least 6 times already and it’s only Thursday! Which is why we’re bringing you a practical improv technique that few people talk about – ending the scene. Sure, we talk about clever ways to be brave and start something new. But what about wrapping it up? Here are a couple of things that we know are true about audiences (and meeting participants). They all want one of these 2 things to happen:

1) A good cliffhanger

2) A happy ending

The cliffhanger has an element of suspense that leaves you hungry for more action. In meeting terms, it means stating a quick recap of the meeting and then a clear list of action items. This gives the team something to focus on & enjoy accomplishing before the next session. So they’ll actually look forward to the next scene.

The happy ending is all about resolution. It’s the congratulations on a job well done, the finale of a detailed status update or a dance party for the last 5 minutes of the meeting. Wait, maybe that’s just how DuMore Improv does it. Either way, happy endings bring relief to the crowd who just sat through an exhausting hour of conflict or critical thinking. We promise, you’ll get a round of applause.

Remember, you can be a great scene ender whether you are the leader of a meeting or a participant asking questions that get you to a resolution. Next time you lead or attend a meeting (tomorrow?!), think about how you can help end the scene in a way that gives satisfaction to your audience. Don’t forget to practice your best ta-da bow!

And…scene.

This technique also works for parties. Thank you all for coming!

Cheers Leo

Give Us a Hug

Let’s gamestorm! Who’s in?

We’re so excited you’re here — we have big news! DuMore Improv is welcoming a fresh face to our team and announcing a brand new workshop. Bring it in, y’all.

First, we’d like to introduce you to our new facilitator, Jim Karwisch — check out his smiling mug at the bottom of this email. He’s a good friend, experienced improviser and amazing coach. Jim started improvising in 1991 and has been teaching improv since 2001. He worked for 13 years at a Fortune 500 financial institution, most recently as a Communications and Innovation specialist. Now he works full time as a coach and facilitator in Atlanta, GA and the Southeast. And we are super lucky to have him join our team because he’s brought us this…

Gamestorming! Whether you’ve worked with us before or are new to improv training, you’ll enjoy this eye-opening curriculum. Gamestorming with DuMore Improv lets your team examine challenges more deeply, explore new ideas, perform experiments and test hypotheses. Together we’ll generate surprising insights and results while infusing your team with energy and fun.

Here’s the magic. Gamestorming exercises help participants ditch the idea of “always doing things the same way” and learn new rules for interaction. Activities include questioning, structuring large diagrams, sketching ideas, fusing words and pictures together, and improvising — all designed to tackle a specific challenge and walk away with strategies to solve it.

We love talking about gamestorming (and Jim!) so drop a note to allison@dumoreimprov.com to learn more & find time for us to introduce this problem solving approach your team.

Let’s do this,
Allison & Elizabeth

Jim Karwisch

Meet Jim. Coming soon to a workshop near you.

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.