That was the advice of comedian Tim Russia Phone Number Washer in his talk, How to Use Improv Techniques to Improve Your Storytelling, at Content Marketing World in 2016. He gave us some examples, which I’ll share in this article.
First off, in case you missed my recent post based on that same talk, let me explain who this guy is. In addition to being social media manager for Cisco Systems’ Service Provider Marketing Group, Tim has worked on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Late Night with Conan O’Brien , studied improvisation with Amy Poehler and wrote for her on Saturday Night Live weekend. Update and work as a “corporate comedian” for clients like Google, IBM, FedEx and Pepsi.
Word play exercise
I saw my first live improv show when I was about 9 years old. My dad took my sister and I to Second City in Chicago. One of the Russia Phone Number actors asked for the name of an animal. “Aardvark!” I screamed. How on earth would they make a reference to an aardvark in their skit?
It seemed impossible that this team of energetic people on stage could create a vignette on the spot using the audience’s suggestions. Since they did just that, I waited, waited, waited. Eventually, at the end of the skit, one of the actors broke into song, ending with the catchy line “in a tree, with the ardvark and me! How had they succeeded? It was magical.
Decades later, it still seems magical to me that any group of people can instantly create a story – let alone a fun story – out of a bunch of random words. I never considered trying it myself.
Spend 5 minutes a day
Playing a word juxtaposition game to boost creativity, says @TimWasher. #CMWorld Click to tweet
To do this, follow the “path of nonsense” recommended by Tim:
Find two unrelated terms. (Try a free random word generator app, like InspireMe.)
Write these terms down on a piece of paper. (Don’t do it in your head.)
Create a word map or word web for each term. (Brainstorm. Write, write, write. Don’t stop. Keep your pen moving. No wrong answers. It’s just word association. Associate free. Don’t judge yourself or worry about make mistakes. If it’s crazy, it could lead to gold.)
Pick one word from each side – a combination you think has game potential – and match just those two words for free.