This blog is the journey of Lorenc Consulting and Entertainment as we continue to encourage creativity and innovation by using the concepts of improv comedy in everyday life. Any kind of group or organization can benefit from our improv-based corporate training, focusing on team-building, hyper listening and communication skills, and thinking on your feet.

Don't change who you are, just figure it out

by Toby Lorenc

Confidence guyWe work with various individuals as part of our Confidence Coaching program - basically, it's an opportunity for you to claim what you are good at, become aware of what you need help with, and be intentional about getting better! 

Everyone is different, and we're not about changing you.  Simply, we want you to have the opportunity and safe environment to try new things, plus get direct feedback about the good and bad. 

Let's not change who you are - your talents, personality, mannerisms, and even quirks define you as a person.  Instead, let us help you be aware of these unique factors and learn how to use them to your benefit.


I am good at...

by Toby Lorenc
Wordle: IamGoodAt

We're all part of teams, groups, committees, clubs, etc. which are working toward a common goal. And wouldn't it be nice if we knew what tools we had right in front of us to accomplish that goal? All you have to do is ask!

 

One of my favorite activities to do with a group is simply having everyone complete the sentence: "I AM GOOD AT..." Have them individually stand up and confidently proclaim what they're good at.  Sure, you're going to get a variety of answers: some people just want to be funny and get attention, some want to brag about something they've done or are working on, and some won't know what to say at all.  Just make sure when you're explaining it that everyone knows there is no wrong answer and it can be as simple as "tying your shoe" but make sure everyone contributes something. The first round, you'll get lots of personal things like sports, musical instruments, parenting, and more.  For the second round, encourage everyone to think of something they're good at that could benefit the group, specifically towards the goals you are trying to accomplish.

 

Do a quick debrief once you get everyone's answer and help them realize they can't work together well unless they know who to turn to when there's a need.  Plus, now that they know what interests people have and what excites them, you're more likely to connect to passion and get better results when specific skills are needed. Between Tim who's "good at being tall and reaching things" and Lacey who's "good at organizing" you just found two great candidates for arranging the storage closet with high shelves.

 

Take it a step further: I have all my clients who I do confidence coaching with write down 5 things a week they are good at.  Keep this list in a notebook - it's tough once you start getting past 10, but that's because people are usually overthinking it and lack confidence. You'll be amazed and encouraged in a few months as you realize the breadth of your skills.

 

For more information on our customized solutions and in-house training, please contact us.


Fully committing to your daily interactions

by Toby Lorenc

I watched The Voice tonight on NBC and a few singers were having a difficult time at their auditions before their head-to-head competition with another singer. Time and time again, the coaches talked to them about committing to the part, committing to the song and committing to themselves that they had the talent to sing some very difficult songs.

 

When training for the improv stage, we talk about commitment.  It's a crucial element in everything we do in a scene.  If we are not fully committed to our characters, our reason for being on stage, or the story we're telling, the audience can tell.

 

Typically, we are not fully committed because of a lack of confidence. Of course, there are many reasons we may not be confident in something, but this hesitation shows and magnifies to the audience as we struggle through the scene we've set up, but haven't committed ourselves to the moment.

 

Sound familiar? Often times in life, people are seen (and probably rightly so) as lacking confidence when they don't commit to what they've "set up" or what they have to accomplish. Whether it's your beliefs, your physical presence, or who you are as a person, if you're not fully in it, you're audience (everyone around you) notices your hesitation and it can be a train wreck.  They start feeling your uncomfortableness and nervousness as you focus on the wrong things.

 

So, what are the wrong things? The negative.  The unknown.  As soon as we start focusing on what we don't know, our minds wander and we begin to picture "worst case scenarios" which distract us from the task at hand. We're suddenly not in the moment and it's obvious.

 

So what does this look like for you in everyday life? It means being present in the moment and doing everything intentionally to accomplish your goals. It means focusing on what you know, not what you don't know. Learning to speak positive thoughts to yourself and putting it all on the line, so that when you walk away you know you couldn't have done it any better.

 

Give yourself the opportunity to succeed instead of the excuses to fail. 

 


Improv Your Life

by Toby Lorenc
"I want to think quicker on my feet"Learn to think quicker on your feet using the concepts of improv comedy
"I want to learn to be more confident"
"I need help listening to others"
"I wish I was more creative"

So maybe you don't have a lifelong goal of being an improv actor, but there are many ideas and practices of improv comedy which can build your self-esteem, creativity, confidence and spontaneity.

Our goal is to truly help you Ignite Your Thinking by teaching you the concepts of improvisational comedy and how they apply to your everyday life.

When's the last time someone asked you in a meeting to give a short summary of a project or tell the team what you learned on your latest business trip? How did you do? Were you able to quickly and coherently provide an on-the-spot speech? Our goal at Ignite Your Thinking is to give you the core elements you need to be successful in these types of situations and to "improv your life."

For instance, many of us freeze up when someone asks us a question or puts us on the spot.  I would challenge you that we often focus on the things we DON'T know instead of what we DO know. Learning to find the details and capture the essence of what you know on any topic will help you become more confident and secure in your responses to others.

We teach these concepts in a fun, low-pressure environment so you can practice and understand the concepts.  Certainly, some people are born with the natural ability to quickly respond and exude confidence in front of others.  The good news is, these talents can be learned and practiced by anyone who has the desire to learn, just like riding a bike, playing a musical instrument, or any other talent.

Contact us for more information on upcoming classes. Our next class is Saturday, July 16th from 9am - 12pm at the East Library in Colorado Springs.  The cost is $50 per student and you'll walk away with the building blocks to improv your life.

Developmental feedback is crucial in helping others grow

by Toby Lorenc
Last week, I took an intensive leadership class at Center for Creative Leadership. I have to say, it wasn't what I was expecting, but that was a good thing.

I walked away with more information and practical applications than I can't even begin to process. Perhaps the most practical revelation was the importance of investing in others, specifically in their development.

Typically, we often use the term "constructive criticism" when approaching topics or behaviors which others need to improve. Instead, think of it as "developmental feedback." It's a whole different mindset when you're approaching an employee, team member, or friend when you take the approach of genuinely wanting to develop them, both through failures and successes.

Center for Creative Leadership teaches the SBI Model, which is an acronym for Situation, Behavior, and Impact. You're focusing your feedback on a specific and exact moment, pointing out the behavior, and telling them how it impacted you. There's no room for debate - you're giving them the facts of what they did and how you felt. This part is crucial and another incredible revelation for me: our actions don't always match our intentions.

This feedback has to be on-going and a mix of both positive and developmental feedback.  For me, it's a great way to intentionally and directly deal with conflict, but also a reminder that we all need positive reinforcement.






Your lingo may not be right on

by Toby Lorenc
As I waited for an appointment with an HR person recently, I was reminded of how important our words are in our quest to present ourselves.

I sat in "Sally's" office while she talked with a prospective employee.  She was very kind to the candidate on the phone, but as soon as she hung up she blurted, "Are you KIDDING me?!?" in frustration.

The individual was getting information on the hiring process at the company and kept repeating, "right on" after Sally told him their hiring protocol. He immediately closed the door to any opportunity with this company because of his language and gave himself a thumbs-down rating with the HR gatekeeper.

Certainly, we all know not to drop curse words and questionable jokes while talking to prospective employers, but have you thought about other jargon you use when talking to others?

Sally wants professionals and grown ups at her company, and Mr. Applicant was portraying just the opposite with his college-based grammar.  He will probably never even have the chance to interview at this company, which he felt was "right on."

Keep in mind that there is never a second chance to make a first impression. Your language can create an impression that will stop you cold and you'll never even have a chance for a face-to-face interview.

Certainly, the words and phrases you choose can create a lasting impression and it's debatable which specific jargon will stop you cold in your tracks. But be conscious of how you're presenting yourself (even over the phone) or your "right on" might become a "write off."

Additional Resources:




Laughter is truly the best medicine

by Toby Lorenc

Child laughing I'm reading a great book right now, Improvisation, Inc. which focuses on engaging people and groups through spontaneity and innovating thinking.

Author Robert Lowe notes that "happy, healthy children laugh out loud up to hundreds of times in a day" and that "normal adults laugh as few as ten or twenty times in a day."

Why do we lose this healthy gift of laughter as we grow old?

Certainly, the reality of everyday life as an adult can put our minds focusing on the tasks, struggles, and challenges we face daily. But we can still make a conscious effort to be positive, happy, and joyful despite the surrounding circumstances.

Research shows that laughter truly is the best medicine and there are substantial health benefits from laughter. It can change the mood in any setting, group, or company. It obvious why public speakers often start with a joke, story, or comment to start an audience laughing and connect with the speaker.

So, what's the solution to this problem of our decreased enjoyment of everyday life? I would challenge you to find the things that truly make you happy and find things at which you can laugh out loud on a daily basis. Lowe suggests finding reasons to laugh on a daily basis, and even laughing out loud just to laugh!

Observe the world around you: watch children play, watch people in public places, find comics and humorous books, see comedy movies, go to an improv comedy show, reflect back on funny experiences or moments in your life - just find a reason to laugh and you'll be amazed how it changes your day and the attitude of those around you.

Most of all, choose to laugh at yourself.  We're all human and we make decisions, mistakes, and comments that can be fantastic comedic material.  Instead of letting these things get you upset or embarrassed, make the choice to laugh, learn, and move on.


Reference:

Improvisation, Inc.: Harnessing Spontaneity to Engage People and Groups
By Robert Lowe
ISBN 0-7879-5142-0




Life with the unhappy co-worker

by Toby Lorenc
Most of us don't have the luxury of choosing our co-workers. There are all types of people, personalities, emotions, and challenges that enter the workplace in the form of co-workers. Truth is, we all bring a good and bad mix to the environment.

So, how do we learn to deal with a difficult colleague?

I'll say it now - I don't have all the answers and I would be curious to hear your stories of how you've dealt with difficult people in the past.  However, I do have a few suggestions which come straight from the concepts of improv comedy.

Positivity: Personally, I think this is the most important. In improv comedy, we focus on being positive on stage. It's resisting the urge to fight, argue, put others down, and just have a bad attitude in general. Keep yourself and your comments positive. No one likes the constant whiner who's never happy about anything and your positive attitude will be noticed and appreciated by others.

Listening: It's easy to ignore someone who annoys you but take a moment to truly listen to what they're asking for, challenging, or proposing. Their ideas may surprise you, despite the way they choose to communicate them. Listen, observe, then wait...listen some more.

Encouragement: Take the high road and turn around with a compliment, even if you're being insulted. Yes, much easier said than done, but you'll gain respect with everyone around you. Look for the gifts and talents that person brings to the table, not the negative things.

Teamwork:
Whether you're on a direct team with a difficult person, or simply in the same organization, remember you're there to accomplish the same goal. Find ways to make others the hero! I guarantee you that everyone has something to add to your team, from skills to ideas. Find their passions and use them to mutually accomplish your goals.

Choose your battles: I had a boss who believed in this concept to the core. Some discussions and arguments simply are not worth wasting your energy. Some people just enjoy arguing with you and they're simply fighting just to watch you get frustrated. Don't waste your time - move on to the important things that are truly going to make a difference. 

Tell us your experiences dealing with others in your organization - we all learn best from experience!

Additional References:
15 Tips to Stay Positive in Negative Situations
How to Really Listen to Someone
"Yes, and" Business


The journey of an improv teacher

by Toby Lorenc
My first exposure to improv comedy was in college, when I was asked to join some friends doing comedy improv in a talent show.  After just a few practices and the finale at the talent show, I knew I wanted to pursue this addictive art of improv. I would later take multiple classes at Impulse Theater in Denver with a friend, and then join Stick Horses in Pants in 2006.

What a perfect fit for me - no planning, no lines to memorize, and no endless weeks of rehearsals going over the same material. With improv, I had the opportunity to work as a team with my fellow players, to hone my listening skills, learn to understand the non-verbal communication of others, and to think on my feet creatively and quickly.

Now, I've created the opportunity to teach weekly improv classes to high school students and anyone from the community who wants to try their hand at improv. Although I've taught improv classes before, they've been one-day classes and were often quite short. With this new series of classes, I'm teaching the same students for 4 weeks so it's been a totally different experience. Check out some of the photos - we definitely have a good time each week!
Improv students learn to think on their feetEven the instructors get involved in the games to help students grasp the concepts
Class sizes are small so we can teach students one-on-oneIn Improv 101, students are taught basic skills of improv comedy
Thinking on your feet is a primary concept in improv comedyImprov classes include both theory and real life practice of improvCommunication, listening, and quick thinking are crucial skills of improv

I think the best part about teaching is how much you learn as a teacher!  I've reviewed things that I knew, remembered things I had forgot, and experienced things I'll adopt. Students can challenge a teacher to critically think about the content and delivery of the message, making it better each time it's given. Plus, they provide me with new ideas and ways of communicating the skills and concepts of improv.

It's sometimes hard to believe I went from a talent show to teaching improv comedy to others, but it has been an incredible journey.  I'm excited about what the future holds for me and Lorenc Consulting and Entertainment!

Trading services and products can be a creative way to run your business

by Toby Lorenc
Colorado Springs, CO
For months, I looked all around Colorado Springs to find a venue where I could teach comedy improv classes.  I met some incredible people and venue owners who were truly passionate about promoting the arts in the city of Colorado Springs. However, we all have businesses to run and bills to pay which meant that I was either going to pay an hourly rate to rent space to teach classes, or I would end up splitting proceeds with the venue at the end of the event.

In October 2010, I attended the Business of Arts Luncheon and was honored to have Colorado Springs Children's Chorale staff at my table.  We started talking and soon I was presenting them with my challenge of needing local space to teach my classes.  Fast forward through some creative conversations and innovative thinking, we were able to create a win-win situation for both of us.

Now, the only cost to me is my time. All Children's Chorale students attend my classes for free and I have an incredible space to hold publicly-advertised classes.  We're both getting mutual promotion, marketing, and exposure through our partnership and it's not costing either of us any hard money.

Plus, both our organizations are getting additional exposure, providing better opportunities to our clients, and creating publicity for ourselves with press releases and event listings.

Does your business participate in trade?  Whether you provide services or products, there are many companies and individuals you can benefit from trade, and share marketing, promotion, and the rewards of a growing business.

Additional Resources:
How to Barter Services Online
Barter on Craigslist

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comedy improv show26-Feb-2015

Stick Horses in Pants comedy improv group will be performing Friday, March 6th and March 13th 20..

Live improv comedy shows12-Feb-2012

Come see what it's all about! Live improv comedy shows are happening in Colorado Springs the 2nd Fr..

Comedy improv classes12-Jan-2011

We teach improv comedy classes every month, including Intro to Improv, Intermediate Improv, and Adva..