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What in the world is an improv comedian doing in our office?

Recently, we hired Monkey Business Institute – an improv troupe based in Madison, Wisconsin – to teach our team the basics of improv comedy. While this may seem like a fun team-building exercise (which it certainly is), the purpose of this training is to make sure everyone on our team has the skills needed to be effective communicators.

Improv comedy? Really?

Yes, and turning to improv comedy to train our team to be better communicators is easily one of the best investments we’ve made as an organization. The skills we’ve been working on in these classes have led to more productive collaborations internally, as well as more meaningful, effective interactions with our clients.

Of the many skills taught to us during our lessons, the most difficult one – and the most relevant to our company – is to listen…like, really listen. As it turns out, truly listening to one another is something the vast majority of people aren’t very good at doing. When spoken to, what often occurs is that we’re crafting a response before the speaker is even done talking. As a result, we often miss important details or respond in a way that fails to fully address the points brought up by the speaker. It’s a bad habit. As a consulting firm, if we’re not focused on what our clients are telling us, it’s likely that we’ll completely miss the mark on finding a solution that will help them improve their business. By learning to listen and respond to the what was said – not what we assumed to have been said – we are better able to serve our clients and deliver results.

There is so much more to the improv lessons than just this one particular example, but if we only had that one take away, our company is better for having this training.

But what does this have to do with Salesforce?

Salesforce is a tool. An effective, versatile one at that. Salesforce rocks – we make it rock harder. <cue the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ scene from the movie Wayne’s World> That said, all the Salesforce configuration and optimization in the world is a waste of time, energy, and resources if our solutions don’t match the goals of our clients. It’s critical, then, that our team be filled with top-notch, grade-A, ace communicators in order to discover the issues our clients face so that we can provide the appropriate strategies to overcome these obstacles. Improv comedy emphasises active listening, paying attention to detail, encourages collaborative efforts, and open communication. These principles are easily transferable into the workplace, resulting in improved teamwork and better outcomes for our clients. Plus, we’ve had an incredibly fun time while we level-up our communication skills.  

Thanks to Brad Knight for teaching everyone at Emelar the power of “Yes, and…”. Learn more about Monkey Business Institute by heading to

Published on Mar 19 2018

Last Updated on Jan 27 2020

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