On a recent Wednesday morning, the Hawkins International offices had a slightly different feel. There were no conference calls or client meetings, a pause was placed on answering emails, and the sound of typing ceased in Suite 600. Everyone was gathered in the large conference room warming up for a morning of improv.
While slightly out of the box, improv sessions have become more common in the workplace in order to build internal relationships and communication. Hawkins International had the chance to dabble in the world of improvisation when Harvey Chipkin, and his colleague Kelly Haran, stopped by our offices.
Harvey Chipkin has been a contributing editor for Travel Weekly for the past 20 years. He is also a trained improvisational actor with the Lunatic Fringe Improv Group for the past 12 years and even honed his improv skills with the likes of Upright Citizens Brigade, Second City and Magnet Theater. Now he teaches improv techniques to build and develop internal communication within businesses.
During his time at Hawkins, he led the office through many different exercises designed to enhance various skills. These activities ranged from those focused on attention where employees had to stand in a circle and monitor and replicate the movements of others to scenes where people had to quickly adapt to new characters and situations. All of the exercises inspired creativity and comfort between our colleagues and helped us to develop our “Yes, And” instincts. This rule focuses on building off one another’s stories rather than trying to change the direction.
The positive feedback and overall morale in the office spoke volumes to the success of our morning improve session. It was exciting to see people come out of their shells and deeply engage in the fun. “I think that by working together in an improv setting, the office is more likely to work together on other tasks,” said Zachary Kizer, Public Relations Intern.
The level of comfort that was established after the ice breaker activities made way for significant growth within the Hawkins employees. Communication is a vital component of the PR industry, and our communication skills were put to the test during Harvey’s improv session. “After the improv, I felt more comfortable approaching other members of the staff; it helped make those connections that otherwise would not have been available,” said Kizer.
Throughout the morning, Hawkins learned that communication has multiple parts. Vocalizing thoughts and feelings isn’t productive unless you have someone who can internalize the information and help analyze and direct the conversation in a constructive manner. With our “Yes, And” skills honed and the lines of communication open, our PR and Digital pros will have no problem dealing with anything that comes their way.