Yeah, We're Not Going to Do That
How many times have you been in a brainstorming session or meeting and thrown out an idea only to have someone say “I don’t think that will work” or “We can’t possibly do that”? It’s pretty dispiriting, and of course, makes you not want to contribute further. It also defeats the purpose of a brainstorm where all ideas are supposed to be welcome.
Lumberg always encouraged ideas.
Learning from Second City
If you’ve ever taken an improv class (I highly recommend it if you haven’t) you know that there’s no “no” in improv. The way the model is designed is to keep building on an idea or story. This way nothing is ever rejected, it’s just shifted, pivoted or enhanced. They do this by always saying “Yes, and…” It’s pretty genius actually, and not just when it comes to comedy. The idea of saying yes to any idea someone has, but not having to agree with them, makes everyone feel heard, but also allows everyone to have their own take and direction on a topic. It’s literally saying “Yes, I agree with Susan, and also this would be really great too.”
Keep It Moving People
Sounds simple right? That’s because it is. But moreover, it creates movement. When you say no, or outright cancel an idea or thought, it stops things in their tracks, not allowing for what’s next. But when you say yes and, you keep things going, allowing for endless possibilities of thought, ideas and creativity.
Death to the Oxford Comma
Think about content on a website. Easy to read sites use subheads, bullet points, contractions, have one space after a period (for the love of all things holy people, STOP using two spaces) and don’t use the Oxford comma. There’s a reason for this. It’s not an AP or Chicago Manual of Style conspiracy (those are the most revered standards for copy guidelines), it’s because using those things allows the reader to keep reading. Subheads allow for scanning and break up text. Bullets make it easy to read lists. Contractions shorten what you read and sound more like the way people actually speak. And by not having that pesky Oxford comma after an and, you keep people’s eyes moving, because punctuation by definition is a sign to stop or pause.
Punch It Up
Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but just like yes and allows for continued ideation - concise, punchy and pithy content allows for continued reading, which leads to learning, understanding and engaging. And that helps your content get seen and get read. Oh, and hopefully make your audience take action. Because the quicker you can get them there and the less barriers that stand in their way, the more likely they are to say yes and to your products and services.