Improspectives

Improv skills lead to success

Use a Premortem to Anticipate Problems

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Any time you advocate change, you should expect to encounter resistance. There are, after all, vested interests in maintaining the status quo. That’s as true for improv groups as it is for any other type of organization. One way you can reduce the disruption caused by these objections is to anticipate them and prepare responses.

To anticipate these problems, you can do a premortem where you probe a plan for every possible point of weakness. This is where you can release your negativity: Think of every possible way someone could object to your plan, how things could go wrong, whether your assumptions could be called into question, and whether the projected benefits are realistic.

There are two benefits to this exercise. The first, as I mentioned, is that you anticipate potential problems and can develop responses. If you can’t develop a good answer to an objection, perhaps you should put off your presentation. The second benefit is that it helps detach team members from the proposal on an emotional level. Once you think of all the ways something could go wrong, you are much less likely to see it as a perfect plan. Doing so lets you receive criticism objectively, and answer without your emotions taking hold.

Remember that decision-makers prefer to operate on an analytical level, even when they are selling products or political candidates to their target demographic on pure emotion. If you present your analysis and let your persuasive techniques season what you say, you’ll be that much closer to making your plan a reality.

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