Noticing the Offers

Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

In improv, we talk a great deal about “offers”.

An offer is a verbal or nonverbal cue expressed by a performer, as an invitation into a co-created story.

Offers can be loud and boisterous, endowing fellow actors with specific character roles, relationships or locations. (i.e. “Hey mom, sorry I’m late. It smells amazing in here! Your famous meatballs, I take it?”)

Or they can be quiet and subdued. (i.e. An impatiently tapping foot; the disproving scowl from across the room.)

In order to create a never-seen-before improv show, actors practice presence, listening and the critical skill of noticing. And when noticing is met with the practice of “Yes and…” — magic happens.

As leaders, change-makers and capacity builders, I would argue that offers are everywhere and happening all the time off stage, in life and business. Some are clear and evident, particularly if posed as a question; a plea for advice and support. Others can be quite elusive and very hard to detect.

Noticing offers is a skill improvisers hone across hours of rehearsal time. And like anything worth doing, it requires practice.

I often remind my clients that although we don’t run companies and manage teams from inside a theater, we are all professional improvisors — living and leading, totally unscripted, every day.

And in order to co-create the change we want to see, we need to stay sharp, and detect offers all the time.

So I’d like to give you a bit of loving homework. Are you ready?

Notice more, and see the offers are gifts.

💡 Your new hire is staring out the window, dazed and quiet, during an all staff meeting. Might that be an invitation to check-in on her?

💡 The CEO has arrived late and disheveled to the last couple of calls. Is there an opportunity to offer emotional support or express concern?

💡 You couldn’t help notice your introvert Creative Director beam with pride while you announced the new website launch to your peers. Is there a chance she’d like some recognition from you, privately, after the call?

In our fast paced, always-on culture, noticing takes practice.

Do a little homework, though, to slow down, stay present and observe…and you just might realize the professional improvisor you are.

Would you like to explore how we teach and train skills like listening, awareness and noticing offers? Let’s connect and explore!




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Shannon Hughes

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