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As a keynote speaker, John Sweeney has captured the imagination of some of the most respected companies in the world. Not because he owns the nation’s oldest comedy theatre; not because a quote from his first book appeared on millions of Starbucks coffee cups; and because he danced shirtless on national television earning him “Fan of the Year” accolades from the Today Show. Rather, we believe Sweeney’s success is a result of how deeply and effectively his improvisational speaking and training programs have resonated with a broad spectrum of forward-thinking leaders.
One of Sweeney’s early corporate clients, Phil Fawcett, a Microsoft employee since 1985, expressed it like this, “I have worked one on one with both Stephen Covey and Tom Peters and I find John Sweeney’s ideas to be as valuable. His message and methods are fantastic!” Since that kind remark years ago, Sweeney has trained and entertained thousands of audiences.
Audiences come to understand, appreciate, learn and practice an improv-based mindset that helps them live and work better. Sweeney first conducts rigorous pre-event research and information gathering. He then uses the obtained client knowledge and his 15+ years of speaking expertise to create on-target, personal, and memorable experiences uniquely punctuated by an authentic and experienced brand of professional humor that further greases the wheels of learning and retention. Sweeney is backed by a team of insightful, hands-on, authentic performers and trainers who possess uncommon business insight and unmatched event experience. His long list of repeat clients include Hilton, Unitedhealth Group, Honeywell, Microsoft, Land O’ Lakes, Target, General Mills, US Bancorp, Medtronic, Thomson and approximately a hundred more.
Whether helping companies achieve greater innovation, improve teamwork and productivity, sell better, embrace change, personalize customer service, or renew workplace enthusiasm, Sweeney is undeniable in his ability spark laughter, deliver messages, provoke thought, and initiate change.
To book sales and customer service speaker John Sweeney call Executive Speakers Bureau at 800-754-9404.
Customization is Key
John Sweeney and his team work closely with clients to customize speeches for particular audiences and business needs, however some common themes and current topics have emerged. John is most well-known for his speeches on the behaviors and insights of improvisational innovation. For more than a decade, his clients have asked him to adapt his innovation speech to the specific disciplines of personal and cultural innovation, sales, storytelling/presentation, customer service, leadership, idea generation, agility/change management and collaboration.
Session Title: Innovation at the Speed of Laughter
Session Focus: Personal Innovation
Sweeney’s work on the topic of innovation with some of the best organizations on the planet has led us to discover that innovation is almost always a reflection of individuals reacting from a place of fear rather than a mindset of discovery. In this workshop, John applies improvisation-based behaviors and skills to behaviors that ignite innovation in the workplace. Using a mindset of discovery and addressing those behaviors that keep individuals from finding their most innovative self, John shows participants how they can use their own sense of trust, truth, and acceptance to improve natural creativity and boost innovation. Like improvisation, true innovation can only exist when ideas and actions flow freely without judgment – this unique speech shows participants how to make that happen for themselves, teams and the workplace. Using a trademarked blend of content and experiential learning, John’s speeches are visually startling, entertaining and actively demonstrate key learning points such as:
Session Title: The Art of Selling
Session Focus: Sales
Improvisation is especially applicable to the sales process and profession. Being able to define, understand and then communicate your value proposition and point of view are vital in providing solutions to your client and to creating long lasting business relationships. We’ve found that the process we have used for more than 50 years to create a successful comedy sketch mirrors many of the elements and steps of a sales process. Sketch writers use their skills to refine content information and then turn into an undeniable asset. They transform and package the content in a way that heightens its value to the audience in an interesting and entertaining way. It is from this point of view that we approach the sales process in three parts:
Scripting your value proposition
As an organization that has scripted original material to entertain and impact audiences for more than 50 years, we understand the power of effectively sharing content in a succinct and engaging way. We know that sometimes a well-chosen word or two can drastically affect our story. Oftentimes sales people have a very short window of opportunity to make an impression and communicate the value of their product or service.
Rehearsing your pitch
In athletics and in the arts, we rehearse almost all the time and perform only once in a while. In business and in sales in particular, we execute all the time and don’t often find the time to practice. Yet, we all know that it is only through practice that one is able to find the level of execution that appears effortless. Like anything else, reading a customer, communicating with that customer in an appropriate style, and delivering a personal, powerful message that grabs their attention and makes them buy are all skills that take practice. For salespeople who work at a fast pace with a variety of customers, the ability to be comfortable with their core message and deliver it in the appropriate way and style is best achieved through consistent practice.
Improvising your close
John and his team view sales interaction as nothing more than a conversation. It is a “scene” where the salesperson asks how they can help, actively listens and then tells a story aligned to their value proposition and the client need. This approach eliminates the “awkwardness” often associated with sales and shifts the focus from the sales person and transaction to the client and their need. Because there is nothing more powerful than the emotional appeal of a service or product, the storytelling aspect of an “improvisational sale” is key.
By exploring how comedy writers use the creation of Character and Point of View as the basis for a great sketch, participants gain insight into the importance and process of creating Character and Point of View for themselves, their team and the very next sale, specifically learners will:
Session Title: Engaging Your Audience Through Storytelling
Session Focus: Presentation Skills/Communication/Presence
Communication is key to improvisation and storytelling is a fundamental for improvisational communication. Our stories need to be razor sharp, crystal clear, and emotionally charged. It is through story that we increase the engagement of our audience. Communication skills are equally vital in business; leaders and employees who are able to effectively express their point of view are much more prone to engage their internal and external audiences. Common learning points of this session include:
Session Title: Being Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Session Topic: Agility/Change
After hearing from numerous clients how individuals and teams are reacting to a business climate of uncertainty and rapid change, John developed a speech designed to help them battle prevalent non-productive behaviors and attitudes. As improvisers we work in an environment of uncertainty and change all the time and have learned to embrace and maximize it. This session demonstrates the behaviors and skills improvisers use to stay productive; and helps participants practice how to be comfortable with, and unafraid of, change. Attendees learn how to:
Session Title: Act the Way You Want Your Company To Be
Session Topic: Leadership and Management
We’ve found that great leaders understand how important it is to establish a culture that empowers, encourages and rewards people for being “their best selves.” In this session, leaders learn how to create a more innovative and appealing culture - one that instills the expectation from employees that ideas will be met with an initial positive reaction rather than disagreement or judgment. As improvisers, it is necessary for us to create, on stage, an environment that is completely innovatively and creatively safe. John demonstrates how quickly and easily it is to create a similar mindset in the workplace. As a result, leaders we work with tend to increase the number of ideas their teams produce and the quality of those ideas.
In approaching leadership through the principles of improvisation, John’s session also focuses on how to create a “statusless” environment to organically help individuals find their most innovative, creative and productive selves. Leaders learn specific skills to help foster creativity in the people they lead. In addition, participants are asked to examine their own behavior through the eyes of an improviser in order to help them identify how they can improve their own leadership skills. Common learning points include:
Session Title: Building a Culture of Innovation One Behavior at a Time
Session Focus: Culture & Workplace Transformation
We all seek a workplace culture where employees and leaders are nimble, engaged, alert and productive. It is common for companies to evaluate how they conduct business, communicate, and co-create value with customers; but many fail to ask a simple question, do we have a workplace where people and their ideas flourish and we capitalize on both? As improvisers, we know that if we do not create a culture where ideas are cherished and each of us is heard, we will fail. We live that culture every day and have developed rules, skills and tools that allow us to actively promote one another and create unique, innovative products spontaneously, in front of our customers, seamlessly as a team. This speech focuses on transforming the workplace from a restrictive environment full of fear and ambiguous employee loyalty to an environment of discovery, acceptance, collaboration and innovation. Common learning points for focusing on the workplace culture include:
Session Title: Building Idea Machines
Session Topic: Idea generation
John believes everyone has unlimited creativity locked inside them and when successfully tapped will lead to more and better ideas. Performing an improvisational scene on stage is often referred to as being able to ride a bike while you are building it. In addition to listening to the audience’s reaction, the point of view and strategy declared by your teammates and the logistical elements of the scene, an improviser must be in a constant state of idea generation. Since improvisation is theatre without script or net, our ideas are both the building blocks of the content and the fuel of our forward movement. To be a good improviser is truly to be an idea machine. Attendees discover:
Speech Title: Using Exceptional Customer Service to Drive Growth
Speech Topic: Customer Service/Sales for the non-sales person
Many people find the “sales process” hard, awkward and uncomfortable. As improvisers, we view “sale” as a scene: the authentic interaction between two people with different points of view working to find a resolution by listening and building from each other’s point of view. Translated, it is a conversation with the goal of finding a solution to a customer’s need. It is simply just another version of customer service. In this session, John actively demonstrates tips and tools to overcome the awkwardness of “sales” interactions using a laugh, practice, learn, repeat approach. Participants learn how to:
Session Title: One Plus One Equals Three
Session Focus: Collaboration/Teambuilding
Core to improvisation is the ability of several people to share space in time with different points of view and create something from nothing, together. When this process is successful, the product they produce is rich and diverse and oftentimes, hilarious, authentic, and undeniably impactful. It is more than just the combination of the parts; it is a new and innovative solution that has been affected by all group members. And it is infinitely more interesting than any one group member’s point of view! Inspired by the fundamental of “ensemble-based creation,” this session introduces audience members to the shortcuts, insights, and tricks of how improvisers work at blazing speeds and ridiculously high levels of efficiency. Learning points include
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