Picture this:

Your 3-hour Zoom workshop just started, and your computer freezes!

😬 What do you do?

The show must go on!

In last week’s Magnetic Messages Masterclass, my computer froze precisely at 10:01 am.

(My suspicion, for other event hosts, is: I was sharing a Zoom whiteboard in a browser window, and annotating with a couple of people, when a dozen people arrived all at once. Adding them to the meeting, and having to handle screensharing AND adding people to the Annotation toolbar made Zoom barf on my processor.)

Thankfully, I had my backup laptop ready, with all the slides, links, and videos cued up. I just joined the meeting from there, stepping right back in. Theatrical training to the rescue! 🎭

Always have a backup plan if your tech fails.

I realized recently, I plan every class as a show.

When I’m leading a group of students, I think of myself as a ringmaster, because my early training was in the circus.

ringmaster with clown kids
Teacher as Ringmaster by ChatGPT-4o

I set the scene, and then empower students to perform with me, on the topic at hand.

The day before, I rehearse the scenes of the workshop, in the order I want them to go. A tech rehearsal is where I find the flow of the experience, and identify the graceful transitions from scene to scene, exercise to exercise. This helps me find the overall theme, which informs how I open the space.

I may start as the star of the show, but my performance is only a success if the students can perform new tricks at the end.

Two different students told me after the Magnetic Messages Masterclass that the tech fail didn’t matter, because the content was so good.

The hot seat coaching was great. A student would share a potential Magnetic Message, and I would ask them questions that made them dig deeper into their own IP, gain clarity on what they were really trying to say, and refine it to make it 🧲ATTRACTIVE🧲. That was really fun.

I wasn’t able to use any of my cool video tricks, which was a disappointment. I had all these cools scenes lined up in Ecamm Live, with the slides over one shoulder, and then the screenshared Google Docs workbook over my other shoulder, thanks to my greenscreen.

There was even a planned a set of music to use during the copywriting sprints, and prepared fancy text overlays for my video feed with the questions and prompts. There was a whole show that my students didn’t get to see!

Improvisation Lesson: Pivot fast.

The 3-hour copywriting masterclass wasn’t the only thing I taught last week. I also taught 2 theatre workshops (monologue and improv) at the local repertory theater.

theatre workshops

At the end of the 3-series Monologue Workshop, the actors left with a new monologue ready for audition.

Giving them feedback as a director – it’s just like hot seat coaching.

Someone shares a distilled message, and I give them perspective and ideas on polishing that message so it’s clearer to an audience.

I’ve been leading Improv Workshops every one of the 5 Saturday nights in June, and it’s brought a lot of laughter and confidence to the actors.

(Read last month’s article 6 Life Lessons Taught Through Improv for deeper reflections on the theatrical craft. If you like that sort of thinking, ten years ago I wrote about The Breath of the Neutral Mask.)

As I mature as a professional, I’m finding more alignment between my previous crafts, and my current vocation. It feels like this is a helpful method to find my Ikigai – the unique overlap of skills and attributes that only I can provide.

For better or for worse, that involves my clown side. It’s corny, but hey, the most effective copywriting is corny, too.

When I look at the functions of marketing (communicating with a demographic) and performance (communicating with a live audience) there’s an overlap of rich wisdom from two different fields creating my own unique perspective.

I suppose that’s why I’ve done so much thinking on Playful Productivity. This feels like the unique message that I’m supposed to say.

*sigh*…time to dust off that book proposal, I suppose. I’m 27,000 words into the manuscript for Playful Productivity already….click here to get notified when it’s ready for early readers, if you like.

Writing this article has made me realize…I need to finish that book.