The mother of Improv Viola Spolin said,
“If you have a problem, there’s a game to solve it. And if there isn’t a game, invent one!”
As a public speaking coach, I use the Sponto Time card deck in my consults to help executives with their public speaking skills. And sometimes, I’ll invent new games to work on specific skills.
For instance, I was working with an executive who had an upcoming media interview. One of the reasons his boss sent him to me for training was because he had a bad habit: he would ramble on and on until he forgot the question. Not good!
This executive needed to learn to answer media questions clearly and concisely. So I taught him the BLUF technique, which stands for “Bottom Line Up Front.” It’s where you say the most important thing first, then give an example, and wrap it up. It’s like writing a high-school essay without boring parts and footnotes!
But how do you practice this technique? That’s where Sponto Time comes in handy. I picked a card from the deck and told him he had one minute to tell a story about the word using the BLUF format.
His word was HAUNTED HOUSE. He said something like:
“Haunted houses are scary, but they can also be fun. For example, one Halloween, I went to a haunted house with my kids, and we had a blast. We screamed, we laughed, we ran away from zombies. It was a great bonding experience.”
Not too shabby, right? He got the hang of the BLUF format pretty quickly. After a few more rounds of practice with low-stakes words like MISSING SOCK and FOREST, he was ready to tackle high-stakes questions like “How are you handling increased competition from the Asian markets?” with more professionalism and poise!
(I once even played BLUF with a lawyer who needed practice answering questions in a beauty pageant she was entering! What fun! It can often help nervous speakers to think in terms of the format rather than the specifics of the answers.)
Sponto Time is not just a deck of cards; it’s a tool for creativity and communication. You can make up your own games and rules and have fun while learning new skills.
What problems will you solve with your deck of Sponto Time cards? I’d love to hear about the creative ways you use your cards!