Debra Swersky
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Journal

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A Hot Offer

In my final semester at Babson I prepared for my own version of Armageddon. For me Armageddon is when I go from “super flippin’ busy” to “game over.” It happens when a big project wraps up or the goal I set out to achieve is accomplished. For me, Nirvana is several balls in the air (for those who like a good circus reference). I recognized the end of my class schedule was near and did exactly what you would expect… I picked up a ball and threw it into the air. I started Improv classes. 

“You what?” (That’s what you should be saying.) “You’re an admittedly very nervous public speaker!” (You should also be saying that.) Exactly, correct. I signed up for Improv classes to keep the ball of “become a more comfortable public speaker” constantly in the air. It’s one of those “life balls”... which is more like juggling a fire torch. In short, that fire torch should stay in the air for a while… it’s not dropping out of the rotation any time soon. 

In Improv class we play a lot of games, we have a lot of laughs, and I regularly find myself staring at the white screen of death which is the only thing I can see in my mind when I’m asked to give an offer. An offer is the first line of dialogue in a scene. It’s what you say to your scene partner to get the scene started. It could be as simple as “Shhh… we’re hunting rabbits!” Hard stop. Think about that line for a second: “Shhh… we’re hunting rabbits!” Who are you when you’re delivering that line? Where are you? What’s your relationship to your scene partner? How did you deliver that line? All of those answers are up for interpretation by your scene partner. There’s nothing wrong with that… it’s Improv! Have fun! (Phew!)

“A Hot Offer” is an offer initiated to a scene partner that contains answers to all of the above questions (or more!). It sets the stage for the scene and establishes what the Improv world calls “base reality” or a very clear picture of what’s going on for the audience to quickly grasp. It’s “hot” so your scene partner can grab and go! (Yes, “hot offer” is an unscientific term… we’re just using it in class.)

Because I’m not paying to go to class just to laugh at my classmates (though I do more often than not), I related the concept of “hot offers” back to an interview that I was coaching. The interviewee was being asked to pitch his ideas for the role during his interview. It was a marketing role and he’s a marketing guy, so he had a lot to say. He knew that he needed to go in there with a concise presentation that represented both him and his ideas. He need to define his “hot offer.” What did he want the interviewer to react to? On what strengths and skills did he want the organization to leverage? What tone did he need to convey to the interviewer to get his point across? He knew what made him the right candidate for the job, he just needed to define these characteristics for himself and pitch his ideas within that framework. This created his “hot offer”... needless to say he nailed the presentation. 

I, on the other hand, hunted rabbits with my “dad” in my “house” because we were “spending some quality time together” (implied). We had a blast with the bunnies!

Debra Swersky