Season 1, Episode 17

Neil Mullarkey, Austin Powers star, author, improv comedian and business guru

by | Mar 25, 2023 | 0 comments

Episode 17 of Pitch Masters features the incredible Neil Mullarkey, author of Seven Steps to Improve Your People Skills, and In The Moment, actor and improv comedy maestro. We talk about how to use improv in business, how to cast the perfect team for your pitch, debunking the myth of “Yes, and…”, mirror neurons and monkeys, and, of course, Swedish-made penis enlargers.

Ben Williams

You may know Neil Mullarkey from the scene in Austin Powers with the Swedish-made…ahem…enlarger (yes, it’s SFW!), or you may know him as an author, a Comedy Store Player, or even as a leadership coach; but what I wanted to know was…how does he pitch?

I was lucky enough to be taught ‘business improv’ by Neil a few years ago, and the lessons I learned from him have stuck with me forever. We met downstairs at the Comedy Store in London and spent an entire day telling stories and learning how the exact techniques used in improv comedy are directly applicable to business. In this episode, we drill down deep so that you can learn them too.

Many people will know some of these techniques, but I often see them taken entirely out of context and used in the wrong way – the most common of these being “Yes, and…”. The misconception is that when we’re having conversations in business, we should never say “Yes, but…” as this is ‘going against’ the other person. Instead, we should say “Yes, and…” to build on what they are saying. The problem is that many people believe that simply swapping the words out is enough to create some kind of magical psychological difference – but it isn’t. Neil explains how the concept has absolutely nothing to do with the actual words; it’s all about accepting an offer, and adding to its value, regardless of whether we say yes, no, and, but, maybe, definitely, or leaping locusts.

We also talk about the roots of improv and its application in non-comedic situations such as social care and policing. We discuss the power of stories and why we feel emotions when we watch movies (mirror neurons and the scientific studies done with monkeys and nuts). We delve into whether we should have humour in our pitches (we should!!) and how we can do it without sounding like a bad standup comedian. We discuss props, Newton and Darwin, energy, nerves, scripts, and intros.

This is an episode that is packed with a thousand usable tips for when you’re next pitching.

You can find out more about Neil on his website, and order his new book In The Moment over at Koganpage.

Below is a short clip from our “Yes, and…” conversation – follow me on social media for more videos on Tiktok, Instagram, Linkedin, and YouTube.

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