The situation: Halfway through a presentation, you realize that your coworkers are barely paying attention, and your boss looks unimpressed. The few questions you've been asked are only tangentially related to your point, and you're in danger of fumbling the pitch entirely.

The strategy: Wake up your audience and flip your approach. "The ability to change tactics and shift into direct engagement is really important," says Chalfant.
Engage the room by revisiting the questions that your presentation was meant to address, and connect it with what your audience wants and needs. "In scene work, we ask why do we care, and usually we don't care if nobody has emotional stakes yet," Chalfant says. He points to an example where he stopped an improv scene to tell the audience that they were uncomfortable because he was about to simulate an abortion on stage, and that he understood why it weirded some folks out. "You can call out in a meta way what's happening, and just acknowledging that moment can pull everyone together," Chalfant says.

You should probably steer clear of abortion jokes in your pitch, but sharp quips about your dry subject matter can bring your crowd back on board. If you're climbing the ladder, clue in to the 3 Secrets Every Good Manager Knows.

The situation: Your boss asks you to organize monthly happy hours with the office to improve company morale, but he only gives you an empty conference room and few resources to make it a good time. Mingling is limited, and talk rarely veers from work-related issues. If you don't liven the mood, it could reflect poorly on your leadership skills.

The strategy: Acknowledge the situation, and don't be afraid to ask your coworkers for support. "It's about having a conversation," Chalfant says. "Instead of accepting that you're the dork who has to be the cruise director for this thing, tell everybody, Hey the boss asked me to be the cruise director for this thing and I'd like for this to be as not lame as possible."

Ask your coworkers for ideas of games to play or activities to do to take everyone's attention off of the clock and the stack of work waiting for them at their desks. "If everyone can feel like they're in the same boat, it becomes a little easier," Chalfant says.