Public speaking is one of the biggest fears many people have. Many try to overcome their communication anxiety by taking a public speaking class or hiring a private coach. As someone who has taught both improv and public speaking, I can say without hesitation that improv helps students of all ages and levels. How?
You learn the power of a good story.
Often when go to write speeches, we’re thinking about how to talk about hitting our sales goals, or the amazing patent we just filed. But as any good wedding speech can demonstrate, what really holds our attention are the stories that are told. Improv is all about telling compelling stories. When you learn to anchor your speeches with a story, you’re going to be a better public speaker.
You learn to use your voice and your body.
There are a lot of things body language and tone of voice tell us about the speaker. One of the improv exercises I use when teaching public speaking classes forces people not to use English words. All of a sudden people have to use their body and their voice to communicate. When you’re not relying as heavily on the words, the words have more impact.
You get outside of your comfort zone.
People are afraid of public speaking because they’re afraid of failure. Improv forces you to do something completely different, especially in that it embraces failure. There are no mistakes in improv. When you’re in a supportive class or with a supportive coach and you are allowed to fail, you begin to realize that your audience wants you to succeed. Whether it’s doing improv or giving a speech, the audience is rooting for you.
You get to practice.
Just like any skill, you’re not going to get better if you don’t practice. Doing improv gives you chances to exercise your public speaking muscles.
The number one thing I learned for public speaking is that you’re not going to be able to speak like anyone else. You’re not Steve Jobs, or Brene Brown, and you shouldn’t try to be. Using improv as your tool to become a better public speaker builds the confidence you need to tell your own story.
So if you have an event coming up, a big sales meeting, or a wedding, I can help you work on your speech, and work on your skills. And if you’re just looking to conquer a little bit of that fear, start with an improv class. You’re allowed to fail, but first you have to allow yourself to try.