There are many reasons why people sign up to improv classes, here’s some that you may not have thought of:
You’re looking for more confidence in public speaking
Standing up in front of people and having their eyes on you can scare the bejebus out of most people. It’s terrifying and it can make your knees tremble, your voice quiver and bring on the desire to go home! In fact, most people will go all out to avoid doing it. Surprisingly improv classes can magically dissolve this fear. Once it becomes second nature to stand up in front of people and say the most ridiculous things, it looks like a walk in the park!
You’re not always as confident in general as you could be
Improv gives the opportunity to be whoever you want. You can be a cow in a field, a student who is longing to be a writer, or you can even be a librarian who wants to break out and become a rock star. Discovering that you can stand up, engage an audience and have them all squealing with laughter is certainly the ultimate when it comes to confidence boosting. You are put in a position where you have to step outside of your comfort zone. You’ll find that everybody will help you to become seriously funny and be able to find your own voice.
You’re looking to become a better listener
Just as with any conversation, improv is about giving and taking. It’s not just about waiting for your turn to talk. In improv classes you’ll learn to really focus on what’s being said by your partner and this will help you to become a good listener. You’ll be well practiced and this will be demonstrated in your everyday life when you’re at work etc.
You’ve always wanted to try acting
You can try acting, whilst just laughing, laughing and laughing! In addition, you’ll be meeting some cool and funny new people and having the time of your life.
You want to challenge your creativity
Thinking fast has just become your new norm. You’re training your brain to think on its feet and that’s wonderful for the brain’s creativity muscles. Not only will this reflect in the office, but it will also help with any other situation.
You need a new social outlet
Get ready to meet a load of people that you never thought you’d meet and potentially make good friends with them. Improv appeals to all types of people and you’re going to find you live better because of it. You’ll meet people from all over the local area and they may well be from outside your usual social group.
The first time people do improv classes, they usually have no idea what to expect. But any anxiety soon goes and it gives a chance to come out of any shell.
These are some of the reasons I signed up for the Improv Dojo - now's your turn....
How I learned to Speak Faster on My Feet
Have you lost a great deal of confidence in public speaking? Do your palms sweat or does your mind go blank when the spotlight is on you? First things first, you are not alone! Many people experience this sudden hike in anxiety, which is caused due to the intense pressure of speaking out in public. No one enjoys answering unexpected questions or the sudden awkwardness of hundreds of eyes staring at you, waiting for an answer. It’s extremely stressful!
However, not all has been lost, there is still hope for you! Yes, it is possible to learn to speak faster, clearly and confidently on your feet. It all boils down to practicing a couple of tactics and skills that are mentioned in this article and you’ll be all set to speak out confidently and concisely on your feet.
Learn to Relax While Under Pressure
It is imperative to learn how to relax your nerves while your body is under pressure. This involves practicing proper breathing techniques, which will effectively calm your senses and make you more focused towards your goal. It is vital to slow down your breathing and eliminate your inner voice. By lengthening and deepening your breath, you will be releasing low levels of hormone neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine, thereby, creating a relaxed response. In addition to this, breathing slowly also reduces our heart rate and blood pressure.
To eliminate the ‘mind chatter,’ it is best to concentrate on the rhythm of your breath or use meditation techniques, which is an even more effective solution. Another great solution is to repeat questions in your mind as this gives you time to think about a response.
Pay Close Attention & Pause
It is quite obvious that concentrating solely on the questioner and listening without any distraction will deem a successful answer, especially for technical individuals. In order to deliver a successful answer that challenges the questioner, it is important that you pay close attention to the question being asked and establish stronger eye contact to showcase confidence. In case you are unclear about the question, look directly at the questioner and ask him/her to repeat the question. A great technique is to repeat the questions so that you are able to rephrase it slightly. Allowing it to be less aggressive and broader in focus, this is a great help especially when you are feeling stressed.
What’s more, you should always pause before responding so that you look careful, thoughtful and respectful. Even if you know the answer, preventing yourself from blurting it out as this might make you look anxious and insecure.
When you are under pressure, it is most likely that you will either ramble or answer too briefly. That’s why it is important that you keep your nerves in check as it allows you to select the best organization structure. Learning a couple of impromptu response structures will structure your answers to be more confident and organized. There are three types of impromptu responses: PREP (Position, reason, example, position), PEP (Point, Example, Point) and dividing your responses.
I learned and practiced many of these skills at the Improv Dojo. Weekly practice getting up and performing has made me more confident, comfortable and oh, yes.....Faster on My Feet.
Have you lately experienced a sudden blow to your conversational and social skills? Wondering where to get that confidence boost from so that you can continue to master these skills? This is a great time to enroll in an improv class and enjoy an experience like never before. Improv classes not only improve your conversational and social skills significantly, but they are fun and interesting as well, so much so that you will want to enroll for the next course as well. In this article, you will see what improve classes teach you and how it can be applied to life.
What Happens at an Improv Class?
A standard improv class consists of 10 to 15 students who originate from all walks of life. This includes aspiring actors with prior training, stiff office drones looking for a creative outlet and others who are aimless Millennials who simply want to gain some insight into their dimly cubicle job. The instructor begins with a number of warm-up exercises and games, before steadily dividing people into small groups to enact scenes in front of the entire class. As the scenes progress, the instructor will provide instructions in line with ‘imagine you are all on a train and… the train is made of jelly!’
It’s very much similar to what you might have experienced in a drama class at your school. Yes, being a tree and all of that is still a crucial part of improv classes, but the only difference is that it involves a bunch of adults instead of children. In order to benefit the most from your improv classes, you need to put aside your cynicism. The overall goal of enrolling in an improv class is to challenge your current state and broaden the limits of your character. Therefore, you need to be prepared, beforehand to shed off your inhibitions.
Here are the three things I learned and how I applied it in everyday life:
Saying Yes to Everything
One of the key aspects of improv is the ability to say yes to everything. The very moment you say no in a scene, it is no longer fun and it shuts off the scene. No matter how random an idea might seem, you need to go along with it so that the scene progresses further. So for instance, if someone says: ‘we’re on a plane made of cheese,’ you should agree with them rather than saying it’s an absurd idea. This can effectively work in normal conversations. For example, you meet a girl in a pub and she begins talking about how marvellous her trip to Scotland was and starts to bore you with all the details. Instead of shutting her out, or seeming like you are bored out of your wits, try to hold on to the conversation and figure out the humorous possibilities that can make the conversation even more engaging in a respectful manner.
Stop Worrying About Being Clever or Funny
The second rule of improv classes is to stop trying to be the next Nietzsche or Steven Martin. It’s normal to expect that not everything that will come out of your mouth will be earth-shatteringly intelligent or perfectly-formed idea. It takes time and practice to master these skills and it eventually comes naturally to everyone. Rather, try to take the pressure of being impressive and focus upon being your true self, through this you will see that your mind works more efficiently.
The Amazing Power of Persistent Eye Contact
A great technique that improv classes teach you is to hold sustained eye contact for a longer period without feeling any kind of embarrassment or awkwardness. Regardless of the type of acting, you need to be able to be self-contained and still. This technique is a great confidence booster and you will be able to look at people unwaveringly and more steadily.
The Improv Dojo gave me a place to jump in and try. Give it a try! You never know what you might learn about improv, yourself and life.
Whether you have a lot of natural humor or not really doesn’t matter with improv. After all, it’s not just about making people laugh, it can also help with collaboration skills, good communication and you can become more open minded.
Being asked to go on stage, in front of hundreds of people you don’t know and make them laugh sounds like something from a bad dream. However, entrepreneur and comedian Bill Connolly thinks otherwise. He believes that it’s necessary to do something to improve your career and that improv classes provide this. In his book ‘Funny Business’, you can read about how he is not only a funny comedian, but he is a marketing and branding expert and he knows what he’s talking about.
His professional skills really took off when he started taking improv classes. He felt far more confident, creative and his fear of failure said goodbye. Here’s how it happens:
You are Forced to Collaborate
The ‘yes… and’ exercise is very powerful when it comes to business and collaboration. This exercise is used to listen to what somebody is saying and then to build on it. The ‘nay saying’ that goes on in the business world can be deflating and competitive but in improv, it’s about accepting somebody else’s idea and then building on it which can make for a refreshing change for many professionals. The purpose is to get people to collaborate and enjoy any idea that has been brought to the table and then accepting and improving on it is the way to go.
You have to Let go of Judgement
Judgement doesn’t serve anybody well in improv. It’s also something that should not be in business brainstorming sessions or it can put a block on the flow of creativity. Although we all like to be ‘right’ allowing this to run our lives can interrupt progress. You don’t have to come up with the best ideas from the get-go as the creative building process will help your ideas develop and the results can be spectacular.
Everything has to be created on the spot in improv classes, there’s no chance to sit back and think about it. You just have to get on with it. Fortunately, this is also something that can allow a company to go forward instead of being caught up in the heavy nets of discussion and judgement.
You Become a Better Listener
With improv, you have to be very clear about what you’re saying. Ideas are said, but if they aren’t delivered in a way that others will understand they’ll be lost. It makes you a good listener as you have to read what people are saying and ensure that you’re on top of that.
Improv helps everybody to learn to listen and understand the viewpoint before responding and reacting. Something that most people could benefit from.
Improv classes may not look as though they offer all this on first look, but they provide a great setting to stretch yourself and hone skills that can be used in a variety of different settings including professional ones. There’s also new people to meet, who you may not have come across otherwise. Improv classes can give you that piece of life that you just didn’t realise was missing until you found it.
Come along and join the Improv Dojo - it will change your life..
Imagine it. You’re in a group setting at a social event. You utter the most marvelous aside that is heard by all present. The group erupts laughing and one person is even wiping tears away from their eyes. You stand there and enjoy the glory. Before you go to bed, you replay the scene a few times, enjoying every moment, feeling amused and laughing to yourself.
These are the moments that we all love. Attending improv comedy classes provide a chance to improve this skill, but also improves the following skills that can be applied to business. What’s not to like!?!
1) Keep building on ideas.
One exercise that is done in the improv class is called ‘Yes… and’. The purpose of this exercise is to build on what was just said. For example ‘We should go to McDonalds to get a hamburger’ will then be built on such as ‘yes, we should go to McDonalds for a hamburger, and then get an apple pie for dessert.’ Agreement with your partner is required and then you add to it.
This exercise is about being positive and adding to the last idea. In business, sometimes the first instinct can be to look for a negative as to why something shouldn’t be done. This improv exercise means you have to be open to ideas, instead of looking to shut them down and it can bring some exciting results to the boardroom as it becomes apparent that any idea can be a good idea, it may just need moulding.
2) Don’t plan too far ahead.
There are occasions where we’re given a situation to play act such as, “You’ve arrived at Central Station in New York… Go!” In my mind, I’m planning to be a commuter who is under stress about getting home to his pregnant wife. But then one of my partners says, “Hey, look it’s a homeless man with just one arm sitting on a skateboard.”
Being caught off guard like that and having to think on your feet is a good brain exercise. Planning ahead proves to be futile and being fully tuned into the group is essential to respond well. Although it’s good to plan for the future, sometimes being in the ‘now’ is far more effective.
3) Keep it simple.
Simple skits often prove to be the best ones. Children in a candy store, a student preparing for an exam or a couple of men at a 49ers game. The more complex ones usually aren’t quite so popular with the audience and can result in forced applause.
Simple ideas are far easier to understand and relate to in the business world too. Although sophistication may be appealing, it’s not always what is best for a business. Improv is the reminder that sometimes ‘simple’ is the best way.
4) Be comfortable with no script.
When presentations are being delivered, most people have access to note cars or have access to a script. They will know what they’re about to say, and know that if they could do it on the fly it would actually be far more engaging for the audience.
Improv just doesn’t have a script. You are also never entirely sure what will come out of your mouth. But that easiness makes it possible to feel far more relaxed on stage and to leave the main script when necessary.
5) Be confident.
If there’s something that I’ve learned from improv it’s that it’s not always what you say, it’s sometimes about how you say it. Although you may have the funniest line ever in your mind, if you deliver it with a quiet and nervous voice, it won’t make the right impact. By thinking about posture and delivery of the message / humor in addition to the content, it can be received so much better. Displaying confidence makes all the difference.
Improv classes can be amusing and fun, but they can also improve on skills that are used in the workplace. Isn’t it time you do the Improv Dojo?