Whose Line Is It Anyways? Certainly Not Mine

Did you know that public speaking is the number one fear in America? Death is second. No, I am not kidding. When comedian Jerry Seinfeld heard that stat he noted that for the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.

While Seinfeld might be a bit dramatic, public speaking can be scary. Really scary.

Tonight, I am taking public speaking to the next level, by throwing out the script and embracing improv. Here at GovLoop, it is my job to basically to stalk all of you wonderful govies and get your insights and best practices to help other govies do their jobs better. It’s a great job, but one that often leaves me behind the scenes. Safe behind my computer and protected from the judgmental eyes of strangers or worse friends.

But I can’t stay hidden on the sidelines forever. As part of my growth at the company, I am pulling back the curtain and embracing public speaking. Well, not so much embracing as cowering in the corner hoping public speaking won’t leave me in a casket, but I am doing it. Yep, I am throwing caution to the wind and I am taking a two-month class on improv. My class is through the Washington Improv Theater and will apparently convert my current wall flower status to full on prom queen.

Seriously. Just listen to this improv convert.

So as the minutes tick down until my first class starts, help a girl out. Have you ever taken an improv class? Were you scared out of your mind? Did it really help? How so?

Can you tell I am freaking out a little? Help me ease my fears by telling me how improv changed your life and your career.

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Mark Hammer

The art of improv consists not only of being “in the moment”, and reading your partners/audience well, but also doing a quick zoom-out from time to time, to do a frame-grab of the bigger picture, in order to be able to move things in a serviceable direction. As such, improv can probably help you in more ways than you’d think.

1) Even if one has a prepared script and set of slides, one generally solicits questions at the end of a presentation, right? Some folks handle them well, and some look like the proverbial deer in headlights. Improv skills will help you handle questions better.
2) Meetings may not be presentations, but they have a flow to them to is improved by having a sense of direction. Tracking where things are headed will allow you to manage the give and take in a meeting better.

I’ve had the terror of marching into class and finding that my teaching notes were nowhere to be found, leaving me to wing it. Ironically, those have been classes that have received some of the most enthusiastic response. Not that prepared notes are useless, but sometimes the novel can make points more effectively.

Have fun!

Anne Hull

Its one of the scariest things you can imagine…and that’s the key. Its your own imagination. I love the testimonials about everyone feels similar to you: nervous, apprehensive, etc. It does break down the barriers (very helpful in establishing rapport with your public speaking audiences). You can have a lot of fun being a child again. Sure, its harder for introverts because we want to think about what to do, and there is no time to do that. Getting us out of our comfort zone in this fun setting makes it easier when reality demands it. Your public speaking is not about being an entertainer or comedian. Its about effectively getting your message across to people who need to take action or make decisions. Right? To do that, know they want you to be successful and you are human, just like them. Go, and have fun!.