Public speaking. We’ve all done it and at times hate it, especially me. I’m that girl who stumbles her words, sweats profusely, and shakes as if I were holding a pair of maracas. Talking in front of people is something I’ve never been comfortable doing, but it’s something I know I can’t avoid. Everyone always tells me, “The more you do it, the better you get at it,” which is why I decided to try improv during improve it!’s public workshop.
I figured it would be a lot more amusing than your typical Speech Class 101. I used to watch Whose Line Is It Anyway 2-3 times a week, so I knew what improv was, but I couldn’t picture myself being as funny as Ryan Stiles or singing nearly as good as Wayne Brady (trust me, I’ve tried). Yet, I knew getting out of my comfort zone would help me overcome my fear of public speaking, even if it was just for the night. To my surprise, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever shared with complete strangers that taught me three important things:
It’s okay to be silly – Watching the improvisers be silly right off the bat took me by surprise, but eventually encouraged me to do the same. Once I did, I realized how quickly I was bonding with everyone and that being silly is what brings people together. Our walls of being strangers were automatically taken down by a simple laugh, and we eventually didn’t care about anything else.
It’s okay to fail – There’s obviously a pressure of being funny or making people laugh when you’re doing improv, but I realized it’s better when you don’t think at all. Instead of planning what you’re going to say next, listen to those around you and say the first thing that comes to mind. That’s what actually makes the scene fun. Even if the first thing sounds absolutely ridiculous, the people around you will surprisingly laugh and cheer you on. It really is OK to fail. In fact, you really can’t be wrong when it comes to improv – whatever you say goes!
It’s okay to be yourself – My favorite part about the workshop was seeing all of the different personalities shine through, especially the ones that were completely unexpected. Every single person in that room brought something different and unique to their scenes.
I’m obviously not saying I’m a pro at public speaking now, but doing improv definitely made me feel more confident getting in front of 50+ people numerous times. Instead of dreading my turn like I always do, I couldn’t wait to go next, which is something I never expected. If you’re someone like me who hates public speaking, save yourself some sweat stains and sign up for a workshop with improve it! I promise you’ll surprise yourself and it’s a pretty cool feeling.
Andrea Esquinca is is the coordinator at improve it! where she works closely with Erin to make sure every workshop gives our clients the best possible experience. She is soon to graduate from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in Advertising/Public Relations and Marketing.