Thanks to one of our recent class members for writing this blog post about her experience in our program. Our next adult improv class begins October 7, and we still have a few spaces available.
Taking the Adult Improv Class has been one of the best things I have done in a very long time, both personally and professionally.
You may ask yourself, “why did a structural engineer take a class in improv?” To explain, I will start by telling you a bit about myself. I have had a life-long fear of public speaking that I have been working to overcome; had you ever had the distinct misfortune to hear me speak publicly during high school or college you will be able to confirm that I am not exaggerating!
I frequently had cause to speak as part of presentations to selection committees, for training, or in my capacity as an officer of a non-profit organization. I found that the more I practiced, the more comfortable I was – to be sure – but only if I knew EXACTLY what I was going to say and had plenty of time to practice. I found that whenever I needed to IMPROVISE at the last minute, answer questions I had not anticipated, or cover for someone else I FROZE! I got stuck in my own head and could not find two words to string together.
Then I celebrated a friend’s birthday at ComedySportz! At the end of the evening, the referee talked about upcoming adult improv classes. I remember thinking, “Well, if those can’t get you out of your comfort zone far enough for you to get over yourself . . .nothing will!”
And then I did a bit of reading. Did you know that some very well-respected MBA programs around the U.S. Are requiring their students to take improv classes as a way to teach communication, listening, brainstorming, and teamwork? I found still more articles that emphasized that improv isn’t about comedy, but about reacting to your surroundings. Well, doesn’t that sound exactly like what I need! Plus, this class fits firmly with my 2015 goals to look for ways to push the boundaries of my comfort zone.
This class was everything I had hoped for, and more! Halfway through the class, I participated in a panel at a conference in Chicago; previously, I would have panicked every time the person to my right or left answered the question in a way similar to what I had planned. Thanks to ComedySportz, Improv and Christine Walters, I was able to stay in the moment, listen to everything that was said (instead of worrying about what I was going to say next), keep a “yes, and” attitude, and build upon what WAS said. Was it perfect – no; was it better – ABSOLUTELY. And I know it will get better the more I practice.
I can no longer say I have a fear of public speaking; Christine even helped with a certain fear of failure! I participated in the public showcase without a thought about what the audience was thinking of me. It is the first time I have ever been on stage and not been completely in my own head! Was I flawless? Absolutely not! But the fear of my potential failure did not weigh me down.
I look forward to taking my next improv class in the fall – perhaps I’ll see you there!