3 steps to over-come Stage Fright through Improv #TeachMeTuesday

Most of my corporate clients say their fear of public speaking stems from a bad childhood experience in front of an audience. Either they forgot a line in their first school play, or froze during an oral presentation. Whether you’re 6 or 60 being confident is a crucial life skill and improv is a great way to learn that skill.

BE IN THE MOMENT: Generally, peoples’ nerves kick in when they hear that voice in their head saying: “I’m gonna forget my lines”. Once we learn how to be in the moment, we don’t have time to think about the voices because we’re “present” when on stage. Even if we do forget a line, we can acknowledge it immediately and move on. Being in the moment is also a core aspect of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which challenges our negative beliefs.  For people suffering anxiety or depression, this is a useful tool to quiet our negative thoughts. 

BE ENGAGING: Body language has a lot to do with how we come off when speaking publicly. If you’re not excited by the content, you can’t expect an audience to be engaged. Although you need to memorize your content, its important to improvise the speech in other words to keep it from sounding and looking rehearsed & mechanical. You may find yourself going off track but by admitting you got distracted, or that the 2 hour power point presentation is less than exciting, you come across as more authentic and captivating; which puts everyone at ease. You might even get a laugh by saying what everyone in the audience was thinking or by being self-effacing.

EMBRACE FAILURE: Just like you aren’t given an eraser in an art class because there are mistakes in art, the same applies in improv. We learn to embrace mistakes because they are invitations to new directions. Sometimes more successful directions. Of course in a play, ideally you say all your lines at the right time, but if you forget a line in a play or presentation you can train yourself to recognize it on the spot and say something else to keep things moving forward. When we learn how to embrace failure, we are open to positive outcomes, which allow us to take risks and experiment. 

loripLori Pearlstein is the owner of PLAYWORKS; which specializes in helping individuals and businesses build communication skills and confidence through improv. Find out more about her at www.lpplayworks.com or 416 648 9055

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