How Can Improv Help With Nervousness?

28 Jun 2011

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1. Simplicity rules

There is a technique called “start in the middle” and another which says “speak to know what you want to say” and both of these are telling us, essentially, to get on with it! Begin with what seems obvious. Just speak - start somewhere - stop procrastinating or worrying.

2. Question yourself

When preparing to give a speech in public, don’t write down a script but do write down questions to yourself, so that during the speech you are essentially answering those questions in an improvised way. If you want to try improvising a whole speech, you can practice at home by picking a random topic and speaking for a couple of minutes on it.

3. What could possibly go wrong?

Shift your attention from yourself to others. Nerves come from anticipating what will go wrong so, if you can switch that off and be in the moment, the nerves should disappear.

4. You, boring? No way!

People are often worried that they are boring. It’s important to remember that what is ordinary to you can often be a revelation to others. You are more interesting than you think…

5. Mistakes are offers

Nerves arise from fear of making mistakes. In improv, we love and embrace mistakes. We actually call them something else entirely - we call them offers. They are an offer to your scene partner to use or explore. In performance, they are often the way that audience relates to you. The audience are usually willing you to succeed and are very supportive if you make a “mistake” or give an entirely unexpected offer.

6. Yes, yes, yes

In improv, we use a game called “Yes, and…”. Using this game, we become more positive. Positivity is something associated with confident people, so saying yes equals confidence.

Next post: Shortform Improv: The Oracle

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