Never Be Monotone Again
We wanted to address monotone and vocal levels, so we call this section Never Be Monotone Again and we're gonna do an exercise called Levels and this is an acting exercise, that most actors have done at some point in time and we have found it really useful to play with this game, Levels, because one of the things that it can do is ask us to take something, that we do a lot or a phrase, that we say a lot or a talk that we give very often and really start to game-ify it for ourselves and remember the excitement and remember how to play with it and remember how to make it fun, so that it can feel fun and fresh every time we give this talk. So I would like to have a volunteer come up here and join me and just so you know, I'm just gonna ask you to tell a little kind of one-minute story, just so that, and you've already been telling stories, so you're ready for that, so anyone come on up here and join me.
I haven't figured a story, so I feel unprepared.
Oh boy, you're ...
gonna have to improvise. (laughs)
I guess so. (laughs)
Okay, come stand here, I'll be here with you, I got you.
No Worries, I don't know what story you're gonna tell either.
I have no idea.
So, is there maybe, let's figure the story out, is there maybe a story, that you feel like you tell a lot or you know, we all kind of have those like five or six go-to stories, that--
Is there one of those,
that comes to mind for you?
Great, so we found your story,
that was easy.
And so, first we're gonna just start playing with your voice and your emotion and your pace, but before we do that, we wanna just hear Alva's version of the story, so will you give us about a minute
of a story?
And I'm going to watch the clock up there, 'cause I don't want you to feel constrained by that,
so just about a minute.
This is how I became an improvisation addict. I was working at a very, very stressful job and I had decided it was time to leave that and move on to something else. The last week I was on the job, I went to the gym and there was a hand-written sign, sort of standing up on a table at the gym, saying, Improvisation here this Sunday, show up at two o'clock and I showed up and ever since then, I have slowly become improv-seeking.
That was great. (laughing) Oh my goodness, that was like a thirty-five second, amazing story.
Was it 35 seconds? (audience applauding)
You know what, you teach the rest.
I'm going to sit down. (laughing)
That's amazing, thank you, goodbye Sammy, goodbye. Yeah, that was beautiful, it was beautiful
It was alright?
and so succinct. Yeah, what are some things, that you liked about that story or just Alva's telling of that story?
Strong beginning, strong ending.
Strong, yeah, what else? Yes, Heidi.
Her body language, she was just so engaging, you could just feel it in her.
Yes, the passion already there, right? So now, because you have that story and remember, we've highlighted that story in your brain,
so we sort of reactivated that a little bit. Now we wanna just play around with it a little bit. You don't have to say it exactly the same, tell the same story, but don't worry about like I used this word or this word, don't worry about those specifics,
you're just gonna tell us the same story again, but this time, I want you to tell that story like you're a pirate telling that story, so I want you to do the affectations of a pirate, you can have a hook or not, it's totally up to you. Alright?
Aye, I want to tell you now what became of me, as I was possessed by improvisation, hey, I was, I was, I was, matey, yay, (laughing) no questions, yah, yah, yah, hey, life was stressful, but I found out there was a sign with an X mark, there was an X mark and I followed the X and that was the end of the rest of my life!
Yeah! (audience applauding and laughing) Sammy's having a Joey Baloney moment again. That was beautiful, what did you love about that? It was so surprising, what did you love about it?
She was so into character
She was so in character, I know, what else did you love about it? Yes, Jared?
I just love this German pirate, (laughing) right, it was like that.
Was that pirate, was that German?
I dunno, part of it was.
It was a worldly pirate, pirates traveled a lot, right.
Oh, it was so cool.
Yeah, it was so cool, What else was cool about it?
The energy and leaning in really forward, her hooked hand, her eyebrow, her eye squinted
and that was the end of my life, (laughing) yeah, it was like improv.
Yeah. In Alva's original telling of the story, was there an emotion or like an adjective, that you would use to describe that story, either your takeaway or just the emotion, that it was told with?
Heidi, what were you gonna say?
Life changing, so I want you to tell that same story again as Alva,
we know the pirate's in there somewhere, but as Alva and when I, I'm gonna go one through five, okay? When I say one, it means it's like the least sincere,
okay, the least sincere life changing moment. When I get to five, that is the most sincere that you could possibly be
and when I say sincere, it may feel a little inauthentic, because we're playing with this conceit, right? But we just wanna play with amplifying these different emotions, okay? Yeah, how about if I come here?
Does that help?
Yeah, that helps.
Okay, so you can see me and you're still in the light?
So, something happened that changed my life and that was just as I was ending a very, very stressful job and things were you know, not really very open and I saw a sign at this gym I went to and it was a sign, that said, You can have improvisation here on Saturday, so I decided I was gonna do that, I was gonna really go for it and when I did, I actually experienced what it was like to be a little bit of an improviser and it really, oh my gosh, I turned on all the cells in my body, I just got, you know, just really, really inspired and, you know, it was really something for me. So I went forward and I kind of looked for some more improvisation in my life and I eventually saw a listing, that Col Jamarin had a class and wow! (audience applauding)
Yay! That was so good. Thank you for being just willing to play, and stay up here with me for a moment, will you? Talk about that, what was that like to experience that and watch it?
The speed of transformation, you just went so quickly.
Seamlessly, yeah, it was lovely.
Faster than a Tesla.
Yes, what else did you notice as an observer?
She was gesticulating more, I guess, more hand movements, when she became more sincere, more authentic and louder as well.
Right, when it got like to four or five, there was just much more,
the volume changed, sometimes the pace quickened, sometimes the pace slowed down, it depended on how she wanted to emphasize words, right, so there was a volume, a pitch, a pace change, all of those things in the body language changed, right? So the idea is that we just wanna play with the language and we wanna find different ways to access that, so we can give it emotion and we can just play the whole thing with that emotion, we can play with the paragraph, if we've given ourselves, I don't often script my talks, but I'll give bullet points, so as I'm practicing it, I might record myself and I might notice like, oh, I've been sort of the same for these two paragraphs, right, I need to mix it up, so what is the sentiment, that I actually want to communicate or what is the sentiment I want to give or what is it, I'm saying I'm excited, but I don't sound excited, it's amazing how often we coach people, that say, "I'm really excited to be here." (audience laughing) And like they really are excited, but they're so nervous or they're so worried or they're so scared or whatever it is and we want you to say, "I'm really excited to be here." So, playing with that and finding a way to then make it feel authentic is important, so it's a matter of really playing with the language and playing with the emotion and playing with the pitch and the pace and all of these gifts that we have, that are part of our voice and our body language. Will you do it one more time for us?
Yeah. Will you start to tell your story, like it's a joke that has an amazing punchline, that you can't wait to get to, yeah? So we get to have that anticipation, great, just for a couple of seconds.
So, there was this really tough job, that I was just finishing up and I was really glad to see that go, but... you know what, I was kind of going into nothingness and I just happened to see something handwritten, somebody had just written something on a piece of paper and stuck it at the gym (laughs) and it said, Improvisation, Saturday, two o'clock.
That's great, that's great,
that was just great, yeah, will you clap for her? (audience applauding) Thank you, you can sit down, thank you for doing that, Alva,
Alva, as you're sitting down, I want you to tell us what that was like, 'cause you just went through like three, four different iterations of the same story, tell us what that was like for you.
It was really, really, fun, I got to, just like you said, when you said, "Play with the language," it just was like a light bulb going off, it was great and playing with the language is such a wonderful inspiration, really, thanks.
I felt like I was taking up too much time,
which seems to be what I think too much, so that was great.
Yeah, it was great and you were fantastic and great,
and it's a wonderful reminder for us to say we weren't bored by it, we could have continued to watch you try different parts of that, so it's a wonderful theater technique, a wonderful exercise to go through and play and sometimes what we do is, what actors do is we'll have someone score their script, so if there are moments that you really want to remember and again, I don't write a script, I do bullet points, but I might put next to one of my bullet points, I often color-code as well, something like Breathe, I'm a really fast talker, when I get excited, I talk too quickly, when I get nervous, I talk too quickly, so I will literally put in something like, Breathe or I'll put a little, the mantra word, that we did in elevator pitch, one of our other classes, I might put, Inspire, right, I might put, Excited, I might put little notes for myself throughout the script just to remind myself, after I've done it ten times, so that stuff might start to go away, so having a little note for myself in my presenter notes or anything just to remind me like, this is that feeling that I wanna carry forward and I want to be transformed in this way as a presenter and I wanna transform my audience in this way and there are these little tools, that we can use to do that. Anything you wanted to add?
No, I think I've seen a lot of great ways, that people have scored their script, like you were saying,
so really just kind of your own interpretation, but it's all about knowing that there's a spectrum with every single
mode and every single function of you as a communicator and a presenter and really there's no right or wrong, it's just playing with them, so what is your one and what is your ten with this emotion, this volume, this rate or speed of speaking, this amount of energy on stage, so just play with those things and then once you have your own kind of grab bag or scoring system, then you can start to apply that and I've seen people use literal numbers
or color code there, you know, confidence monitor notes, whatever it means to you, whatever's the easiest for you to follow, just do that.
Yeah, it's a great tool, so I'm excited to hear how you use it and we encourage any of you at home, that are trying this, if you have a presentation, that you're working on to go through and try this, maybe on just one part of it, one paragraph and just see how it transforms what it is that you're working on.