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Improve Your Presentations With Improv Thinking

Lesson 5 of 6

How to Take Creative Risks


Improve Your Presentations With Improv Thinking

Lesson 5 of 6

How to Take Creative Risks


Lesson Info

How to Take Creative Risks

So this is how to take creative risks like an improviser. So as an improviser, when we're performing, for example, in stage shows, we have no idea what's going to happen next. We don't know who the characters are, we don't know what the story is, we have no idea, we don't have a script, we have no lines, so everything we're doing is a creative risk. So when we're moving through our work and our lives and our jobs, we're consistently taking creative risks. And part of saying, "Yes, and," allows us to be more open to creative risk-taking, because it creates a safe environment to do that. But we also really wanna play with what this does to our brain and how it makes us feel when we are taking a creative risk. A lot of us are really afraid of failure for good reason, right? So a lot of us are afraid to take a risk because it might result in failure. So what we wanna do is we wanna start to train our brain to literally retrain those neural pathways that may no longer be doing us any good t...

o embrace creative risk-taking, to be comfortable with creative risk-taking, and to know when it's a good risk versus a bad risk that maybe we want to put a boundary around. So, I think we should just get two volunteers up. What do you think? Let's try it. I think we need to demo it, yeah. So could we have two volunteers to try this, please? Two other from- (Kimberly gasps) Oh, round of applause. Look at that! Yeah, that was so good. Round of applause. Will you come stand here for us? Just stand right here. Beautiful, thank you. So, you're going to count together in a pattern. I'm actually gonna stand in the middle of you so I can coach you here. So you're gonna count in a pattern together, and the pattern is one, two, three, one, two, three. Got it? So, it would be like one, two, three. Got it? Okay. So I want you to face each other, pretend I'm not here, ignore me, ignore me doing this, I'm gonna step over here so I'm out of your way, and I want to focus on each other. Yeah, go ahead. One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. One. Two. That was great. It was so good! (applause) You were like the best ever at this exercise. What was something in the audience, what was something you noticed that they did really well, that helped them be successful? Oh, Jerry. Eye contact. Such good eye contact with each other. It was so, yeah, they found, they were in the zone, almost immediately, right? It was magic. Oh, Ava. They kind of had a rhythm almost, too. Yeah. It was, "one, two, three, one, two, three." It was like a dance? Yes. Yeah, so because you guys are so good at that, we wanna make it a little bit harder, because you're obviously experts. So, now we're gonna replace, we're in the same pattern, but we're gonna replace one with a clap. So the pattern becomes (clap) two, three, (clap) two, three. Got it? All right. It's, this game is designed to be hard, it's designed to put a challenge in front of us, and it's also designed to create a space where we're probably going to mess up and fail. So if you mess up, you're playing the game correctly. So know that, so let yourselves off the hook, and then I'll tell you what happens- What if we don't mess up? Well then, you're magical and maybe a robot. Okay. (laughter) Yeah, okay, ready? All right. (clap) Two. Three. (clap) Two. (laughs) Three. (clap) Two. Three. (clap) Two. Three. (clap) Two. Three. (clap) Two. Three. That was about, there was a little stumble, right? Yeah. So instead of having to like, pick up the stumble, what I want you to do is when something goes even a little bit wrong, we're gonna celebrate the creative risk. So even if something goes a little bit wrong, like I always do this, (clap) two at the same, like I wanna clap. Yeah, yeah. Right, so if that happens, instead of being like, "Ooh, ooh, I didn't do that, let's just keep going," I want you both to throw your arms in the air together and go, "Woohoo!" (laughs) And I want you to celebrate that you took a creative risk. We're not celebrating that something went wrong. We're celebrating we took a risk, and we're gonna be okay, and then we're gonna get right back up and try it again. Got it? So I want you to try this time, we're gonna go, (clap) (stomp) three. Oh dear. (laughs) (clap) (stomp) three, right? Get a little bit closer together, will you? Okay, and go as fast as you can, because if you mess up, we're here to support you. If in the audience when you see that happen, we are allowed too woohoo with them in support, okay? So it's clap step three? Yep. Okay. You got it. You got it. (clap) (stomp) Three. (clap) (stomp) Three. (clap) (stomp) Three. (clap) (clap) No. (cheering) Great, so something happens when we make a mistake often, right? Our body language goes in, right? Which you demonstrated beautifully. It's an internal thing of, oh, I messed up. But what we wanna do is be like, ooh, I took a risk, right? And I messed up and I'm okay. So it's really just retraining our brain to know when that's the feeling we should embrace. So will you do it again and go as fast as you can and a little bit louder, like if you make a mistake, I want it to be loud and proud, okay? Go. (clap) (stomp) Three. (clap) (stomp) Three. (clap) (stomp) Three. (clap) (stomp) Three. (clap) (stomp) Three. (clap) (stomp) Three. That's so good. (cheering) I messed up, it was me, it was my fault, awesome. So now I want you guys to go back to one, two, three, one, two, three, just the numbers, okay? Okay. Okay. One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. One. Two. It's so good. You guys can stop, yay! (applause) Did it feel, it looked like it felt easier when you went back to one, two, three. Yes. Was that the experience? Did it felt easier? Yes. What do you think that's about? I guess my brain was already in that cadence or in that zone where I was able to use, I don't know, a smaller part of my brain, a smaller percentage. It just felt easier. Yeah. It felt easier. Yeah, how about for you? It was more focused because I didn't have to figure out what I'm doing. Yeah, so we made it really hard, with all these extra things, right? (laughs) And there is another level, if you wanna try this at home, where you put something into the place of three. So it can become like, (clap) (stomp) (laughs) Or, right? So you take words away completely. But the idea is that we start adding these things that make it hard for us, so that when we go back to that normal, it feels so much easier. And there's something about that, I think, that can be really powerful and a reminder for us about why it's important to take a big risk and keep taking steps towards risks, because it does, it feels really scary and hard in the moment, but just in, like, two minutes, you guys made something hard really easy, right? It became easier in just a couple of minutes, in just doing that work. Let's give them a round of applause. (applause) Thank you. What did we see when they were doing that? Obviously it started with something very simple, counting to three together, but what was going on from your perspective? One thing that I noticed just watching was you guys got nervous for them. There was a lot of empathy from the audience. Right? Yeah. As I started giving them more things to do, there was a little bit of a look of like, "I'm so glad that's not me." Or like, "Oh, that looks really hard, oh I'm with them." There was a lot of empathy from the audience. And some of you have played this exercise before, so you know, "Oh, that can be hard." So there was so much love and empathy and support for both of you from the people in the room with you. I love that exercise, just like the other ones we've done so far today, and a lot of the ones that we're gonna do today and tomorrow. They just really come down to being present, not thinking ahead, and focusing on your partner. I mean, really, that's at the heart of a lot of these, and you don't have to be some incredible performer or incredibly intelligent or know all these different subject matters. It's really just about what do I do next? How do I help this person? Don't think ahead, just be there with that person. So great, so we're gonna do one last exercise. Well, you did ask the question but you didn't give them a chance to answer of what did you notice? Oh, did you notice? Was there anything that you noticed? Well, you asked the question and I answered it. There was telepathy. Yeah, you asked and I answered. I'll write it down. But I just wanna make sure we leave space for that, if there were things that you noticed or observed as an audience member in watching them do that exercise. Oh yeah? They were patiently supportive of each other. Oh. How so? How did that show up for you? Well, one would clap, and the other one was like, "Okay, I've got this, and now it's your turn." You could tell. Yeah. They didn't rush the other person. So there was some nice body language of like, "I did this, now it's your turn." But not in a sort of like, "Come on." Just a very like, "We're in it together," right? And it feels so good to have your partner be in it with you. Yeah, thanks for sharing that. Anyone else? It's interesting how this simple movement can be pretty hard to do, and I was having empathy, like how are they doing this? Because I would not step at the right time or I'd say the number or something, and it instantly becomes a lot harder. Yeah, it's a great exercise to try. I really encourage everyone to try it at some point. Grab a partner and try it with someone, because it is this exercise in letting yourself do something that you're not going to be great at. It's that beginner mindset, right? Of trying something that's going to be hard, that's designed to be hard, and you have to kind of go into it knowing maybe, you guys were great at that, like you were unusually great at that. You may have to go into it knowing that "I'm not gonna be perfect at this." And there's something really delightful about allowing our brain and our bodies to be in that space, and then get through it and remember also, our brains, to have that moment of "I'm gonna be okay. "I did something hard and I'm okay."

Class Description

For many people, public speaking is downright scary. When they’re given the task of making a speech or presentation at work or in their personal life, they’re overcome with dread and anxiety, worried that they’ll fail and make a fool of themselves.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Not only can you learn to be a confident, effective and relaxed public speaker, you can even have fun in the process. This course uses improvisational thinking to give you the tools to not only be a great speaker, but also a better leader, team player, listener, storyteller and more authentic version of yourself.

This course is taught by Kimberly MacLean and Sammy Wegent of Speechless, a groundbreaking organization that helps companies bring more creativity and comedy to their business communications. Both Kimberly and Sammy have extensive experience as actors, comedians, instructors and presenters, and are eager to help you put a little show business into your business.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Use improvisational thinking and methodology in your public speaking.
  • Get over your fear of public speaking and build confidence.
  • Do physical and linguistic exercises to loosen you up.
  • Take creative risks.
  • Create structure for your presentations.
  • Utilize improvisational best practices.
  • Add fun and comedy to your speeches and presentations.


jared polivka

This course was amazing! I learned so much about how to be a better public speaker - from body language, to tone, to adding color and advancing my story, to personally connecting with the audience, to finishing strong, etc. I learned so much. I highly recommend Sammy and Kimberly's course. This class has real exercises that you can practice solo and as a group. If you want to be more comfortable, confident and become a better speaker... this is the class :) Enjoy it!


I learned so much from this course! Public speaking can be such a stressful situation but these tips help you to relax and have fun. I highly recommend this course.

Guy Samuel

Short, focused and entertaining! These tips and exercises are easy to understand and easy to apply to your everyday life. Definitely recommended.