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Improve Your Presentations With Improv Thinking

Lesson 3 of 6

Warm-up Like an Improviser


Improve Your Presentations With Improv Thinking

Lesson 3 of 6

Warm-up Like an Improviser


Lesson Info

Warm-up Like an Improviser

We've been talking for a while, so it feels like we should so some stuff. What do you think? Let's do some stuff. Great. So the next section is called Warm-up Like an Improviser, as promised. So we want to work with you on how we warm up like an improviser. So we're gonna ask our audience here with us to participate, we encourage you at home to also get up and do this with us. So the first thing we want to do is a shake-out. So can everyone stand up, take care of yourselves. One of the things we wanna be sure we do is always take care of ourselves physically. So if we ask you to do something that maybe you physically can't do, adapt it so that you can. If we ask you to stand and you need to sit, then sit. If we ask you to shake an arm and that shoulder's injured, of course always take care of yourself. So the first thing I want us to do is imagine that my hands are your feet, and I want you to just rock a little bit. So like heels and ball of your feet, heels and ball of your feet,...

until you find what feels like you're really centered and grounded. In your mind I want you to almost imagine that you have roots going through your feet, down to the floor. But one of the great things about doing this is it can help prevent for any of you that might kind of do this stuff, right, and wiggle back and forth. Just getting ourselves really grounded can be important. The next thing I want you to do is take a nice, deep breath in, and when you do that, I want you to lift your shoulders up. (group inhaling) And then as you exhale I want you to roll them back. (group exhaling) That seemed so nice. Let's do it again. (group inhaling) Roll them back. (group exhaling) Great, how does that feel? One of the things that that does is it opens up our chest. So not only does it help us to breathe more deeply, we're not breathing shallow, it also makes our bodies appear more open. So often the message we want to give when we're presenting or when we're in a meeting is that we're here, we're open, and we're confident. So a simple switch from this to this can not only tell us internally that we are confident and strong, and does wonderful things for our breathing apparatus, but it appears to other people, then they get the message that we're here, we're confident, and we're open. So now that we've done that, I want us to do some more breathing and I'm going to ask that we take a nice, deep breath in. I'm fighting off a cold so I may start coughing and we'll just keep going. So we're going to take a nice, deep breath in. When we do that we're going to lift our arms over our head in time with our breath. Yeah? And then I'll tell you what to do once we get there. So nice, deep breath in. (group inhaling) Take a little more air. And I want you to do a nice, gentle, happy-sounding sigh out. Ready? One, two, three, go. (group exhaling) Isn't that nice? Let's do another nice, deep breath in. Arms up. (group inhaling) Great, and this one I want you to do a cranky, frustrated sigh. Any of that stuff you're worrying about, the emails, the laundry, the groceries, whatever that is, I want you to go ahead and sigh that out now. One, two, three, go. (group exhaling) Well, that seemed important as well. Let's do one more nice, deep breath in. (group inhaling) Great. A little more air, fill your whole lung capacity, and whatever kind of sigh you need to do, that's what you should do on the count of three. One, two, three, go. (group exhaling) Great. How are you feeling right now? Someone tell me how you feel. [Male in Blue Jacket] Happy. Great. [Male In Blue Jacket] And alert. Happy and alert? Great. You're cured. (group laughing) So breath is a really powerful thing, and sometimes we forget how important it is to just take a few moments to breathe. I always think of it as when I call IT and they tell me to restart my computer. It's almost the same thing, right? I just need to do a restart for myself, and sometimes taking that 20 seconds to just do some deep breathing and some centering of myself can do wonders for the rest of what comes in my day. So sometimes we feel too rushed to take that time just to breathe, but breathing is a really powerful way for us to recenter ourselves and recalibrate, and it also allows us to come in a little bit fresh to whatever the situation is, and kind of leave... Sometimes we come from one meeting right to another meeting, and we're bringing things with us. So doing a little bit of that recentering and recalibration in breath can help to relax us and allow us to be more in control of who and what we're bringing into the room with us. So now that we've done some relaxation, we wanna wake ourselves up. I am an introvert by nature, which means I currently right now am experiencing some stage fright. So these are some great things that we can do. This is an exercise we call shake out, and it allows us to do an exercise that warms up our brains, our bodies, gets blood flowing, gets the air moving, warms up our voices, and it also gives any nervous energy a good place to go. So it allows us to expend it in a healthy, positive way. So we're going to take a nice, deep breath in and then we're going to shake one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and then eight, and then eight, and then eight, and then we're gonna go four, and then two, and then one. If at any point in time you make a mistake, great, nobody cares. No one cares. It's just a silly warm-up game. So if at any point you make a mistake, make the mistake and then just get right back on and keep going. Got it? We're gonna count out loud together. After we have done our eight, four, two, one, we want you to land in a superhero pose, whatever that means to you. Don't overthink it. Nice, deep breath. Count out loud with me. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, one, two, one, two, one, two, one, two, one, one, one, one. Let's see it, superhero poses. Oh, nice. Whoa. All the... I think we're in a group together. I know, we are. We may be... Ava, what would you... Ava, right here, what was your... What's your superhero? What would you call her? Wonder Woman. Yeah, obviously. It was obvious. Yeah, Jared, right here, Jared, who are you? [Man in Blue Jacket] Green Smoothie Man. Yes, I cannot wait to read your comic book. I can't wait to read that comic book. I want you to take some nice, deep breaths into this. Take some nice, deep breaths into this, and don't pretend for my benefit, it doesn't do me any good. I want you to have that inner monologue just of really how powerful and strong you are. It is early in the morning, we want our brains to already be in a place of power, feeling good, feeling strong, confident, and playfulness, right? We're all a little giggly and silly, so we wanna be in a place of being playful. Great, you can let that go. My superhero has bad knees. Yeah. (group laughter) Yep, a lot of them do nowadays. So can someone just raise their hand and tell us how you're feeling right now? Give us a little check-in of how you're feeling physically, mentally, emotionally. Much more awake. Yeah, much more awake. Great. Oh, yes. Alert and ready to find out what's next. Curious. Great! Oh, yay, that's a good place to be in. Yeah. I'm gonna write some of these things down. Awesome. Thank you for trying that. So this is something that we often will encourage people to do. You guys can sit down. I'm just realizing I'm the boss of that. Thank you. So this is something we encourage people to do before they go on stage. So Sammy and I actually, before we came out here, were in the green room and we were doing a shake-out together and making eye contact so that we were connecting, but we were also warming ourselves up and we were being playful together so that we feel connected to each other, but we also feel connected in a really positive, sort of fun, playful way. And shake-out gets to a lot of things really quickly. And our philosophy at Speechless is if you're a presenter, you're a performer, and so some of these things that we're gonna do in this class and all the classes after this are from our backgrounds from being actors, improvisors, comedians, directors, all the different things that the people at Speechless have done over their careers. And some of these things don't make a lot of sense outside of the context of performing, but they're very, very beneficial and they are proven to work. And everybody has their own way of doing it, so if it works for you, great. If it doesn't, even for you at home, we have a bunch of different ways to go about warming yourself up and getting you more prepared. But just know that going on stage, even if that stage is literally sitting in a chair and talking to people in a meeting, you need to be ready. Not unlike maybe getting ready for an athletic event. Does anyone in the room do anything kind of athletic or do any kind of marathon preparation? Anyone? And what do you do before you go and do whatever it is? I warm up. And how do you warm up? I'll do... I do stand-up paddling, which is kind of crazy so it's on the water. Like stand-up comedy and paddling put together? Yes, exactly. So you have to be funny and not fall in the water, but I do moves like I'm on the water outside of the water more aggressively because I don't have the risk of falling in the water. So I sort of do that before, and then I jump on the board. Yeah, so some dynamic stretching, it sounds like. More like movement, dynamic movement. Jumping around, you try to move around the board a lot so it's harder on the board because there's the unpredictability. Alright, well I look forward to your creative life course on whatever that is. (group laughter) And what about you? I stretch before basketball and Jujutsu. So I do a lot of body-weight squats, push-ups, and then I'll also just do stretching. Yeah. Like eight different stretches, and then I feel loose and ready to go. Perfect. And we'll get to more of this and strengthen your stage presence another class, but yeah, warming up is so beneficial and it's so helpful and even if you feel, in the moment, "a little silly" or uncomfortable, we always say wouldn't you rather feel that way maybe for a little bit before you perform than during? So do whatever you have to do to make yourself feel ready.

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.