successI felt dread when I saw the scheduled speaker at Toastmasters this week. Her face was puffy with her hand and a wad of tissues smashed to her face. When she spoke, her voice was raspy, and she sounded like the star of a cold-and-flue season commercial.

I felt dread because as the “back-up speaker”, I would now have to jump in and give a 5 – 7 minute speech.  The Toastmaster turned to me and asked if I had my pocket speech ready (the one a good “Toastmaster” always has in her back pocket in case there is an emergency and you need to save the day). Ahhgg, no I didn’t!

“Give me a couple of minutes,” I said.

When I was called to the lectern, I gave a speech called, “Improv Your Life!”  I gave a speech on how I was able to do what I was doing and shared what I know about Improv skills.

  1. Saying “Yes and” opens up new opportunities, to positively accept challenges and offer my unique gifts. (Saying “No” offers security and sameness).
  2. An audience enjoys stories and a speaker who connects with them (Improv teaches how to tune into others, not be stopped by your own fear)
  3. The audience doesn’t require perfection to be engaged (Expressing passion and enthusiasm counts for more than perfect organization).
  4. Connecting with passion and your love of a topic translates as confidence (even when you don’t feel it).
  5. Improv is not about comedy—it’s about reacting to life’s challenges and committing to one decision at a time.

Toastmasters has been a great training ground for me in that I get to build on using my Improv skills to persuade, teach and motivate others. If you want more information about a meeting near you, go to http://www.toastmasters.org/

If you want to be more confident in responding to what life throws at you, sign up for Improv training. Improv has gotten so much attention as a powerful tool, that you can find a trainer in most cities.  Check out the resource page on my website for more information.  If you use MeetUp.Com to find events, mine are listed at Improv Your Life! or check my website for listings. Stay tuned for more blogs on challenges and opportunities in my  “Improv(ed)” life.

Jane Wolfe is an artist and an improviser guiding individuals and groups to find their own unique gifts and express their unique talents and wisdom. Life is not scripted. We live with the unplanned and unexpected. Jane discovered the art of improvisation as a metaphor for life. It teaches individuals how to react and respond to life’s opportunities and challenges in a way that invokes the best of their creativity, innovation, communication, teamwork and leadership.