by Engager Jen Glantz
The truth is, none of us are ever fully prepared for anything that we do. We can spend hours, days, even months practicing for something and still feel as though we aren’t ready. One of the greatest lessons learned in improv is that all you need to do, sometimes, to succeed and have fun, is just simply show-up.
While I agree that is a daring and very bold first step, the real trick to making it through something we might be scared, at first, to do, starts way before we enter the room to give a presentation, to take an improv class, or to just have a sticky conversation with say our boss. It starts with the self-talk, or pep talk, we give ourselves beforehand.
I remember a few years ago, I was about to walk into a job interview and felt so nervous that I could feel my body tell me, through jitters and stress-sweat, that it wasn’t feeling confident about what was going to happen. So I let my mind listen to my body and all of a sudden I told myself that I wasn’t good enough for the job I was interviewing and the person interviewing me would notice that instantly. I practically stuck my resume in the trash and walked out at that point, but before I could make that motion, they called me to begin. I didn’t do well on that interview and I didn’t get the job. Looking back now, it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough work experience or knowledge, it was because I didn’t walk-the-walk, or talk-the-self talk beforehand.
This happens a lot. We show up to an Improv class, an interview, or just to a new experience that scares us more than anything else, and we talk ourselves out of it. Our body language adapts and before we know it, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
After that memorable (for not a good reason) job interview was over, I promised myself that before I did anything I wasn’t feeling confident about again, that I would trick myself into thinking that I was. That I would arrive early, find a quiet space where I could be alone, and positive pep-talk myself into believing, really and truly believing, that what I was about to experience was something I was worthy of and something I would enjoy.
I use this method every single time it’s my turn to start an Improv scene or even teach an Improv class. I hope you’ll try it too.