Improving through Improv!

The thought of speaking in front of a group of people is terrifying for many of us, but it is a reality that most will eventually have to face. Some people minimize their fear by picturing an audience in their underwear, others through breathing exercises, and many more by rehearsing speeches in their bathroom mirrors. Fortunately for those of you whose palms have been sweating since the beginning of this paragraph, Harbourfront Centre’s Courses & Workshops programme has teamed up with Extant Jester’s Lauren Spring to offer you a better solution: Improv for Public Speaking.

Improvisation is used in many ways across the arts and sciences, but most people know it as a form of theatre made famous by Second City, the Groundlings, and the many talented comedians who moved from those companies to NBC’s Saturday Night Live. But contrary to popular belief, improvisation doesn’t have to be funny or interesting or entertaining (although it frequently is); it doesn’t have to be “good.” Improv works on the principle of “Yes, and…” whereby one person in a game or scene suggests something and the other person accepts the suggestion and builds on it. It is all about working as a team and making it up as you go along.

Improv may sound just as frightening as speaking in public, but Lauren, a professional actor, improviser, and experienced educator, is adept at creating a safe and comfortable environment. As Antonia, an alumnus of the spring session, said, “Lauren is an exceptionally gifted teacher. During the course, she always made everyone feel at home.” Through a series of games and exercises, Lauren empowered the group to overcome their fears and to speak up. Added Antonia, “Lauren’s Improv class was an unforgettable experience…and it was more than just fun. I can say it helped me in my work and outside work life immensely in very practical ways.”

Many of the spring students will be returning this fall, including Frances, who told us that the class was “a life changer.” We can’t wait to welcome Lauren, Antonia, and Frances back and to meet all of our future fantastic public speakers!

If you start shaking like a leaf whenever you’re surrounded by a crowd, we have the solution! Register now — only three spots remaining.

Improv for Public Speaking, part of Courses & Workshops, runs on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8:30pm September 19—October 31 (no class the week of October 15-19), $180. To register or for more information, click here or call 416.973.4093.