Previously, I shared the idea that presenting/speaking is similar to tires in that both can become over-inflated or under-inflated, frequently causing negative results. I view over-inflation as having a misguided attitude. Examples of this attitude include K.I.S.S. and forgetting the value of one. Today’s example of over-inflation is succumbing to the improv myth.
Most of us have seen improv on TV or in a club, or even participated ourselves. Improv can be amazing and unpredictably funny. During good improv, we marvel at the quick wit of those participating, eager to discover where the scene will go. But bad improv falls flat with no connection or energy. We sit uncomfortably, partly sympathetic to and partly embarrassed for the performers as we watch them struggle.
I would suggest that most people who bomb at improv are ill-prepared. The improv myth falsely believes that improv is only about improvisation. But folks who are good at improv practice and are well-versed. They regularly practice improv games and research literature, music, theater, movies, TV, history, current events, etc. They have a plethora of tools in their tool belt for whatever scenario.
Presenters and speakers can fall for the improv myth in one of two ways. One, we put all our hope in the material/product, thinking it should sell itself, but have little understanding beyond the material/product. Or, two, we don’t practice, thinking “I can wing it,” and fall flat as we stumble our way through our presentation. In both scenarios, we're more likely to dilute the impact of our message due to our lack of preparation. Mark Twain said, “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” He was well-versed and quick-witted!
Life can certainly bring unexpected circumstances that force us to wing it on occasion. But let us recommit to the habit of careful thought and skillful practice before we speak/present, so we may cultivate the optimal impact of what we share.
Next, we will consider misguided actions, aka under-inflation: Movement is good, unless it’s not.
About the Author
Shawn Ritchey is an educator and storyteller who finds great joy in breathing life into each presentation in which he plays a part. The imagery of breathing life is significant as he spent nearly three decades in emergency services as an EMT. Additionally, Shawn spent over 15 years in the wellness industry as a licensed massage therapist, and on individual projects as a safety and health consultant.
As an educator, Shawn specializes in safety and wellness subjects where he blends his EMT and massage therapy experience with his professional theater background to provide energized education you’ll remember. As a corporate storyteller, Shawn can partner with your organization to either reinforce important messages you already have, or provide presentations that will both equip and inspire. As an inspirational storyteller, Shawn offers seasonal or theme-based monologues that will entertain and even encourage viewers to action.
Shawn’s commitment, passion and skill set equip and inspire others to remember what they have learned so a life — theirs or someone else’s — can be improved, made well or kept safe. Contact Shawn directly at (206) 355-9926
Connect with Shawn