John Cooper of Comedysportz
I’m not someone who has a ‘bucket list’ as such. But I am a great believer of putting yourself outside your comfort zone, especially if it helps further your ambitions.
Public speaking is one the areas I’d love to improve in. I’ve done a few bits and pieces for Manchester Girl Geeks but would like to build the confidence to give longer talks and workshops.
This week, I stretched myself by signing up (and showing up) to John Cooper’s ‘Present Yourself’ workshop in Manchester.
John is a stand-up comedian, writer, illustrator and part of the Comedysportz line-up of talent.
I met him a few weeks ago at Bliss Group‘s ‘Laugh Your Head Off’ workshop where I enjoyed a brief comedy writing exercise he shared with us.
I had so much fun with that I decided to brush up on my presentation skills with John’s public speaking workshop which builds confidence by using a variety of games and activities.
It was great to join a mixed group of men and women of all ages, backgrounds and reasons for wanting to develop their public speaking skills and confidence.
Here’s a few things that we tried out at the workshop.
Fast action hand clapping game done in pairs. The rules are very simply, when your gestures match you high five your partner. Sounds simple right? Try doing this at high speed with someone you’ve not met before – a great ice-breaker high energy and lots of fun!
There are also more advanced variations of the game with multiple players, but to see what we did at the workshop you only need to watch up 1m 14s – after that it goes into some more complicated options!
Speak for a minute
Each of us were invited on stage to talk for a one minute on a subject of our choice. Because of the small group (15 of us) and John’s use of games and activities as a warm up, everyone felt comfortable (enough) to get up on stage and have a go.
The interesting thing about ‘speak for a minute’ was that our performances weren’t timed. Without this discipline most of us performed for two to three minutes, something than John re-assured us was quite natural.
The spontaneity of the exercise generated a wide range of topics, ranging from grumpy bus drivers, lawn mowing techniques, beauty treatments, the futility of bacon and long-distance relationships.
I really relished the opportunity to get up on stage to try out my own material and even got some laughs which was really thrilling. Who knew my brother’s daily porridge ritual would go down so well?
OK, so what next?
1. Go to another one of John’s ‘Present Yourself’ workshops, each one is a bit different so it would be a great way to develop my skills and confidence.
2. Consider signing up for the more in-depth courses offered by Comedysportz – now just decide between improv and stand-up…
Become comfortable with being uncomfortable
This is mantra that was repeated by the guy who used to run the circuits class at my gym. I started off hating this phrase but it helped to numb the pain of squats an star jumps and I slowly bought into it.
Here are some things I’ve done in the past year which encroached on my comfort zone:
And here’s my list of ambitions from January – it’s definitely in need of a review!