In the article Success requires stepping outside your comfort zone, Gladys Edmunds relates how important it is to stretch yourself and broaden your experience into unfamiliar territory in order to succeed. Her example–taking a public speaking class–is one that a lot of people can relate to: it’s been said that more people are afraid of public speaking are afraid of death! She says that not only did she master a new skill, but she developed the confidence to stretch and grow again and again.
If public speaking experience is what you need, you could try Toastmasters, where people practice both prepared and impromptu speeches in front of a small group. However, I’ve observed that another venue has helped a lot of people, and may be more entertaining to boot: comedy.
Sketch and improv comedy classes are widely available in cities, and offer many of the same benefits: practice speaking, confidence in front of an audience, and preparing concise presentations (only funnier!).
Additionally, one participant mentioned that he believe improv comedy has made him a better listener. Many people, in the course of a conversation, become so focused on what they plan to say next that they stop listening to the speaker. Improv helps develop good listening habits so that you can better respond to the speaker and acknowledge his or her thoughts and ideas.
One place where being a good, responsive listener can really come in handy? Job interviews. Sure, you’ve read the list of 50, 100, or even 500 most-frequently asked interview questions. You’ve prepared your answers to, “What is the area in which you are weakest?” and “Tell me about a challenge at your last job that did not go well.” No matter how prepared you are, job interviews are bound to throw you a curveball: the ultimate high stakes improv!
Since the business world has taken an interest in improv and sketch comedy, you may find that such classes and groups are also a great place for casual, low-pressure networking.
With benefits like these, comedy is a great way to succeed:
- Practice speaking in front of an audience
- Improved writing skills (sketch comedy)
- Improved listening skills (improv)
- Personal growth and confidence
If comedy is one of your interests, this might be a compelling and engaging way to pick up practical skills.