Meisam is our past previous president. A lot of people remember his journey with the Munich Business Speakers. One member recalls “I was able to observe how, over time and practice, a timid young man gained confidence and developed charismatic stage presence.” Meisam continued his journey to this day with us. Today, he tells us about his major breakthrough as well as the complementary effects of improtheater on public speaking.
Meisam, how did your journey start ?
It started around 5 years ago. I was so scared to talk in front of people. Then I told myself that I have to finally deal with this issue. I searched on the web “how to get better in public speaking ” and I found Toastmaster in one of the results. I went further and visited a club. Later on I got in contact with an ex member of the Munich Business Speakers. She gave me the contact details, I visited one of the meetings and then decided to join.
How did it come that you later got interested in impro-theater as well?
The element of being spontaneous was something that I was missing in Toastmaster. Surely we have the table topic section, but it was not enough for me to practice spontaneity on stage. At the same time I had some personal issues going on. My therapist adviced me try impro theatre. The idea to finally overcome my fears greatly motivated me to go to my first impro workshop and I loved it.
As our Immediate Past President you already implemented impro-theater ideas in our meetings. Can you tell us about some of them and the effect it had on both members and guests?
Sometimes I missed the atmosphere and connection we have in our live meetings online. So I decided to bring in some games that we do in improv. I always got positive feedback both from guests and members when initiating the exercises. Some guests even told me for them it was a first time experience which they didn´t encounter in any other club.
Best Practice for Anxiety Management
I know that you once asked us to do something impro-like in one online meeting and I almost “panicked”. Can you give some advice how to overcome this initial fear of improvising?
Giving advice is something that a Guru does 🙂
From my own experience the root of this “panic” stems from being afraid of making a mistake. What I learnt with improv is that our judgement is what makes a mistake a mistake. If you do something and you think ” Oh I did a mistake, and now people are judging me” , this thought is actually the source of you feeling judged. In reality, people around you don´t realize that you made a mistake. In the context of publics speaking or improv, they think that it is another way of acting. And even if it was a mistake, e.x. you forget your line, most people won´t mind. When one is able to realize this, the panic just disappears, poof. Of course, it is easier said than done, because we are not used to think like that. It needs Practice and Practice and Practice to reach that point.
When it comes to anxiety management for prepared speeches, what would you suggest as some first steps to feel more comfortable on stage?
My personal experience is that body posture plays a major role. Nowadays my routine before I go on stage is as follows: I go somewhere quiet, open my arms, make myself big and let my brain think “hey, I am that big”. Then I go to the stage and I have this, what I call “Bigness” with me. On stage, I use my body posture a lot. I walk and move, because I believe it helps to come out of ones restricting mind. If you apply this idea you may experience same results as I do and you feel free, talk free and let your emotions flow free during your speech.
Improv games for online meetings
We are now faced with the challenge of hybrid or even online only meetings and how to connect despite the physical distance. We already discussed some improv-techniques you used at some of our meetings. Are there further, new ideas you can share with us?
Yes, there is one game especially suited for online meetings, called “expert interview”. It goes as follows:
- Choose two people, every one else has to turn off their camera
- The audience gives suggestions about a interview-topic
- The interviewer asks questions about the proposed subject which the interviewee answers
Key is to choose a funny subject, e.x. the interviewee is expert in elephantology or in sleepwalking. After both finished the interview (4-5 minutes) a new pair can be choosen.
For hybrid meetings, things get more complicated. I do not know yet which games can be used there.