5 Improvisation Exercises to Make You Stronger In The Spotlight


When you have taken the time to rehearse your material, you set yourself up for success. But what about the moments when you have to be in the spotlight and you do not have an opportunity to prepare? Improvisation is a skill that you are able to strengthen over time. Much like everything we do, the more we practice improvisation, the better we will be. Improv is like any skill where if we do not practice it regularly we can quickly become rusty.

Every day as we move through our daily activities we are improvising without even realizing that we are. Each time you answer the phone, you are essentially starting an improvisation game where you're actively listening and responding appropriately.

Use these 5 improvisation activities to improve your mind to mouth function and shake off your nervousness from being thrown on stage.


1. My Friend’s Fictional Life

Present yourself in front of an audience. In this activity, introduce a friend to the audience, however, instead of introducing them in the accurately, be creative and make up a fictional life for them.

An example of this might look something like, "Hi this is Sarah Shoelace, and what many people don't know about Sarah is that she moonlights as a mixologist at an underground bar on the Upper East Side of New York City." And continue to talk about her life, avoiding as much factual information as possible.


2. Oink Substitution

We commonly rush when we are speaking resulting in our messages being missed or worse, flubbing our words and bring embarrassment upon ourselves. When speaking publically it is critical to our delivery that our dialog is annunciated and communicated clearly.

In this activity, share a story with your audience and allocate one word that you have to replace with the word ‘oink’. You can also have fun with this substitution word and essentially make it anything you want such as "woof" or "fart."

What you verbalize would sound something like, “Bob and oink went to the movies and oink bought some sour patch watermelon slices and a popcorn.” Here, the word "I" was replaced with the word "oink." 

This activity challenges your mind, slows down the delivery of your presentation -- and it’s pretty funny for the audience, too.


3. Academy Award Winning Lies

Share with your audience three true facts about yourself and one lie.

The audience then tries to guess which of the four facts was a lie.

If your audience is able to guess your lie correctly too easily, find out from them what it is about your performance that is giving it away? Sometimes when we lie we look at the ground or put.periods.between.ever.word.we.say. We do it unknowingly but making your storytelling more believable you will be able to tap into your audience's emotions easier.


4. That's All Folks!

Predetermine the final line of a story. Then improvise telling a story and conclude your story with the phrase selected before you began.

For example, it could be a final line like, "Diamonds really are a girl's best friend." Then you tell a story and finish it with that line.

So it's, "A girl and her boyfriend traveled all the way to Paris. They went on romantic walks and quickly fell in love. At the end of their trip, her boyfriend knelt in front of the London Bridge and asked her if she would marry him. She replied, YES! Wow -- diamonds really are a girl's best friend."

Being captivating on stage and being a great public speaker is about being a great storyteller. Thus, practicing how to creatively think up stories on the spot will make you a better public speaker.


5. Get It, Kid?

This activity will help you to be able to convey your business idea as simply as possible. Since children have far less experience in the real world, they need ideas simplified for them. Avoid using fancy-sounding buzzwords and extra fluffy sentences that may confuse your juvenile audience. By effectively explaining your material to a child, you may even find that you are able to simplify your pitch or end up with a more impactful way to communicate something that has more meaning.