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Public Speaking ~Taren Sterry

I love teaching public speaking. I love it when students come into the classroom with different challenges and we get to work on them one by one and yet learn from each other. The best thing about being a teacher is leaving a class and having the feeling that I’ve actually been able to help someone today because of my own past experiences with public speaking. Hopefully, that makes us both better people and speakers, for tomorrow.


Everyone focuses on the fear around public speaking. I try to focus on the fun. We can be afraid of lots of things in life: relationships, finances, risk, change. But if we approach these things from a curious, rather than a trepidatious standpoint, we open some room for new experiences and then perhaps, for some success. For instance, on first date, if we go into it expecting Jeremy to complement us, ask us about our careers and pay for our dinner, and he doesn’t do any of those things, we might consider this a “failure” and complain about this to our friends. Or, we can consider what we learned from the situation. What did we complement Jeremy on? What did we learn about his career? Why did we expect him to pay? Maybe Jeremy is broke, afterall. (Or a third wave feminist trying to honor you?) Prolly not, but maybe!


The challenge we’re dealing with here is expectation. Expectation is a killer in public speaking. When we expect things to go a certain way and they don’t, we get disappointed and thrown off our game. The laptop runs out of juice, people stare at you weird, your boss shows up unexpectedly, no one asks questions at the Q&A portion, you sweat, you shake, you suddenly remember when Jennifer Hurnblad said in 7th grade that it looked like you peed your pants in front of everyone and you almost died of humiliation. Why did you just think of that right now? What are you supposed to be doing? Oh my god, you are talking about the budget right now and while you were thinking about Jennifer Hurnblad and have no idea what you been talking about for the last…10 minutes??!!


In Improv Your Public Speaking we focus on staying in the moment, connecting with your audience, remaining present and having fun. We bring back up handouts to prepare for faulty laptops, we practice thinking quickly on our feet so that we can go off script and then get quickly back on to stay on track, we work on what to do whether you have a raucous crowd or quiet audience, and finally, we figure out how to all of this while having FUN.


If you struggle with any public speaking challenges, take the class!! See you at the PIT!!

TAREN STERRY is a writer and performer in NYC. Her current play, 180 Days, is in its fourth extended sold out run at Stage Left Studio. Taren performed improv at the PIT for three years with Fancy Dragon and Tomahawk! Taren is a 2008 Manhattan Monologue Slam Winner and wrote, produced and starred in the totally hilarious “Totes Hilare.” In 2009, Taren was a winning model on Bravo’s The Fashion Show (long story). Taren can be seen every month performing original material at Stage Left Studio and teaches improv at the The PIT.