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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.



I brought my two clients in from Greece to the class as well as my course assistant and all of them including me were BLOWN AWAY! We all had an amazing time! What a program! Tommy was extraordinary! A great program!

Client Testimonial

~Kim Ann Curtain, The Wall Street Coach 



Public Speaking:  I often ask my public speaking classes, “What is the worst that can happen?”  The responses usually range from “forget your place” to “start sweating.”  In my opinion, those things are natural and normal. I say the worst that can happen is that you curl up in a ball under the podium, or throw a chair… After watching this video, I think I may change my mind…



The PIT Master Consulting Program

Complete On-Going Immersion to Develop Master Instincts 

“Creativity is thinking up new things.  Innovation is doing new things.”

~Theodore Levitt


The PIT Master Consulting Program turns the skills taught in our workshops into instincts your employees can call upon at will.  Based on your specific needs, our expert consultants will design an immersion program that creates master communicators, speakers, innovators, and an unbeatable team.  The Master Program consists of no less than 8 sessions that cover everything offered in The PIT’s core workshops and more.  This is a commitment only suggested for teams who want to play at the top of their game.



Mar.13-Apr.3 Improv Your Public Speaking

Teacher-Taren SterryIn this fun and supportive class, students will learn how to improve their public speaking skills and gain confidence by applying improv techniques in public speaking situations. In a safe yet challenging environment, students will be led through group games and individual exercises that will help them be more comfortable in front of a crowd and give them the skills to relax in the midst of “performing.” Focus will be on breath, diction, movement, relaxation and confidence while remaining present. Want to be more savvy when going through a Power Point Presentation for the Board? Want to learn to project your voice to a crowd of 250? This class will address each student’s specific needs and give them the opportunity to work on current projects.



The Custom Built Program

Mix and Match to Create a One of a Kind Experience

“The principle mark of genius is not

perfection, but originality, the opening of new frontiers.”

~Arthur Koestler


Your team is unique, so your professional development program should be as well.  You may have a mix of speakers, writers, idea generators and facilitators who all have individual needs.  This is a special program, designed in collaboration with you and one of our Program Specialists, to accommodate the specific needs of your organization.   The curriculum, focus, and length of time are determined by you and our experts to tailor a one of a kind experience that includes the best from all of our programs.



2011 Corporate Postcard - 2012 is on the way!



The PIT’s Corporate Workshops Video



The Number One Fear Workshop

Public Speaking and Presentation Skills 

“People’s number one fear is public speaking.  Death is number two…If you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

~Jerry Seinfeld


Above poverty and even death, public speaking is ranked as the number one fear of most people.  We are conditioned to constantly be concerned with how we appear and what people think of us, and we often find ourselves in situations where we must speak in front of an audience.  Whether your team uses speaking opportunities to generate business, deliver presentations, pitch an idea, or earn a living through speaking, this workshop will give them the strength to tackle the world’s number one most crippling fear.  Learn how to think quickly on your feet, answer questions on the fly, and speak with confidence and poise.


The Peoples Improv Theater uses the techniques, exercises, and games of the improv performer to heighten the skills of attorneys.  The course focuses on the attorney as a performer, the power of verbal and non-verbal communication, the ability to deal with the unexpected, listen actively, communicate effectively, and speak in public under stress with extreme confidence. 


Is the course accredited?

Yes!  Improv(ed) Legal Skills is a 3-Credit New York State approved Continuing Legal Education course, complete with written materials that detail a brief history of improv, the parallel between improv skills and attorney skills, and take-away group and solo exercises.


What is it like?

Our class is a safe, team environment where participants are lead as a group through simple improv warm-ups, exercises, and games that highlight skills that are essential to performers and attorneys alike.  After each exercise, the group engages in a dialogue that helps connect the skill to the specific reality of the participating attorneys.

Improv(ed) Legal Skills breaks the mold of traditional lecture/power-point/note-taking CLE, and re-introduces attorneys to a learning style that is interactive, entertaining, and fun.  We believe that by challenging the traditional-style of learning, our participants retain more of the information and can easily access the lessons for use in practice.


Who is it for?

IMPROV CLE is taught in a transitional, live-classroom format, and is valuable for both newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

Newly Admitted Attorneys – IMPROV CLE offers an arena to practice trial skills, negotiation techniques, and their individualized team building efforts without the fear of a client’s life, liberty or money at risk.

Experienced Attorneys – IMPROV CLE is an opportunity for experienced lawyers to exercise and sharpen their skills to give them an edge over the competition while improving innovative leadership skills.

Areas of Law –Each skill set has its own meaning and application to different areas of law.  Non-verbal communication skills can serve both the trial attorney and the negotiator.  Persuasion techniques are fundamental in both contract drafting and client interactions. The unique value found in our CLE is the interactivity and group dialogue dynamic.  This allows for a platform of self-directed learning where we explore and strengthen the specific skill, and then discuss how we can and will implement the skill into our specific area of law. 

While this course is open and available to all areas of law, some of the areas of advancement for former students are litigation, negotiation, deposition, persuasive writing, contract, and client management.  Some of the highlights of our course focus on presentation, public speaking, verbal and non-verbal communication, listening, trust, and frustration management.

Where is it taught?

We can teach the CLE in Manhattan either at our theater located at 123 E. 24th Street, or at our training facility Simple Studios at 134 West 29th Street. If you book us to teach your firm, we can accommodate for on site training. 

Improv(ed) Legal Skills accommodates any group over 6 people, however we also conduct individual registration ongoing group classes at our learning facilities year round.


Who teaches Improv(ed) Legal Skills?

Improv(ed) Legal Skills is taught by Tommy Galan, Director of Corporate Programming at The Peoples Improv Theater.  Tommy is a performer with over 20 years of experience, as well as an attorney in good standing with the New York State Bar Association.  After a decade of practicing law, Tommy returned full-time to his passion for performance and sharing the benefits of improvisation.  Tommy has successfully handled over 3000 legal cases and maintains an undefeated appellate record.  He is also an award-winning performer whose work has been featured at the New York Comedy Festival sponsored by Comedy Central, The Chicago SketchFest, The Toronto Sketch Festival, Los Angeles Comedy Festival, and Montreal Sketch Comedy Festival.   He performs regularly in New York City.


How much does it cost?

For information regarding individual cost, group rates, and a copy of our financial aid policy, please send an e-mail to


How can I schedule a CLE for my firm?

If you are interested in scheduling a CLE workshop for your firm, feel free to contact Tommy Galan, Director of Corporate Programming at




"Improv Your Work" and The PIT

With millions of blogs, and billions of internet sources, I suppose the first blog post for Improv Your Work should explain, at least in part, why this blog exists and who is its intended reader.

What is “Improv Your Work”?

“Improv Your Work” is a branch of the “Improv Your Life” philosophy of The Peoples Improv Theater in NYC, where we believe that the experience of life, relationships, and even the workplace can be improved through the study and application of the principles of improvisation. 


What is The Peoples Improv Theater?

The Peoples Improv Theater (The PIT) is a New York City based community that serves its members (affectionately known as PITizens), by focusing on three elements: education centered on the craft of improvisation, a theater that regularly presents original comedy, and a corporate training program that offers team building, leadership, professional development, and continuing legal education (CLE).


Who is the “Improv Your Work” blog for?

This blog is a resource to share information with both post-workshop participants and anyone interested in learning more about how to apply improv principles to improve the quality of their experience in the workplace, in relationships and in life.  “Improv Your Work” will feature blogs and guest blogs from non-performer professionals who have used improv to support them at work, as well as insight from improv instructors that detail improv as a life-skill. 

If you are a former student of The PIT, this site is your take-away with information on how to continue to use improv in practice.  If you haven’t participated in The PIT program, this site will serve as a window into our world and offer a glimpse into a practice that can both Improv Your Work and Improv Your Life!