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Improvising and Presenting

Sometimes, during my more vain moments, I daydream about giving some big public performance, like a super emotional speech in front of thousands. Or I'm playing King Richard III, in some giant theatre. Or I'm the amazingly good sounding (and looking) singer at the local karaoke place. Daydreaming is great.

When I'm NOT daydreaming though, I'm nervously worrying about the client presentation I have to give to the giant audience of 5 whole people. For you see, I am an introvert (yes, there are indeed introverts in an MBA program). I strenuously avoided public speaking when I was younger. And these days, while I'm okay once I get in front of a crowd, I'm still incredibly anxious in the moments before any presentation. And I have trouble being quick on my feet and with responding to unexpected questions.

So I was pretty excited when the Carlson Marketing Network (CMN), one of our student organizations led by fellow MBA student Catherine Wang, offered a free improv workshop and show for us MBA-ers at Huge Theatre. The workshop would be a chance for me to confront those anxiety demons in a structured manner and in a safe environment. Having already embarrassed myself in front of my classmates plenty of times, I wasn't really worried about what this workshop was going to do to my reputation.

My fellow MBA-ers, with our workshop instructors, MJ and Joe, in the front.

Which is a good thing, for I found myself neighing like a horse and dancing like a ballerina. I shouted ZAP, ZOOP, and ZIP while gesturing crazily. We also played the "Yes Game," where we had to respond and build upon a random statement from another participant. And finally, we created a story with a partner, alternatively providing one word at a time. All of these exercises were designed to break down our social inhibitions. More importantly, the exercises made us listen to our classmates, to accept their ideas, and to work off them.

I, surprisingly, really enjoyed it. It was even educational, as I think that it taught a few lessons about working with others in business. Now, did it cure my presentation anxiety? Probably not. That's a bit ambitious for one workshop. But I do feel a LITTLE more comfortable with presenting. I had fun. And I was really proud of my neighing. Not half-bad for an hour's worth of work.

Fellow first-years Catherine Wang, the newly elected president of the Carlson Marketing Network, and Zach Nielsen, a board member of the Network. Don't worry. They don't always look like this.

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