You may experience anxiety when encountering a new technology, and improv can be a great option to help you feel comfortable enough to at least try it out.
Now I’m not suggesting that your fear can be solved by taking an improv class, but if you’ll stay with me here, I’ll explain how improv can help you face a fear (including a fear of technology).
The Secret to Improv Success: Throwing Expectations Out the Window
My first time playing golf was during a golf tournament through work. I remember feeling nervous about my abilities when one of my co-workers gave me some great advice:
“When you putt, keep your eye on the ball. Don’t worry about anything other than hitting the ball.”
I really surprised myself that day. I was pretty darn good (almost winning the longest putt award)! And I had fun (well, at least for the first 9 holes, it was over it on the final 9).
Other than my coworker’s advice, it really helped that I didn’t bring any expectations about how good – or bad – I would be at golf. That attitude allowed me to focus on just playing the game and having fun.
This is the same attitude that a great improv actor has. If you’re not familiar with improv, a group of actors are given a set of seemingly unrelated ideas and they have to create a story out of those ideas (here’s an example). The actors don’t know what they scene will be (it’s normally something the audience screams out to them) so there’s no time to prepare.
In improv, there can’t be any expectations about how you the scene will unfold. You literally just have to go with what your fellow actors throw out and stay present so that you can respond appropriately.
When you remove your expectations, you can have fun learning a new technology.
The Two Rules of Improv That Will Help You Overcome Your Fear of Technology
When you’re just learning a new piece of technology, improv can be challenging to incorporate because you already feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. Keep in mind these two rules of Improv:
At least start with an open-mind. In improv, the actors never say no to the plot they’re given. For you, it’s about saying YES to learning that new piece of technology. Say YES and take the first baby step, which can be as simple as opening the software or downloading the app.
Watch this Talks at Google with Tina Fey as she demonstrates the concept of saying YES (from 2:47 to 5:30 of video).
One thing I always do when I download software or apps is to play around with its settings and preferences. For instance, when I downloaded Pocket Casts (a podcast manager app for Android and iOS), I noticed there was an option to have dark or light background. I tried out both and discovered that visually I liked the dark theme better:
Saying yes and taking the first baby step can do a lot for your confidence.
How much of your apprehension to learn a new technology is because you don’t want to look stupid in front of others? Think about when you were a kid outside playing. You weren’t afraid of what others think…you were too busy having fun!
In improv, the actors of course want the audience to have fun, but they are actually staying in the moment and doing their part to keep the story moving along. They are thinking about exploring the scene and are open to the possibility to where the story can go.
When you’re playing with a new technology, don’t expect to know the answer. When you are okay with not knowing and are open to playing, you’ll find that technology is a lot less intimidating.
Something that helps me play with technology is the phrase Control Z. If you’re not familiar, that's the shortcut to UNDO the last action performed on your Windows computer (Command Z on a Mac). Because I know of this shortcut, I feel comfortable playing around and experimenting because I figure I can probably fix an unintended action by pressing CTRL Z on my computer.
Alert: CTRL Z is one of many shortcuts and gestures I provide in my free guide. Click here to download.
Improv Your Way Through Tech
What is one technology you’re dying to learn and what is the first baby step you can take?