Linda MacGillivray hosts improv workshops to equip people in Kelowna with the tools they need to tackle social anxiety and excel at public speaking. (Caitlin Clow - Kelowna Capital News)

Kelowna woman teaches improv classes to tackle social anxiety

Linda MacGillivray hosts improv workshops to equip people with the tools to excel at public speaking

Linda MacGillivray is equipping people in Kelowna with the tools they need to tackle public speaking, especially those who may suffer from social anxiety.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but improvisational acting is the No. 1 trick up her sleeve. She said teaching individuals the tools they need to think quickly on their feet while learning to feel safe in their own skin is the best way to tackle those anxious feelings.

MacGillivray has studied acting in Kelowna, Kamloops and Calgary, she has attended a number of intensive workshops in Vancouver and she uses the skills learned there, combined with her knowledge of hypnotherapy to start a different venture: Speakeasy Improv.

She hosts workshops that use improv games and exercises to practice public speaking and teach the skills necessary to be more confident while sharing.

“I’ve worked with all kinds of people,” she said from her home office in Rutland. “I have worked with high school students, university students, bankers, real estate agents, entrepreneurs, even business people who are just wanting to improve their presentation skills.”

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Breaking away the barriers people build throughout their lives is the hardest part before people really shine, MacGillivray said.

“I think when individuals have lost their ability to play they may also lose their ability to speak comfortably about what they want,” she said.

For instance, she continued, if someone feels they are not being recognized for their work or projects in the office, being comfortable enough to come forward to management and explaining what they are feeling without the fear of being “canned” is difficult.

“That’s the fear that people have,” she said. “Loss of security or loss of employment, so often times people just say nothing and then they’re saying, ‘gee whiz, I really don’t like it here,’”

“Being comfortable in sharing your voice, especially when you’re feeling something is not right, is important.”

To conquer this, MacGillivray said it is beneficial to imagine how you will approach a situation and allow yourself the opportunity to imagine what you will say and how you will respond to feedback while maintaining a positive outcome. She calls this future pacing.

“Chances are, you will be more successful than going in and doing a cold run with a situation,” she said. “The nervous system doesn’t know the difference between truth or fallacy, if you want to see a positive outcome, just rehearse it in your mind.”

Improv, she said, teaches just that.

MacGillivray is looking forward to holding more improv workshops and anyone who is interested in arranging a private or group program can contact her at 250-317-1189.


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