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How Moms Are Not Only the Queens of Comedy but Also Improv

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I got asked to lead a round-table discussion for the Boulder Chamber’s PR & Social Media Event on Friday. There were some social media rock stars who presented including Andrew Hyde of TechStars, Ari Newman of FiltrBox and Mile High Mama Holly Hamann from The Blog Frog.

And then there was me.

Though I did shower for the occasion, which should count for something.

My topic was “How to pitch a blogger,” with the intent to teach businesses and publicists how to approach bloggers for potential coverage. I was asked to present in two different sessions and was under the impression that I was supposed to speak on, well, how to pitch a blogger.

Until my first panel began.

I had everyone go around and tell me what they hoped to get out of my class. Here’s a little hint: their responses were not about pitching bloggers. Most of them wanted to know how to start a blog for their business and to learn the basics of social media.

I did not prepare a 50-minute class on how to start a blog or the basics of social media.

Nor did I bother to bring my laptop because I had prepared some nifty handouts of some great pitches I had received from various publicists. Because, if you will remember, that is what I was asked to speak about.

So, what did I do?

1) I sweated.
2) I swiped borrowed someone’s laptop during both sessions.
3) I improvised my entire presentation during the first presentation.
4) I thanked the good Lord that I am a mom.

In the past, I may have not been so quick on my feet but motherhood has prepared me to roll with the punches and adapt to every new situation.

Some examples:

I believed that my children would never be *those* kids who throw public tantrums. I was wrong. Improvisation: I pretend not to know them when this happens.

I assumed that bath time was instituted to clean the children. I never dreamed they would ever defecate in that very cleansing bathwater. Improvisation: I have my husband hose them off in the shower while I pretend not to know them.

When I had children, I thought I would someday get some sleep. I was wrong. Improvisation: I do not sleep, all the while pretending I do not know them.

My validation that I had pulled off my little improv routine was at the end of the event when the organizers thanked each of the presenters. The people at my table clapped and hollered louder for me than anyone else. Of course, they may have only seemed louder because they were sitting next to me and were yelling directly into my ear.

Just to be safe if I am ever asked to present again, I will be sure to bring a plan and a back-up plan.

And a Zoloft or two to dissipate any improvisation-induced ulcers.

Has motherhood taught you to improvise? What aspects of motherhood were different than what you expected?

Photo credit: Holly Hamann

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  • comment avatar Kari May 26, 2009

    Motherhood IS all about improvisation. My behavior expectations have changed. I thought my kids would NEVER act out because I was a good mom.

    Yeah, right!

  • comment avatar Kari May 26, 2009

    P.S. I don’t know what I wold have done at that class. Likely not done improv!

  • comment avatar Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts May 26, 2009

    Good job!! You are too funny. I am a trainer and there were definitley times I had to improv.

  • comment avatar JoAnn, The Casual Perfectionist May 26, 2009

    That’s funny! My life is such an improvisation anymore that I sometime lose track of which is the plan and which is the Plan B. :)

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson May 26, 2009

    Hear, hear!

  • comment avatar kagey May 26, 2009

    You were so smart to ask them what they wanted out of the talk first! How much worse would it have been to only get that feedback once you got the Q&A at the end?
    Motherhood teaches us that even the questions we think we know the answers to are worth asking!

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson May 26, 2009

    What a disaster it would have been if I didn’t ask to hear their feedback first. That’s another motherhood improv: listening to our instincts!

  • comment avatar Kristine May 26, 2009

    I love your little insert with the “I pretend not to know them” ha! I saw a T-shirt once that said “Who are these kids, and why are they calling me ‘Mom’?” I should have bought it. My first was a baby at the time, and little did I know I would actually have been brave enough to wear that shirt around someday. :)

    I agree, it was a good move to ask them first what they were hoping to get out of the session. But so hard! Good for you that you were able to improvise.

    I’d say some of my improv moments have been:

    nursing nonstop through an entire flight to keep my baby from screaming.

    When daddy was out of town TOO LONG, one night the kids kept getting into little fights, and dinner prep kept getting interuppted. I sat down on the couch and opened a magazine & declared that I wasn’t able to get dinner done since everyone was fighting so much, so I was giving up. They were angels the rest of the night (and supper got made).

    and……Honestly, I feel like I improvise every single time I go the store, long car ride, get on an airplane, or go to someone’s house with three kids. This is from someone who used to be a Type A, have checklists and thought that if A then B, and so on. I am a completely different person now!!!! I never knew I could be so laid-back. I’m thankful for the chaos in that sense. I think I’m a better wife, and friend because of it.

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver May 26, 2009

    See! Improv IS right up your alley!

    Remember that conversation we had downtown? We need to make that happen!

    I am not surprised in the least that you did so well, no matter what. You are one sharp mama and blogger!

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson May 26, 2009

    You’re right, Lori. I COULD do improv with your hubby. Well, except that I am supposed to be FUNNY!

  • comment avatar Beckie May 26, 2009

    Great! funny that they really wanted to hear about how to build blogs- life is full of improv- taking my son out daily I have to “Wing” it! Good job- wonder when they will actually learn about mom bloggers?

  • comment avatar Kara/MountainMama May 26, 2009

    Nice work! Really, I think I would have just run away! :-)

  • comment avatar yvonne May 26, 2009

    Plans and back-up plans ARE ALWAYS NECESSARY.

  • comment avatar Damselfly May 26, 2009

    Way to go! How kind of you to ask your audience what they wanted out of your talk. No wonder they cheered so loudly for you.

  • comment avatar Bonnie May 27, 2009

    Way to go! Now that you mention it most of parenting is improv! You really have to be quick on your feet. I remember when my boys were little I would try to go shopping and they would just go wild hiding in the clothes racks and running around. I remember watching in horror thinking about how I watched other kids do this before I had kids thinking “my kids will never do that!” haha

    My solution.. stop taking them until they were bigger. Probably saved me some money.

  • comment avatar Leigh Clements May 27, 2009

    LOL!! I saw you on the Denver Neighbours site and decided to check out your blog and I’m glad I did… my 3 month old gave me a dirty look when I started laughing while he was eating… great blog, I’ll be back!
    Leigh Clements
    The Mystery Maiden

  • comment avatar Allie May 27, 2009

    Snort … oh Amber, you are truly precious. “Improv” is most definitely your style, and certainly in the comedy sense. I love how you poke fun at yourself; truly.

    Impromptu speeches are my forte as I have had many a lesson with them in public speaking. However, there is no way that I would have done a stand up job like you as despite attempting to be funny, it never turns out that way. :)

    I am still giggling at pretending not to know your kids. That is so true and am sure is many a mother’s mantra.

  • comment avatar Amber May 27, 2009

    Poking fun at myself is what I do best. I certainly give myself a lot of blog fodder. :-)

    Pretending not to know your kiddos = excellent coping mechanism!

  • comment avatar diana/sunshine May 28, 2009

    is improvise and being flexible the same thing. if not, it’s in the same family. i definitely learned to be more flexible the further into motherhood i ventured. and it made me a better person, too.

    but being flexible wouldn’t have prepared me to improvise in your situation of presenting to the group. i would have had to say, “sorry, you’re getting a presentation on pitching.” =)

  • comment avatar Jillian June 11, 2009

    Nice work Amber,

    Public speaking has never been my forte least of all when the subject matter changes unexpectedly. Kudos for improvising instead of passing out, which I’m certain would have been my form of defense!

    You have a lot to say and it is important that you share your wisdom.

    Hope your travels are fun. If you find yourself near Aspen, I would love to have you and your precious children over for lunch. That is, if you can endure three noisy, but charming, boys.

    Bring your bikes for our BMX track that runs through our backyard. We don’t have sod yet but we do have outrageous jumps. Also, bring your first aid kit…kidding. We have a medical room in our house.

  • comment avatar Jun December 2, 2010

    I commend you. I doubt I would have been able to save myself so easily. You have a true talent there!

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