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COM 42 — Improvisationally Speaking

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 9 weeks
Date(s): Apr 1—Jun 3
Time: 7:00—9:05 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 3
Units: 2
Tuition: $635
Instructor(s): Matt Abrahams, Adam Tobin
Limit: 30
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on May 27
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—9:05 pm (PT)
Apr 1—Jun 3
9 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 3
2 Units
Matt Abrahams, Adam Tobin
Please Note: No class on May 27
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Concerned about an upcoming Q&A session? Anxious about adding your thoughts in a meeting? Afraid of needing to present your hour-long business proposal in 20 minutes? Many of us are uneasy about speaking in public, especially in an impromptu, off-the-cuff manner. However, much of what happens in our personal and professional lives requires exactly this type of communication. By building on our natural speaking and improvisational abilities, we will become more comfortable presenting with authority and awareness.

Informed by scholarly research, this hands-on course combines theory, basic principles, and methods of effective public speaking and improvisation in action. Through individual and collaborative exercises, you will learn how to speak extemporaneously with greater confidence and clarity, regardless of content or context. Lessons will directly apply to professional and life skills. The course will emphasize development and delivery of formal presentations and less-formal, impromptu speaking opportunities (e.g., job interviews, introductions, toasts, and question-and-answer sessions) through up-on-your-feet activities. We will explore such topics as gaining confidence and conveying credibility, engaging with your material and audience, and quickly putting ideas together. Everyone will participate in improvisational exercises.

Lecturer, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Matt Abrahams is an educator and coach who has published research articles on cognitive planning, persuasion, and interpersonal communication. He is the author of Think Faster, Talk Smarter: How to Speak Successfully When You're Put on the Spot and Speaking Up without Freaking Out. Abrahams is the host of the Stanford GSB podcast Think Fast, Talk Smart. He received an MA in communication from UC Davis.

Senior Lecturer, Film and Media Studies, Stanford

Adam Tobin is a screenwriter and playwright. He created the series About a Girl and Best Friend’s Date for Viacom’s TeenNick (formerly The N channel) and received an Emmy for his work on Cash Cab. Tobin also wrote the script and lyrics for She Persisted, The Musical, a New York Times Critic's Pick, based on Chelsea Clinton’s book. He has taught story seminars at DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Studios, and Aardman Animations. Tobin received an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Matt Abrahams, Speaking Up without Freaking Out: 50 Techniques for Confident and Compelling Presenting, 3rd Edition (ISBN 978-1465290472)
(Required) Patricia Ryan Madson, Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up (ISBN 978-1400081882)