I came across this article today on OpenForum.com by Mike Michalowicz and it reminded me of the many conversations that I have with my comedian brother about my public speaking career. He has always told me if I want to be an amazing speaker I should study top speakers but most importantly study top comedians because that is who top speakers are studying. Peep the article below and happy Tuesday!
Comedians are the ultimate public speakers. They have to hold an audience’s attention for an hour or more. They don’t get a break during their talks, and they don’t get to lean on the audience for Q&A. They are expected to make the audience laugh constantly. And they don’t even get to use a PowerPoint bullet list of discussion points.
Comedians know that the secret to keeping an audience engaged is following the commandments of powerful public speaking. Here are their secrets.
1. Humbling personal stories. As a general rule, an audience will envy someone “above” them, connect with someone “like” them, and support someone “below” them. Any degree of arrogance will result in a disengaged audience. Comedians often open up their acts by sharing a humbling or even humiliating story. Not only is it funny, but it shows the audience that they are just a regular Joe. And regular Joes get support from the audience.
2. Just say no to PowerPoint. How often do you see a comedian using the PowerPoint crutch? Pretty much never. Unless, of course, they are making fun of PowerPoint. Comedians know that the best pictures are the ones that you draw in people’s minds. They also know that they want the audience looking at them, not trying to read a screen. Comedians use detailed descriptions, storytelling, body movement, voice tonality and props (that microphone stand can serve a million purposes).
3. Gesticulation. They say that the spoken word is only 5 percent of communication (Personally, I don’t know who “they” are, but I think they are right.) The remainder of communication is in our tone, pitch, facial gestures, and body movements. Comedians know that on stage, it is hard for people to see the minor expressions (e.g., subtle facial expressions), so they make big movements. Every body movement and facial expression is exaggerated so even the person with the worst seats in the house can see it clearly.
4. Laugh-cry-laugh. Like waves rolling in from the ocean, comedians know that the most engaged audiences need to have a release (laughter) and a recovery (a moment of calmness) before the next release (laughing again). As a public speaker, you may even want to move your audience through a little more of an emotional roller coaster. The laughing and crying keeps them connected and opens them up for you to deliver your knowledge and lessons.
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