5 Engagement Techniques We Can Steal From Comedians
If you’ve ever listened to a comedian, you’ll know they’re masters at engaging and entertaining crowds of people.
But how do they do it? Are the simply born funny and it just comes naturally?
I’m sure it does for some people. But I’ve since come to realise that it’s a skill that can be learnt and refined over time.
Whilst I’m sure now many of us want to be a comedian, let’s delve into what they can teach us, which we can apply into the (corporate) public speaking arena.
Here’s 5 important lessons:
1. IT’S ALL ABOUT TIMING
A comedian will always pause after they’ve said something funny, to let that sink in and to invite / allow us the time to laugh.
If you’ve ever broken down a comedian’s joke and tried to retell it, you’ll realise it’s all in the delivery.
Sometimes it’s not funny at all, it’s just the way they’ve told it, that makes it funny.
We too need to consider this and make sure we pause to allow what we’re saying to truly sink in. To focus on the timing of our words.
2. THEY TELL STORIES
Comedians are master storytellers. They will always share stories to bring something to life.
Generally it’s something they experienced or dealt with, that they’re relaying.
They will paint that picture and put us into that scenario or situation by telling the story bit by bit, with us hanging on every word.
E.g. The other day, I was ….
3. THEY ACT THINGS OUT
A comedian will act out the voices of the people in their stories and even stand in different positions to indicate the different people.
They generally also do/show what it is they’re talking about, whether it’s a funny walk, a silly expression, an exasperated tone, etc
Essentially, they go all out. They don’t hold back. They have crazy vocal variety and that’s what makes things so entertaining half the time.
Try having that mentality with your presentations. You don’t have to be silly, but try and at least give it your all in terms of energy and enthusiasm.
4. PRACTISE, PRACTISE, PRACTISE
One of the things I’ve learnt about comedians is that they practise their jokes over and over and over.
What to us seems like an effortless array of funny jokes and anecdotes is a well-choreographed routine that’s been practised to within an inch of its life.
Because effortless delivery generally requires practice.
If you have an important presentation or large audience and you want it to go well, make sure you’ve practised it enough that it feels effortless.
5. IT’S OK TO LAUGH AT YOURSELF
Comedians are quite happy to make a fool of themselves up on stage.
They’re aiming to get a laugh at the end of the day, so they will often do or say something silly or what we might feel is embarrassing.
They don’t mind looking ridiculous, which I think is quite liberating.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. If something doesn’t go as planned (e.g. there’s tech issues) or even if you’re talking about a failure, it’s ok to laugh at yourself.
Yes, comedians are paid to entertain and make us laugh, but we can absolutely learn a thing or two from them to take into the world of public speaking.
You don’t have to aim to do the same, but a tweak in the direction of a comedian is a great move. It will make your presentation more engaging and even a little entertaining.
What else can we learn from comedians!? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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Emily Edgeley is a Public Speaking Coach for the Technology industry. Since 2017 she’s run over 100 group coaching sessions, coached more than 200 people privately, and formally supported first time and experienced speakers at 10 Conferences, covering 1000+ people across the globe.
She’s on a mission to help anyone in the Tech arena learn how to speak with clarity, impact, and confidence, whether that’s at work or at a Conference. So they can share their ideas, build their brand and start to enjoy ‘public speaking’!