Apart from feeling ghastly with the tail end of a persistent flu bug, I have had a brilliant day today attending a workshop for professional speakers on humour and storytelling. Excellent material and some great ideas for making my own keynote presentations more effective. Also on the same subject I recently discovered John Kindes excellent Humor Power blog which is packed with ideas to add more humour into your presentations.
There is always a danger dissecting humour - it's like trying to explain a joke - the more you try to explain it the less funny it is. However it seems to me that when you are delivering funny material you need to have worked it so much that it's no longer funny to you in order to deliver it. I came across a very funny post the other day (funny to me anyway) from Bug on the Joys of Boys, which were a number of humorous observations on life from the perspective of a mother. I say mother - although interestingly there were no clear markers in the text - I just know this was written by a woman. However the point is that I would not be able to deliver that material right now - I laughed so much it hurt and even now if I try to tell some of them to people I start to laugh uncontrollably and can't deliver the punch lines.
The seminar today was a great mix of tips for finding and developing humour and stories and some excellent examples but the important message for speakers was that humour is not about jokes - it's about observing the humour in life around us. I remember walking down Piccadilly in London one day and saw an A-board for an opticians that read "Eyes Tested - While you Wait."
One of the great lessons I learned about speaking is that it doesn't matter where you speak or who you speak to - this is show business. The audience wants us to entertain them - and if you, as a small business owner, want people to remember your speech and come and do business with you, adding in some humour to your presentations is definitely going to help to achieve that goal.
My big lesson today was about remembering to LOOK and LISTEN - Observe the humour around me - and then WRITE IT DOWN immediately. It's a good tip for any business - keep your eyes and ears open for anything funny related to your products or the needs you satisfy and write it down. Start collecting stories about the way your clients use your products, and don't be scared of the things that go wrong. Self deprecating humour is the best and sometimes the greatest product innovations are the result of a disaster - Post-it notes were the result of a failed experiment to develop a super bonding agent.
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