Using comedy to sell can be good for business.
And as experience has shown, good presentations can lead to good business. That’s why the manager of the New York Comedy Club consults with companies looking to improve their technique.
April Joyner, in a recent article written for Inc. magazine, Why Learning to Tell Jokes is Good for Business, noted:
“If you’re a good comedian, you’re probably a good presenter.”
Since comedians strive to make emotional connections with their audience, to draw them in and establish a rapport, learning the fundamentals of performing standup can be valuable training for individuals and groups who lead presentations. That’s because those connections can be the start of long-term customer relationships.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when introducing humor into your building products meetings and presentations:
1. Plan Your Spontaneity
Stand-alone humorous statements can appear like random accidents, so work on building a routine. And unless you’re Robin Williams, improvisation should only happen after you’ve scripted out everything else. Write down and memorize your jokes, leveraging what comics call “roll structure”—one joke followed by another in a series of related topics. In time it will become natural and adaptable to different situations.
2. Embrace Nerves
As the article points out, “Things that make you nervous are generally things you care about.” So take advantage of the extra energy and focus it on reinforcing weak sections until you feel confident you have them nailed down. Hands shake? Don’t hold paper and instead keep your hands in motion. Fidget too much? Try taking a couple small steps to one side of the room or the other. Rechanneling nerves can provide you with a boost in enthusiasm and make you more interesting.
3. Movements Are Messages
In presentations and meetings, we too often focus on what we’re saying and pay little attention to how we’re saying it. Watch someone perform standup, and you’ll quickly notice that their delivery is a vital component of their routine—if Steven Wright paced and waved his arms, his dry sardonic humor would fall flat. From where they walk (or if they walk at all) to the scale of gestures and expressions, the non-verbal speaks volumes.
4. Practice Makes Performance
Dolly Parton is known for saying, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” Similarly, it takes a lot of practice to make comedy seem natural. Only when we make an action habitual through repetition can we truly master it. Practicing and rehearsing your delivery is critical to making it a natural component of your presentation. Fact is, good comedy is rarely an accident
5. Get Personal
The best material you have is likely from your own life and experiences in the building products industry. Learning to relate stories and anecdotes makes your presentation more interesting but also make you more likeable. It adds depth and dimension to your content, piquing the curiosity of your audience and making them more engaged.
Even if you don’t have access to a professional comedy club, making use of friends, coworkers, and those “funny people” we all know to critique your jokes and offer suggestions is a great way to get started.