'I've not done this in nearly two years....I'm super nervous about speaking' was the phrase shared with me at a charity event I attended, whereby several employees were giving an update to donors.
I get it - Despite having spoken infront of audiences multiple times, it has been difficult for some to rebuild confidence after two years where events like this just didn't happen.
I've always felt that nervousness is a strange emotion / reaction. We're nervous about things going wrong, stumbling our words, making a fool of ourselves, forgetting lines or being super boring to the audience. Yet, the cause of many of those concerns, is the nervousness itself.
When we are nervous;
- We stop thinking properly ahead of the presentation and so perhaps causes something to go wrong.
- We stumble over our words because our mind is focusing on the fear of an audience.
- We might make a fool of ourselves by not watching our...
Have you ever analysed a comedy set?
Probably not. Unless you've pursued the art of comedy, there's no real reason to do so.
It's far more satisfying to simply enjoy, what feels like an ad-libbed ramble of observations or a rolling set of one liners.
That said, you've probably sub consciously been impressed by the ability to refer back to earlier comments,
...you've probably laughed at the running gag that the comedian revisits throughout the show,
...and you've unknowingly appreciated the story being told as the comedian performs.
Today, I want to explore three of these intentional structures and consider how you might use them in your next presentation.
You'll have observed Comedians refer back to a joke or comment they made earlier on in the show. If a joke gets a particularly big laugh, it's not uncommon for the Comedian to have other opportunities built into their set, referring back to that initial joke. Just as...
A few months back, I was on a line up, with a few other comedians, all of which had significant TV credits to their name. One had been on The Royal Variety and another had been on 'Live at the Apollo'. All of them, brilliant comedians - In fact, people I would look up to and learn from.
It just so happened that at this gig, due to travel arrangements of each comedian, that I ended up headlining. I sat through the other comics performance, stressing ever so slightly at how I was going to 'top' it. The laughs had been big and fast coming the whole night.
Thankfully I had a very good set. In fact, it was perhaps one of my strongest gigs to date, but the real joy of this gig, actually came via a facebook post I was tagged in on the way home. (My mate, Oli, was driving!)
Throughout my show, at various points, I have the audience up on their feet, hands on their cheeks, shouting 'Oh My Days' at the top of their voices. Some audiences take to it, others not so much - but...
The success or failure of a presentation, is often decided in the speakers mind, by how engaged the audience appeared to be.
If the speaker feels that the audience is disengaged, distracted or lacking in interest, it can be a real blow to the speakers confidence.
However, the problem is, unless you are intentional about creating opportunities for engagement, it's hard to know where your audience are at. After all, people's relaxed, natural facial expressions are not the smiling, engaged faces we might hope to see. If anything, it's quite the opposite.
So here are three ways in which you can provoke engagement from your audience;
When people take their seats, ready to listen to a presentation, they make themselves comfortable and prepare for what is a typical presentation. If you want to provoke engagement from the beginning, why not start with an unusual request;
'Can everyone please stand up for a moment please ...'
People do strange things when standing infront of an audience.
It's quite common and largely comes from how they are feeling in that moment. Perhaps they are nervous, feeling intimidated by the audience, or not completely sure of what they are doing.
In this post, I'm going to outline three bad habits that creep into people's delivery when presenting. You'll likely resonate with at least one of them, either from your experience on stage, or as an audience member.
I remember when I was in school, our production director was brilliant, creative and slightly intimidating as you'd expect from such a role. In my time at the school, I was fortunate to land a few lead roles, but this bad habit of a moving leg, was a big one for me. I'd constantly and unknowingly swing one leg or move around on the spot. It must have been so irritating to watch.
In several rehearsals, I remember the director holding my feet to the stage...
For many, the idea of public speaking fills them with nervousness & fear.
That said, I genuinely believe that everyone is capable of it. I believe that even the most nervous person can develop the skills to manage their nerves and successfully deliver a presentation.
Here are my three tips for developing confidence in your ability to present infront of an audience.
Many people think that having a script - or notes to the side, will make them less nervous. I actually think having notes increases your nerves. (I'll let you have brief bullet points, but not long form notes!)
The fear of stumbling your words, forgetting chunks of content or getting lost mid way through, only adds to the fear of 'looking silly' infront of the audience.
Take the pressure off, internalise what you want to say so that it comes naturally and then go and deliver it without the pressure of a script.
There's nothing worse than a keynote presentation being delivered with little or no sense of personality. It's hard to stay focused on the content, when the delivery is dry, scripted and lacks any enthusiasm.
That said, no one delivers a keynote with the goal of being boring. No one wants an audience to feel disconnected and bored. So what's the cause of this apathetic style of presenting.
We'll come to that in just a moment.
On the flip side though - We feel drawn in by comedians because the premise of comedy is so entwined with who they are as a character, either as themselves or a stage persona. We are hooked from the moment they walk on stage to the moment they leave. Why? Because they have stage presence, because their characteristics are entertaining to observe as an audience.
For many performers, their stage persona has gone through years of tweaking and refining. Some like to give their stage persona a name - I've known...
Over the years of being a professional Comedy Magician, I've had several people ask me for advice on presenting upfront. It's known as one of the UK's most feared activities. It causes many to be pushed right out of their comfort zone and weeks of stress in the lead up to the event.
Whether it's entrepreneurs and business owners required to pitch their products and services, charity CEO's looking to communicate their message and impact, or church pastors who are expected to deliver a transformational sermon, week in, week out. The truth is, many of us have opportunities to speak to an audience, but many either resist it, or don't seek to improve the art of presenting upfront.
Whilst I'm not a typical 'speaker', those who have asked me for advice, recognise that there are lots of transferrable skills from the arts. In fact, many professional corporate speakers look to Comedians and performing artists to develop their craft.
There's good reason for this - Any...