What does a comedian have in common with a business entrepreneur? In terms of presentation, a comic has to deliver a message and connect with his audience. He faces similar problems as the business presenter: rowdy crowds with little interest and a lack of audience engagement are problems both at the mic and in front of the board of directors. Here are some things you can learn from your comedic counterparts.
1. Strong Start
Often, the first joke in a set can make or break the entire presentation. Carefully pick the tone and run with it—sudden changes in expression or mood can mean a confused audience. Make sure everything you give them is consistent, well thought out and is true to the style you choose to pitch. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than watching a colleague bomb a presentation, weeks of work melting away in front of your eyes, so make sure every presentation begins on a high note.
Additionally, it is important to keep in mind your body language and tone of voice when beginning a presentation. Just as important as the content, the delivery of a presentation needs to be strong and convincing. If you’re fidgeting, swaying from side to side and always looking down, your presentation may not come off as strong as it could.
2. Audience Interaction
Asking questions is a great way to keep the audience engaged. Challenge your listeners to come up with their own ideas, which will often lead to everyone learning even more than you could have taught them had there been no audience participation at all. Some learn better from peers and from sharing their ideas, so, to cater to different learning styles, audience participation should be a key ingredient. The goal of a presentation is to convey an idea and make it understood.
Every audience is different. Some audiences will have an energy about them that will make it impossible for them to stop sharing their ideas. Sometimes, audiences will be so rowdy that the presenter has to get involved and ask the rowdy person to leave the room. Dealing with uncooperative audience members can be tricky—especially if you have a tight time constraint. A comic can fix the situation by poking fun at the audience member who is being especially rowdy.
3. Be Spontaneous
As much as you have prepared for a huge presentation to be given in front of the most important people in the company, you have to remember that the people you’re presenting to are just other people. They have wants and needs and senses of humor and favorite foods—just like you. Tap into this human connection and make relevant points that everyone can relate to. Since the audiences are so varied, it’s hard to plan exactly what you’re going to say before you actually see for yourself who they are. Prepare for every audience situation and be flexible.