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Become a Better and Funnier Speaker

Lesson 13 of 15

All the Delivery Tips You'll Ever Need

David Nihill

Become a Better and Funnier Speaker

David Nihill

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Lesson Info

13. All the Delivery Tips You'll Ever Need


  Class Trailer
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1 How To Watch This Class Duration:01:25
2 Class Introduction Duration:08:53
5 How To Replicate Top Talks Duration:13:41
7 How To Get Funny Fast Duration:19:40
9 Storytelling Tips Duration:18:04
11 Live Storytelling Critique Duration:27:12
12 Avoid Going Blank on Stage Duration:21:46
14 Managing Stage Fright Duration:11:08

Lesson Info

All the Delivery Tips You'll Ever Need

Cut the fluff. This is not just me as an Irish person trying to get a sheep in here. (audience laughing) Although I am totally comfortable with the idea. That talk I showed you, or the story when I was at the Moth on stage there, I told that in a theater near hear called The Marsh Theater, it was 22 minutes the first time I ever told that story. And then they said come and tell it at this other thing, you've got seven minutes. I was like seven minutes, how am I gonna do that? That's pretty much impressive. But even when I'm watching it there with you guys, I'm like seven minutes, that could have been four and a half or five minutes, no problem. That could have been a minute. And when I watch it back now, I'm like what the hell was I saying for 22 minutes in that first night? So what I mean cut the fluff is you kinda have to be your own editor. Two ways of doing that. One is pretend like $100 for every unnecessary word, take out the unnecessary characters, and every time you do a talk, ...

you tell a story, you do any form of public speaking, review it, evaluate it, and score everything on a level of one to five. So if it's five, it's staying in there. If it's four, it's staying in there. If it's three, we're gonna work on it. But if it's two or one and you need to cut things out, pull them out. You want the final product to be all fives or fours. So like that Napa joke that I told, it's rubbish, right? I'm like that's a total rubbish joke. But it gets people to applaud or clap. In my mind that would kinda get scored as a four. Probably, right? It's not gold, but it's enough to get a reaction if I need it. And it becomes the same thing with the content in your presentation. What is very necessary information, what isn't? Get rid of what isn't. If it doesn't get a reaction from people, get rid of it. If people don't ask you questions about it after, get rid of it. If it doesn't get comments, or it doesn't get tweets, or it doesn't get anything on social media or any commentary, no one's interested, take it out. You are your own best editor. To be honest, if you don't do that, everybody's talk is like this. That is Shrek the Sheep. And he was a monster in New Zealand for quite a while. And he was a sheep that went off and wondered around for like six years, and when they finally found him, that's what he looked like. (laughing) And I'm no scientist, but I think it's because of this. He couldn't actually see. (laughing) So he was gone for like six years. And when they finally got Shrek the Sheep, and people in New Zealand would be like, "Oh no, that Irish guy's bringing up Shrek the Sheep. "We thought he was finished with all that." Shrek the Sheep became quite a phenomenon for quite a while. Sorry people in New Zealand. This is what he looked like when they finally had their way with him. (audience mumbling) He's only half the sheep he was before. But he's very famous all of the sudden. But honestly, your talk is kinda like that. There's a lot of meat in there and the only one that's gonna chop it off and the extra fluff is you. Editing is a total pain, as anyone who's ever written a book will know. Sometimes it takes somebody else to do it for you. With public speaking, it's rare that you have that other person to tell you that's no good. So you kind of have to listen back to yourself. You don't have to do it painfully like me watching myself earlier on screen. You can do it in the privacy of your own home so it's not out there for the whole world. But it makes a big, big difference. Fast forward is a nice little sneaky technique to practice so you don't spend half your life practicing. So how do you prepare? Say something in fast forward that you're about to say. If you can't say it outloud in fast forward to yourself, and you slip up on a section, then you can't say it at regular speed. So you start off your talk, "Ladies and gentlemen, "we're here to talk about public speaking, "and this is a quote I love and the quote is ... "Bollocks, can't say." And you're like, "I don't obviously know that quote really well." So do you ever see people use quotes in a presentation and they're like I really like this, it's once ... And they just end up reading it. And you're like, you don't know it very well so don't use it. We had one quote in this presentation. The end of laughter is followed by the height of listening. Outside of John Medina's Brain Rules, right. But the one I had the feeling about, backwards, sideways, don't need to listen about it. It's in there because I really feel it's important to what I'm about to teach. Use it. And when you say things in fast forward, and you stumble on those words, you're like, "Ah, I'm not really into it." or "I don't know it enough," or "I need to memorize it more." So we're a start up, we're a poopy something on the dog, and Diane is on the team and Zach is on the team. Who's the other person on the team? Jose. Jose Cuervo's in the room. 15% 250 million. You got it all fast, you got it all slow. So it'll save you a lot of time. Otherwise, you're gonna be at home walking around, talking to yourself like a weirdo. And your friends are gonna be like, "What are they doing?" Especially if you're giving a long talk or a long class, or you're doing a workshop that spans a longer period of time. Say it in fast forward. Start strong. Super important. So the first 30 seconds are the most judged you're ever gonna be. If you're gonna memorize something word for word for word, first 30 seconds. Just to make you feel super comfortable. So otherwise you're gonna come up and you're gonna react to something some day that you didn't plan to react to. Sometimes that can be good. You see a little joke, you do a little call back to something that just happened, it all looks good. But nine times out of 10, you want the first 30 seconds locked down. Because mentally that gets you comfortable. I used to come up, I'd try to take the microphone out first 30 seconds, start shaking, and I'd start drawing all over my face with it because now I can't control this anymore. And now I just start saying mad things like, oh no, no, it's all going wrong. And I feel like I'm sweating more. So now I come up, I leave the microphone in. I talk with it in, and when I get comfortable the microphone gets taken out. Nine times out of 10. When I say the first 30 seconds of stuff, because I know I'm going to be scared. You never get over a fear of public speaking. So really tell myself, okay I'm excited about this process, I'm always sweating, I'm always nervous, I'm always a mess, the heart's always beating, this is just totally normal. And this is what I have to do to hide it. So I can't carry the notes because the notes are gonna shake. I can't put the microphone in my hand because that's not gonna work. But 30 seconds in, if I'm telling a story and it's my story and I'm comfortable telling it. Haven't had to memorize it, it's mine. I lived it and I feel it. If you start telling that, then you automatically start to get a lot more comfortable with the process. It just becomes normal. Honestly, at this stage, occasionally I see a red light over there, there's a camera, I'm like, ah! Extra people. But for the most part, I'm just talking to you guys and I forgot about what was one of the most scariest things I ever contemplated doing. Coming on video and teaching this class. I wanted to get the information out there to someone. You kinda just forget. It's weird. Apart from telling the world Mother was eating wheat cookies. Sorry about that. But here's a great example for it. Never run the clock. Today is a little bit different because we're gonna get as much content in there as we can. But when you set an agreement on time with people that becomes pretty much an unvocalized and unwritten contract that they can switch off. So even if you're that speaker that goes on before lunch and it's dragging over, they're gonna be looking at the schedule and going, "Lunch was at 12:00, I can smell the food out there, "coffee's coming, I'm outta here. "I don't care what you're saying." So always plan just to finish a little bit early. Always plan your closing. So the opening 30 seconds, the last thing you're gonna say, plan your closing. So you're like, "What am I gonna finish with?" Because at any moment, if you're running out of time and someone changes the plan, just go straight to your finish. Because you want a strong ending. That's the most memorable part of it. Next time you go to a comedy club, keep an eye out for a little red light flashing in the comedian's face. It's gonna come with one minute, two minutes to go, or five minutes to go. Before I go on stage, they're gonna say to me, what's your warning light? What's your ending light, how much time do you want? So when that light comes, I go to the one minute close, and one minute close as prepared. Same thing in business land. Here we have a nice clock up there. Not always when you public speak is there gonna be a clock there. This one doesn't have it, but the little Logitech ones do have it, it has a built in timer. And you can set it and it vibrates and nobody knows that it's vibrating. Only you can feel it. So you just set the buzzer to go off at two minutes in your hand, and then you know it's time to finish. If not, get a friend to work and wave a smartphone down the back with a light. Works really well, but just make sure somebody's giving you a light. And always plan to finish at least one minute ever. No one's ever gonna come up to you and go, "Oh, you're talk was amazing. "Why wasn't it longer? (audience laughing) "Why? "Why did you peak too soon?" That happens to you in other ways, a lot with the ladies, but we won't go into that. "Why did it finish so quickly?" With a talk, that's never gonna happen, in the realm of public speaking. So just plan on finishing early and leaving them wanting more. It's kinda cliche, but it's so true. Now if someone falls of a chair, someone explodes, combusts, farts in the middle of it, something funny, you have time to actually talk about that, because you don't wanna ignore that. They're the little gold moments that often make public speaking. I wanna show an example. A lot of people are like, "I do technical stuff. "I don't know." This guy Luis Von Ahn, he is an inventor. He is a data scientist for the most part, and an engineer from Guatemala. It's an awesome TED talk, he could have come out and said, "We had an iteration of our product. "We raise the series A, series B, "blah, blah, blah, blah." Same story. But just ask yourself when he comes out like this, do you wanna hear more of this person? Are they funny? Are they engaging? And it just shows you how important the start is. Because the start is like 100 meter sprinter. If you get off to a slow start, you don't tend to recover. You might get 'em back on sight again as the audience, but never to the level you would have with a strong start. So I can say the exact same thing, whether it's jokes or stories or whether it's a business talk. Bad start, never get the same reaction. Just have a look at this guy. Epic 30 seconds. (silence) Straight to the point. He knows what they think about it. It's funny, but you watch it and you're like, do you wanna see more of him? (mumbling) You think he's good? I think he's amazing just on that. And there's a lot of stuff online, you have to watch this talk, it's hilarious. And it's funny, it's not as funny as some of the other ones we've seen. But that first impression lasts unfortunately. In public speaking it's very important. Try and get them to like it, try and be likable, jokes about yourself, a little story, anything but the first 30 seconds be concise. No filler words, no uh, eh, I'm worried, nice to be here, traveled here, hot day, warm weather, because everybody else just did that. So super important. Be different. You wanna eliminate all filler words. All you have to do is raise your voice 20%. Can't even be 10%. So is anybody like me, I mean Irish people are not exactly famous for clarity in the mastery of English sometimes. There's a lot of uh, eh, ooh, but, and we don't really open our mouth a whole lot, so I could kinda crazy when I speak Spanish. They're always like, "How do you speak Spanish "without opening your mouth? "How are you doing that?" Doesn't tend to move a lot. Don't really orate much naturally, so I use a lot of filler words. Anybody else here have that problem? A lot of ah, eh, but? It is impossible to say ah, eh, or but at a higher than normal tone. Try it. Your friends are gonna think you're a nut job. Aah, eeh, buuut. (laughing) It literally nearly blows your own ears off. It's really weird, but when you raise your voice, I'm doing it exactly right now at this moment. Every word becomes casual, kinda collected, sounds normal to you guys, I feel like a weirdo. But they become more structured and pointing and there's no filler words anymore. And that's kinda hard to fix when you're an Irish person. I used to fill the periods with dirty words all the time. In university my friends are like, "Oh my God, what is he saying? "What is he doing now? "He's using dirty words again." When I got nervous, I would do it the whole time. Raising your voice fixes all that. So if you wanna kill filler words, raise your voice. If you're a microphone like I am right now, the sound belt will adust the microphone to my increased tone, so that I still sound normal no matter what. Exact same in a business presentation. So if you're worried about filler words, and you wanna be a little bit more impactful and precise with words, raise your voice. I wish someone told me that a long time ago. It would have saved me a lot of embarrassment. Get out from the podium. Huge, don't stand behind a podium ever. Do you ever see guys, they're behind something like this and the hands are on there, and it just brings back these memories from when you were young. And it's like they're either a politician or a preacher or somebody boring the life outta me. You have to see somebody to trust them. TED know this, modern day speaking organizations know this, it's still someone with a remote control and nothing. You have to see them to trust them. So if you're given a podium, even those little presenters, I think it's in Logitech the one I have with the timer, but you can also just bring one with you everywhere, and assume that the person who asked you to speak, or to talk, or to be there, isn't gonna provide a clicker. It allows you to walk around. So you can have the computer over there, but you can go walkies wherever you like. And it makes a big difference because it frees you up from the podium. Do not speak from behind a podium. It never ends well. If you're the president, it's fine. You have a captivated audience and you're meant to be in that position of authority. But for anyone else, podium is bad news. Don't ever speak from it. I wanted to get another animal in here. I know it doesn't really look like an animal. Because sadly I designed it myself. It's more like a Pokemon meets something that doesn't exist. But be aware of body language. Specifically, do not pet hamsters. Now, that sounds like a little bit strange, as a way of advice. But you're gonna realize that when you're a little bit nervous, or you're in front of an audience, you're gonna do the same thing as everybody else. They start to play with their hands like this, like they're rubbing an imaginary little hamster. They're just petting the hamster the whole time. "Oh yeah, I'm very excited to be here." Hamster is getting the massage of his life. (laughing) We all do this. I do this, you just haven't noticed it until I highlighted it right now. We all pet the hamster. So that's your weird resting position for your hands sometimes, but you really want them to be open. Strangely enough, how often you move your hands is correlated to the potential virality of your talk. So if you give a talk in public speaking, it's been proven that the ones where the person moves their hands more, is more likely to be engaging, and the audience are more likely to share it. It feels a little bit uncomfortable because you kinda feel like a robot when you start to do it originally. So if you want a hack that allows you to practice it, hold a bottle in each hand and practice your talk at home. Holding a bottle, you can drink 'em, if we're in the Jose Cuervo, and we have a good reason for it, drink away. But hold them. Just hold them out and it just gets you comfortable to speaking like that. Because to doesn't feel natural to do it originally. But it looks totally natural to your audience. Some people go and overkill. Do you ever see those kinda motivational videos online, "You can be like me. "I'm amazing and if you come here and do this." And you're just what the hell is wrong with that person? So there's a bit of a fine line on when you do it. Some people go over the top. But just use your hands like you would with your friends. But just don't be doing this. I'll do this when I'm nervous. Doesn't have the biggest impact in life. Because remember if your content is strong, you can deliver it in any way. Me and Jeff were at a storytelling night recently and this guy got up and he was amazing. He'd given a TED Talk before, he was super polished. Everything was amazing and impressive about his performance. This little ol' Chinese lady got up, looked at her feet and barely spoke English and told a story about baking something. And the whole place was mesmerized. Because it was just so raw and honest and it didn't matter where her hands are. Her hands could have been the same place as your tacos earlier on. Like nobody cared. They were just so enthralled by what this lady was saying. It was relatable. Relatability trumps everything always. And if you want people to laugh at you, they have to like you. So they're not gonna like you if you're the person going around putting too much effort into it. It's not a performance, you're there just to talk to people. So you wanna let them know it's not a performance. You're not watching television. The television talks back. So if you're not paying attention, the television is coming for you. But it's an important differentiation. You can high five someone in the front audience and that makes that happen. Like thanks for your support, high five, all of the sudden. And now, any moment I can call on any person in the audience. So sometimes you look down, they're on their phone. You know, no matter what it is. Yeah, yeah, question. Or are you just gonna sing, I wasn't sure. It's more of a niche question. So I teach meditation, and I'm trying to do something online, just like three minute thing. How do you engage people while you're guiding them in that sort of way? Is, online. Online is hard. Yeah, a lot of people they go to lengths where they'll even like put a person's face on the camera that they're talking to to try and do it. I honestly don't know. I would feel really weird about it. Like even having this camera up there, I know that's a difference. When you guys are here, it kinda feels normal to me, I'm used to having an audience. I had to do it once where I recorded it, and it was really weird. It was me by myself talking into a camera. And I wish I had an answer for you, but I don't. It's hard to replace the energy that comes off a live audience. And that's pretty much the focus of this course. I'm sure they'll have another great expert at some stage teaching one into a stationary camera, but yeah, I'm not skilled to give you the answer on that one. Also I'm emotionally traumatized by meditation. I'm way too ADD. I would be your worst target market ever. Like we can't stop him at all. I'm sorry I haven't got more wisdom on that one. But I know they'll be able to point in the direction of someone. But don't pet the hamsters. Important, not massively important. Did you notice when I pointed at Jeff there a second ago? Like this, then everyone's like, "What did Jeff do?" Even Jeff's looking at me. His eyes went to, "What did I do?" Pointed finger not so good with an audience. So open hand makes a big different. Again this is when you're really getting going pro. Good story trumps all this crazy stuff. So I don't wanna dwell on it that long. But honestly don't point at people, because people get worried. So open hand, politicians do it. The finger like that. But they never wag the finger. They never point at someone, because you get a little bit worried when you point at someone. But automatically I'm like you tell me a funny story, and everyone else is like, "Oh God, I hope I'm not next. "She's screwed." But it just creates a little bit of a tension where I'm like go, on demand. So just watch out for it. Watch the three previous three speakers. Why? Because we wanna build on their jokes or call back a riff. Have you ever been at a conference and someone comes out and talks about a topic and you're like, "The last person "just said the exact same thing. "How are you not making the correlation with it?" Because they were back stage going over the notes "like everybody else and they didn't know what was happening. So the easiest laugh, the easiest popularity you're ever gonna get speaking at conference, just sit down with the audience, watch it, and try and build it into your talk. Very much the call back like Sarah Cooper with Matt where he's like, What? So we'd say what 20%? Bang, audience all laughs. He was watching for it and ready for it. Don't go back more than three speakers. People, it's the same sequence that they don't recall. If it was the very first speaker in the day, and you're like number seven at a conference, if you make a callback joke to the first speaker, they won't get it quick enough. You'd have to explain it. But if you reference something that just happened. You have a big chance of getting a reaction. But build it in, say it exactly as he said it. Or he tells a story about a crazy baby and you're like, "My baby's a bit more calm, thankfully. "But now," into the talk. And all the sudden you've stitched it together. A conference, it was a well produced conference, is a big long story that educates you along the way and everybody's titles should slot together, but that normally is not the case. Never finish on Q&A. We're definitely not doing it today. Have you ever been witness to the fact where an amazing speaker goes up and then the host comes back out, and he stands there awkwardly next to the speaker, and he's like, "Anybody got any questions?" (laughing) Just starts staring at people. And you can see the speaker just going like, "Please, God, somebody." It wasn't bad with Sarah earlier when she was here. But somebody asked her quick. But that great speaker can be just left there going, "Oh my God, please, somebody say something." And literally the host will be like who, who, where, where. You? And the guy'd be like, "No, not me. "Wasn't me." And they're like, "Oh, thought it was you. "Got excited." And in that situation the speaker just kinda walks off like this, "Okay, goodbye now everybody." Nobody knows it's over. And at any moment somebody from the audience could shout, "Oh no, I've got a question." And they have to come back again. "Oh yeah, yeah, okay cool." (laughing) There's no applause when that happens in unison. There's no big reaction to you. Remember I told the story at the Moth, I say thank you, they know it's over, happy days. If you finish on a Q&A, it's like, I like the Counting Crows which really shows my age and my taste in music is a bit strange, but it's like me going to the Counting Crows in the Berkeley Theater, the really cool one they have over there. What's it called, the Greek Theater? And the Counting Crows going "All right, we've reached the end of the night. "Audience, you sing the last song. "Okay, we'll leave it at that, go." And they just walk off. You don't know how it's gonna end. Are they amazing? Maybe they are, I don't know. But sometimes you get a good question, sometimes you don't. It becomes very hit and miss. If you finish on Q&A, that's what you're doing. You don't control the ending. To avoid that in any situation, even pitching, even at a conference when they say there has to be a Q&A, you're like, "Cool. "I'm gonna build in my Q&A to my talk, "and at that point in the talk say, "I'm going to take a few questions "before I make my conclusion." Hugely important. The conclusion is in there to let people know, I don't wanna hear your life story because I'm gonna talk some more. So have you ever been at a conference where they're like, question, and the guy's like, "Well, I'm the kind of person who, "and I mean, I grew up in Mexico so, "I mean I'm from Mexico but I've been working "for this company for like four years, "and I've always had thoughts about," and you're like (whistling) "What kind of question is that?" That's a life story, you're into the Moth for the story tell and get in there. Sometimes they just don't get to the point. But if I say before I make my conclusion, you know that this guy is gonna speak again, the whole room does, so they actually start to give them beady eyes if they go on for longer, even a little bit. But that way I know I can finish by just saying thank you at the end. And by just saying thank you, everyone knows it's over. There's no more questions, we're totally done. I control the ending. I have the ending planned, so if someone doesn't ask me questions, cool, we just go straight to the ending. But I always have that strong ending ready to go. And if you do that in a public speaking environment, in a conference, at a business event, at anything, all the other speakers will be looking at you going, "Smart booger. "Like that one." And they'll take it and they'll use it and they'll realize it. Very, very, very effective. So don't finish on Q&A because you can't control that ending. Much better for video as well. Because now you have video where everybody claps at the same time. So a speaker a lot of the time will say, "Oh, questions? "Yeah, okay" And then nobody knows it's over so then, "Okay." there's no moment where the audience gets to show them their a bit of appreciation. But if you do it this way, you get to control that reaction. So it's like when I introduce someone or welcome someone, you feel kinda obligated to clap if somebody's been talking to you. But you just need your cue to do it. It's like do you ever go to a comedy club when they're introducing somebody? So the host is introducing somebody. They say, "Oh, John is up next. "John is a friend of mine. "It's really great to have John here. "Me and John went to college together, "and he wrote this book, it's really good. "So I'm really happy John's here. "Please welcome John." And you've heard the word John so many times you don't react to John anymore. There's no surprise anymore like there was a joke. Everything's kinda out the window with the anticipation. Go to a comedy club, "Ladies and gentelemn, our next comedian "has been on tour with David Chappelle, "you've seen them on Letterman, "and they're here for you tonight. "Please put your hands together for". And you're just like, who is it? This could be amazing. That's the only thing, the minute they say that person's name, you applaud. It should only be said last, it should only be said once, and the minute you say it, the audience gets their time to react. Very, very important. So if you're ever hosting an event or you're ever doing the introductions, they give you a big long introduction, just be like I'm not saying that, as Chris would have done with me today. Any you reword it to a way that you can memorize it and you just make sure you only say their name once, you say it at the end, and you say it to build anticipation. The same way you do to emphasize the 80% as the key figure at the end of the sentence. The same way you do for President Obama to get the reaction from people with the jokes and make his timing look awesome, keyword is at the end, speaker's name is at the end. You finished at the end. Say thank you at the end. Only thing. I know you had a question, there. Did I answer it, do you wanna grab the box? Yeah that was a very good point about never finishing with the Q&A. Yeah, thanks. That's very helpful. That was my finale, always finish with a Q&A. You and nearly the whole world. Nobody told them any different. Yeah. There was always this weird awkward moment where, question, no, close it up, wrap it up. I host a conference and I've stood next to these amazing speakers that I've convinced to fly in from somewhere and give up their time, and this person's used to doing main stage TED Talks and it's just me and him standing there going please somebody ask a question. And then it got to the point I had to plant questions in the audience to avoid that happening. And then I was like there's gotta be a better way. So I remember someone telling me to try this. A very accomplished speaker I love called Andrew Tarven, who's a comedian and a TED speaker. So he was the best of both worlds. A lot of you might have seen him speak. But he will always do this. And you're like that was slick. I like the way he did that. And that way if there's good stuff in the Q&A you have time for it, you still know the ending. Don't finish on the Q&A. It makes you look, even if it's a pitch, change it. Even if they ask for the Q&A, say I'll build it in, I will build it in. I'll do it, I'll moderate it, I'll control it. Don't have the awkward moment where the guy's running around with a microphone. Unfortunately, this is necessary. The review and evaluate. Don't do it live on a creative course like I did a creative live course today with a studio audience and me standing beside me watching me which is really weird. Everybody hates looking at themselves on camera and listening to themselves. It's kinda like that moment where you get ready to go out at night and you look in the mirro and you're like, "I'm looking pretty good." And you go out and you do a little bit of drinking, and you party a bit. And you see the photos online the next day. And you're like, "Oh my God, I look horrible. "How did that happen? "I looked amazing when I left the house. "It all looked ready to go. "Don't know how that happened." It's the same when you listen to your voice or you watch yourself on video. You're like, "Ah, I sound so bad. "Oh, it's terrible, it's hard to look at." Nobody in the world likes doing that. You just have to do it. It's the quickest learning and feedback you'll ever get. You don't have to do it on video. So every time I'm speaking, apart from something of this length, I'll have a smartphone in my back pocket, it's on audio record, and the only time I really care about that performance, how it went, or that talk, is within 24 hours. Usually just when I got off stage. Have you ever spoke before and you're like, "Oh, I think that went well. "I think that went bad. "How did that go?" You start asking people. And they say don't worry, we videoed it, and then three months later you get the video. But you don't care about it anymore. You only really care that night. Strangely enough, I ended up doing the Moth, the big final again. I think you were there, Jeff, this year. It's like 1400 people there. And I had to go first, which is a horrible position to go. And I went, I told a story, and I got off story, and I was like, ah, I felt like that went really bad. And I drove home and I was feeling bad about it. I sat through the whole show and I'm like oh, it wasn't enjoyable, I don't think they were liking it. I listened back to it because I audio recorded it. I was like oh that was great. They laughed everywhere I wanted them to laugh. They reacted everywhere. Like I'm pretty proud of that actually. But I wouldn't have known that unless I audio recorded it. And once you do it once or twice, you get super comfortable listening to yourself back. But it's a good thing, it forces you to cut the fluff. Because if you do a one hour talk, there's no way in hell you're listening back to a one hour talk. So you start doing shorter talks. So they ask you to come and do a talk, it's kinda skewed for keynote, or organizers, of conferences to say can you talk for an hour? We need a keynote. Keynotes are kind of a thing of the past. So if you get asked to come and speak for an hour, just go, you know, I have a great 20 minute talk, and a lot of the time, people have questions, let's make up the time in Q&A. So I'll do a 20 minute talk, I'll make up all the rest in Q&A, and if they don't have questions, no worries. And that person will say okay the whole time. They're just, their life is easier if they book 10 one hour speakers, instead of literally 40 speakers for the shorter time slots. But your audience's mind attention is gone. We're doing some interactive stuff here today. For the guys at home, they're probably unconscious right now. Like, "Oh, what's he talking about? "I don't know." You have me staring at you and coming a little bit closer, but 20 minutes is kinda the cutoff for attention spans. Honestly, 10. It's proven that your attention dips after 10 minutes, and it doesn't really come back unless you hook people in with some form of story or learning element that's coming. So people ask you to speak for a longer period of time, don't. It's much harder to give a shorter talk. Force yourself to give a shorter talk. Because you're actually gonna listen back to it. You're never listening back to yourself for an hour. No way. Your family members aren't even gonna make it through that talk. Unless you're accepting an Oscar or it's your presidential nomination speech, they're probably not watching it. But just bear that in mind. The longer it is, the harder to get feedback.

Class Description

Let’s just be real for a minute: most public speakers are boring. And aside from making your day a little less fun, dull presentations are bad for business.

Audiences have become conditioned to receiving information with a dose of entertainment, and that makes humor a critical tool for any professional communicator. We want our data with a punchline these days-- witness the success of The Daily Show or the stickiness of many of President Obama’s speeches for example.

It’s not just about getting some laughs to make yourself feel good; it’s about using humor to grab and hold your audience’s interest, making your message stickier and ultimately more persuasive. In a world full of bland, dull speakers, if you stand out, you win!

The good news is that humor is a skill, which means that it can be learned by anyone. The notion that we’re “born funny” couldn’t be more false: “being funny” is just a set of easily-replicated techniques (for example, the setup followed by the punchline) that anyone can pick up with a little practice.

Whether you are preparing for a business presentation, giving a wedding toast, defending your thesis, raising money from investors, this class will take you from nervous and sweaty to stage-ready.

Bestselling author, storyteller, occasional comedian, and Irishman, David Nihill will teach you:  

  • How top business speakers are using humor
  • One Sure Fire Way to Add Funny to any content
  • How To Replicate Top TED Talks
  • Basic Comedy Writing Techniques
  • Quick ways to get funny fast
  • How To Make Boring Things Funny (with guest Sarah Cooper)
  • Storytelling Tips that everyone can use
  • Advanced Comedy Writing Techniques
  • How to critique your own stories
  • Never go blank on stage with the memory palace technique
  • Content delivery tips for all levels
  • Manage stage fright  

As an added bonus, Sarah Cooper, a writer, comedian, and creator of the satirical blog, will be joining David to teach you how to make boring subjects more entertaining.

Learn more about David Nihill from his appearance on the “Profit, Power, Pursuit Podcast”!  



I always wondered why my favorite TED talks look so effortlessly off-the-cuff while commanding my undivided attention: Laughter. David's class taught me how "The end of laughter is followed by the height of listening." Applying stand-up comedy techniques to the art of storytelling makes information much easier to retain, and hence, easier to share with others. David handily makes the case for why the comedic structure is necessary and applicable in a variety of cases, ranging from business presentations to blog posts. After learning about the joke structure and funnel, I now hear/see them in action throughout my day. He also shares specific tips on how to "memorize" talking points while remaining totally flexible to last-minute time changes (e.g. "Your 20-minute talk just got chopped to 5 minutes. Go!") David covers specifically how to start your talk, end your talk, and where precisely to position your Q&A sessions to maximize audience reaction to the speaker. He supercharges this talk with so many actionable tricks and tips. Sarah Cooper makes a guest appearance sharing 4 tips that I found especially helpful for creating funny visuals. David's heartfelt honesty about the guts it takes to "get up on stage" - the vulnerability of it - really shines through. And now, I carry my "Funny File" with me at all times. This is a truly phenomenal class, both in content and delivery. Thank you for making me laugh, David and Sarah!

Kashif Rashid

Pretty brilliant. David is hilarious so he is definitely using his techniques. Its also easier to follow the class and want more when they are funny. I think most of the presenters on Creative live should be taking this class too . Make it funny so that learning becomes "fun"-ner

Philipp @PhotoAmmon Ammon

Brilliant lecture. David managed to keep me hooked, and I am pretty sure I will do so much better on whatever public speaking I have to do next As a photographer, I know this will help improve the way I look at talking about my work, and I think these kind of skills are vital to any artist. One little thing I didn't like about this was more of a technical issue. He uses videos as examples to the content he is teaching, but none of the CL links to the videos worked. I know its probably a copyright issue, but I would rather watch bad footage of the TV in the studio than nothing at all. Especially since I can't pause the talk and find the videos. Regardless, brilliant talk. Definitely watch it!