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Become a Better and Funnier Speaker

Lesson 4 of 15

One Sure Fire Way to Add Funny

David Nihill

Become a Better and Funnier Speaker

David Nihill

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Lesson Info

4. One Sure Fire Way to Add Funny


  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

One Sure Fire Way to Add Funny

The nice thing with this is, 58% of the laughs he generated in that talk, or in a lot of his talks, are from the use of funny images. So the laugh isn't explicitly from what he said or a witty piece he's created, it's building up an image and getting a laugh from the image, in a very structured way. So, worst case scenario, you take your presentation, and most people do not do this, go on imgur, go on any of these sites where you can find socially-proven images, and just say, I'm gonna put that. Instead of telling people how I felt, I'm gonna show them how I felt with a little bit of a quirky image. Laugh, every time, as long as you set up that image. So have you ever seen someone in a business environment put up a funny picture and just go, funny, and just point at it, and you're like, kind of. Like, I'm not sure. It's very important that you treat the image as the punchline. So the image is the funny thing, not what you say. So you really build it up, everything I felt at that moment...

, everything emotionally, everything I was living, is represented by this one image, show image. And this can be a pig flying through space and having a laugh. It doesn't even have to be loosely correlated, but as long as you lead them down a different road, and you come in and you treat, that's the punchline. That's the funny thing, not you pointing at it, going, "Pig's funny, isn't it, I like pigs." That doesn't work super-well. So let's remember that, and I want to show you an example of this from pretty much the highest level. So we're all familiar with TED Talks, technology, entertainment, and design. This is Amy Cuddy, second-most viewed talk of all time on TED. She's an expert on body language, which is why I really love this. She knows body language more than anyone. And when you're watching it, I'd like you to ask yourselves, does her body language change before and after she makes people laugh? My viewpoint was that it makes you really comfortable on stage, if you get instant feedback in the audience and they start to laugh. It's the same with you guys, if you're laughing a little bit here, I'm like, oh yeah, this is good, I like it. And if you're like, who's this weirdo? I'm like, oh this is horrible, I dunno. But the laughter makes a big difference. So I just wanna say, this isn't her content, and it doesn't need to be in there. So just watch it and ask yourself, does her body language change, does her clarity in speaking change, does her happiness level change, and how does the audience react. And does this bit of content really need to be in here? So I'm just gonna play it quickly. Did you notice the difference in the way she's talking? Here we have an erm, ahh, and then here we have a funny thing, turns into like a peacock, I showed you that. That was amazingly funny, just extremely confident all of a sudden, because that's how good it feels to make people laugh. Feels good for you as a presenter, feels good for the audience. She knew that content was funny, TED knew that content was funny. It's already produced by a comedian, it's already viral, it's already popular. Does it really need to be in there, no. But does it add to the talk, definitely. Does it make both sides of the equation feel a little bit better about it, definitely. So that's what we wanna do, worst case scenario, funny images and video, build them in. You're gonna see me doing it here, I'm obviously doing it with this one as well, for a reason. But it really represents just how quickly you can put stuff in that takes pressure off you. The next one's one of my favorites again, Tim Urban, he spoke about procrastination at TED's main stage event this year. He pretty much stole the show, he made people laugh 2.6 times per minute. Again, more than the movie The Hangover. But he was using images a lot, very funny, not as much as Seth Godin, but I just want you to note in this one clip how much he builds up the image. So the more you build up the image and flip the expectations, the funnier the image is. So it may not make you guys laugh hysterically, but just watch the impact on the audience, another great speaker. Epic stuff, but did you notice the build-up? He's really building it up, it's nearly 50 seconds, but he knows those funny images are coming, and you know they're gonna laugh at that, they're not expecting it. So the more you build it up, and the little flip of expectations at the end, makes a big, big difference with the images you show. So just remember, don't just show it and point at it, you can do that but it's just never as effective. Build it, build it up.

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!