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Become a Better and Funnier Speaker

Lesson 15 of 15

What's The Worst That Could Happen?

David Nihill

Become a Better and Funnier Speaker

David Nihill

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Lesson Info

15. What's The Worst That Could Happen?


  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

What's The Worst That Could Happen?

Remember this story from the start? Remember were talking about bookending, about to do some of that on stage, now you've seen the story, right. How we curate it, how we got in that situation, I thought I was gonna win that night. Honestly, I was telling the story, and I went early and all my friends were like, "Oh, you're gonna win." My friend literally as I walk by him, "Oh, you're gonna win." I was winning all the way until the end, for the whole night. Then right at the last minute, this lady told a story and it was brilliant. And she won. And I was like, ah, how am I gonna end this book now? That's kinda the end of that one. I thought it might be a cool ending to this whole experiment. Ironically I met this girl four months later, I was talking to her, and I was like you did really well that night. You know there was like four comedians in that competition, you beat them all, like how did you do it? Did you read any books? Where did you get information? She was like, "Oh, I read t...

his one book. "It was really helpful. "Let me pull up the notes. "It was called Seven Comedy Habits, "by a guy called David Nihill." And I was like that's my book. (laughing) I couldn't believe it. I took a photo with her and I sent it to my friends. I was like you will not believe what's happening here. Literally, my stuff. Couldn't believe it. So I got a good kick off that. But then, and I could never have anticipated that, this is just me telling a story that night. But as it happens a couple of weeks later, I got contacted by a producer of a large TEDx event, TEDx Marin, one of the longest running ones here. And he said, "Hey, I'd like you "to come and speak at this TED event. "Would you be interested?" And I was thinking oh that would be a pretty cool ending for the ol' book. And I was like hold on a minute. I have a friend, Arosh, who suffered a spinal cord injury that got me into all this mess in the first place, and he has a pretty epic story to tell. And he just told it to an audience for the second time ever recently, and I have the link to it. Can I send it to you? So Arosh's first talk that I helped work on him with, not to make it funny, just to use these same techniques that you've learned to put it in there. The first talk he spoke before Guy Kawasaki, in front of 300 Silicon Valley CEOs. The second talk he got a write up in Forbes because a reporter saw him using a little memory palace before he went on stage. And was curious what memorization techniques he was using. His third talk now is about to be way cooler. So this guy booked him to speak at TEDx Marin, and I was backstage as he was giving his talks. He managed to tell them how for one whole year he dedicated himself not to walking again but just to the smaller goal initially of standing again on his own two feet, to be able to propose to his girlfriend eye to eye. And of course she said yes when he did it. So he showed the photo onstage. I'm standing backstage. The audience stood to applaud for 51 seconds. As he actually stood up out of his wheelchair, and this his new bride to be comes out and gives him a little kiss live on stage. And it was super, super emotional to be there. But he was bookending it, he had the rule of three in there, he had the humor moments, he used the memory palace. And it wasn't to be funny. It was to be engaging and get his message across. So if you take nothing else from this class, because it's kinda long and thanks for sticking with us for all this time but, I think it's get out there. That was me on Arosh on the stage. And it's very hard to convey to that the feeling that was in that. It was just cool to watch him crush it so hard and all the progress he's made. And dragging myself out of my own comfort zone at the same time. So if you take nothing away from all this lunacy, start with a story, find the funny part to it, and use comedic writing techniques, or comedy techniques, because at the end of the day, it's your story, you know it better than anybody else, and you never know what will happen when you tell it. So thank you very much. (audience clapping)

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!