Thursday, October 9, 2014

Good Speaking is Good for Business (and Our Humanity)

Stand up comedians are great role models for speakers. I recently read Still Foolin' 'Em by the comic giant, Billy Crystal, and I have a newfound appreciation for stand up comedians. Making people laugh is one thing, but truly great comic geniuses have a profound grasp of the human condition and the world around us. They take what's real, put their funny spin on it, and throw right back at you - in your face.

Thinking about these comedians reminded me of what it takes to be a good speaker. The better speakers:

  • Are confident and prepared. They know themselves, their topic, and most importantly - their audience. 
  • They know what's relevant ahead of time and switch gears as needed - they're dynamic, innovative, and motivating. 
  • They never stop listening to and watching the audience for queues. They know when to ask questions (if not just rhetorical), listen, and then move on - timing is a definite key to a great presentation.
At the end of the day, generations alive right now have most recently lost Robin Williams, and over the last few decades we've lost other great ones, George Carlin, Joan Rivers, and Jonathan Winters to name a few. But what we really lost was someone to remind us of our faults. We still have Billy, Bill Cosby, and others to keep the truth coming though, and I look forward to the comic geniuses of tomorrow to keep me on my toes.