Wouldn’t it be great to have your audiences just rolling out of
their chairs with laughter? Their faces aching because they’ve
been howling so much—and you didn’t write a single punch
line? Wouldn’t it be cool if you set up situations that are funny,
and you do practically nothing except take the applause? Well
you can, and it’s easier than you think. I promise.
Before I start, I know many of you are going to think such a concept is too scary
and not relevant to your presentation style. Relax and bear with me long enough to
explain why it’s easier than it seems, how you can transition in and out of it with a
special technique, and why every presenter should have it in his back pocket. Deal?
What I’m talking about is interviewing people during your program—creating a
conversation between you and somebody in your audience. It’s a single conversation that the rest of the audience listens in on, which can earn you huge laughs.
A Funny Payoff
You’re first question is probably, “Why
would I want to interview anybody as
part of my program?” First of all, it
helps you connect to that individual
person in the audience, and to the
audience as a whole. What separates
good speakers from the great speakers
is their ability to connect to their audi-
ences. Take Oprah. She spends her
entire career interviewing others, but we all feel connected to her as a individual.
By watching her quiz, answer, ask and respond to so many people, we not only
learn about her guests, but we grow closer and more connected to her.
This connection is crucial and is the most important reason to interview people
during your programs. However, the second and more exciting reason to interview
people is that the results can be funny. Sometimes hilariously funny. Got it? Connection first. Funny second.
Our audiences are craving an experience, not a speech. They don’t want somebody to deliver a “one-man show” or monologue. They want a speaker who makes
the speech feel like a dialogue. The interview technique lets the audience meet us
as presenters, and experience our programs in a way that is interactive, fresh and
rewarding to them. And because they know that these parts of our programs cannot be totally rehearsed, the connection we form with them is deeper.
So how do we do it? Simple: ask good questions, as in open-ended questions that
cannot be answered with one word. If you ask, “Where are you from?” you’re at a
dead end. But if you follow that question with, “Oh, that sounds like a nice place.
What’s the most exciting thing there to visit?” Now you’re cooking!
Either you’ll get a genuinely interesting answer, such as, “Our museums are surprisingly good.” Or you’ll get an unexpected and amusing answer such as, “We are
famous for having the largest ball of twine.” Or, best of all, they might just say
something funny like, “Not a darned thing is good there. That’s why this blasted
convention seems fun.”
Check this out: no matter how they answer, you win! It’s that simple. You ask a
question, your audience asnwers and you get all the credit! Wonderful. They create
the humor for you, and you get to keep the check.
The Laugh Factor
An interview technique that teaches you
how to be funny without really trying