Steal presentation techniques from stand-up comics


Stand-up comics know how to engage an audience. Copy what they do.

Communication coach Jon Torrens writes:

At its finest, I believe that stand-up comedy is the supreme form of entertainment, beating theatre, film and live music hands down: it’s story-telling, improvisation and audience interaction, in what can feel like a one-off event. The best comedy venues don’t have windows (and are often in basements), to form an environment free of distractions, that feels like a secret, special event, separated from the ordinary, everyday world.

When a stand-up comic steps on stage, no matter who they are, they always experience a mixture of fear and excitement. However, the skilled comic steps willingly off the cliff, using improvisation, wit and imagination to take the audience on a journey into their world, while looking for opportunities to create the key to stand-up comedy’s appeal: funny, unique, shared moments.

Make no mistake, the comedian’s goal is to entertain, but to do so they employ the most powerful, audience-focused delivery you will ever see. And that’s what makes a great presentation.

Tap into this alchemy for your presentations: any moment that feels improvised could be that particular moment the audience enjoys so much that they’re still talking about it long after the event. The stand-up comic’s methods are all there for you to use:

  • Write and rehearse something really solid.
  • Start strong! Grab the audience’s attention and show them you’re worth listening to.
  • Keep the energy up – back up their first impression of you.
  • Keep it short – just the essential stuff, please.
  • Finish strong! Repeat the initial message and thank them. Then get off!

Watch your favourite stand-up comic, observe what you like about what they do, and then copy those techniques. Simple.

Image: Sarah Silverman is superb.

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By reducing stress and fear, I make giving talks enjoyable.

Using my experience as an introvert, stand-up comic and video games designer, I deliver short, fun but effective training to create successful, confident speakers. I work with both companies and individuals.

I currently deliver training online and in person.

Jon Torrens