7 Comedy Tips to Deliver a Killer Pitch!
What does the average American fear more than death?
No kidding. Public speaking ranks as the most common fear across the nation, while death weighs in at number two.
Cue the Jerry Seinfeld joke: “So you're telling me that at a funeral, most people would rather be in the coffin than have to stand up and give a eulogy?!”
That’s pretty crazy, right? But crazy because it’s almost universally true.
“If someone says they never get nervous, they’re lying,” says Jay Mays, Managing Partner at Pitch Lab. “Everyone gets nervous. It’s not about killing the butterflies. It’s about getting the butterflies to fly in formation.”
Pitch Lab is a Denver-based team of comedians and storytellers who takes clients through workshops that tap into comedy to help you make friends with public speaking. Specifically, they break down the techniques of your favorite stand-up comedians to illustrate how to how to build better client relationships, differentiate from the competition and win more deals.
Turns out stand-up comedy is a lot more than shits and giggles. It’s quite possibly the best teacher of confidence for both entrepreneurs and client-facing teams.
To get your butterflies all flying in the same direction and engage in some lighthearted after-hours bonding, Pitch Lab partners with both Denver Startup Week and General Assembly.
Haven’t been to Pitch Lab yet? Here are some fan favorite takeaways:
Tip #1: Be mindful of your non-verbal communication.
According to studies, 93% of communication is non-verbal.
“Body language is vital to any client-facing professional services person,” says Mays. “You are the differentiator.”
Tip #2: Reframe the threat as an opportunity.
The worst thing you can do when nervous is attempt to calm down. Instead, change your nervousness to excitement.
Anxiety and calm are light years apart on the emotional spectrum. But anxiety and excitement are a lot closer. So just keep telling yourself, “I am excited. I am excited. I am excited.”
You’re not going to feel much different, but what science shows us is as you’re reframing that anxiety as excitement, your performance improves.
Tip #3: Break down audience barriers.
Before your talk begins, try to say hello to audience members and get their names as they’re entering the room and settling in. That way, you’re not pitching to a large room. You’re pitching to individuals, making it feel like one-to-one relationships.
“You’re not talking to strangers,” Mays says. “You’re just having a conversation.”
Throughout your talk, vary your eye contact, and try to hit every single person during the course of a workshop.
Tip #4: Command the room.
The first way you command a room is not by talking, but through silence. The dramatic pause is a powerful tool, especially for those who talk fast.
“You’re not talking too fast,” says Mays. “You’re not pausing enough. Don’t forget to pause and give the audience time to catch up, build a rhythm, and ratchet up the tension.
“This is a magical place in sales and in customer service. Use uncomfortability to your advantage to close all along the way, and not just when the contract is signed.”
Tip #5: Break the fourth wall.
Pitch Lab describes “the fourth wall” as an imaginary barrier between performers on stage and their audience. Fans of Deadpool or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off know this effect well.
While commanding the room, mention the surroundings obvious to you and your audience. If the lights go out, you’re not going to continue your presentation; you’re going to acknowledge the darkness and use the moment to your advantage to engage the crowd.
Tip #6: Be fully visible.
What do stand-up comedians do when arriving on stage? Almost always, the first thing they do is go to the mic stand, remove the mic, and remove the stand.
“Your audience needs to be able to see you so they can trust you,” Mays says.
In a sales meeting, if you’re the salesperson, don’t sit behind your open laptop. Take written notes in a notepad to remain fully visible.
Tip #7: Move with a purpose.
Nobody owns the stage better than Chris Rock. He wants you to walk with him. Then he sets and delivers his punch line. There are also scenarios when you will want to move around so clients can see and engage with you.
Your movements have to support the words. One way to think about this is to break up the stage into different sections based on what you’re talking about. Another way to approach this hack is to identify separate locations to deliver the before and after, or the problem and solution. When sitting during a sales pitch, you can stand up sometimes to move with a purpose.
But never, never, never try to manufacture it. To move with a purpose is be authentic and do what’s natural.
“Authenticity rules,” says Mays. “Your audience doesn’t care about perfection. They just want connection.”
With the techniques shared by Pitch Lab, connection is what you’ll get. You’ll also get actionable takeaways on how to build better client relationships, differentiate from the competition and win more deals – all while having a few laughs.
Join us at Denver Startup Week on Tuesday, September 17th and learn how to tell a captivating story like a stand-up comedian. Click here to register now!