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Friday, March 14, 2008

What Does it Take to Be a "Funny Motivational Speaker?"

funny motivational speaker Avish ParasharHave you ever wondered what it takes to be a funny motivational speaker? To paraphrase one of my favorite movies, "Glengarry Glen Ross," (and to be a bit indelicate) "it takes brass balls." This might sound like a strange answer, since if you've seen me speak you know it's all about having fun and making people laugh and then slipping in some valuable info while people are laughing. Of course, that's when things are going right...

When things aren't going right, comedy is one of the hardest things in the world to do. I did a gig not that long ago where the room was not set up well, the sound system was poor, there was an open bar to start the event, and to be frank, the audience was not there to listen to a speaker, funny or not. It started out with only a portion of the audience paying attention, and only got worse and worse. I was like the violinists on the Titanic, plugging away while the ship kept sinking and sinking. If only Leo DiCaprio had been there to swoop me away to safety...but alas, I was all alone.

To make things scarier, I just came across a review of a "keynote interview" with the CEO of Facebook. You can read the review and actually watch the whole thing on line, but in a nutshell, the audience loses interest and with about ten minutes left they kind of revolt and get rude to the interviewer. Turns out, the entire crowd was "Twittering" each other throughout the speech about how bad it was. Once people realized that they were all on the same side, they got a bit emboldened.

The review above criticizes the audience's mob mentality. Interestingly, I read a second review which supported the audience's revolt (at least to a degree):

So apparently the stakes have gone up. Back in the day, you had to worry about people walking out or chatting during your speech. In the worst case you'd have to worry about getting a stack of bad evaluations after it was all over. With new technology, people can take it much further. They can essentially evaluate and review your speech as you give it, communicate those opinions with each other, and take semi-organized action during your speech. It's like we're reverting back to the Roman Coliseum days where speakers will live or die by the will of the people. Won't be long before bad speakers have tigers unleashed upon them mid-speech (insert your own Sigfried and Roy joke here)

Whether your goal is to be a funny motivational speaker, or to just be successful in your own field or business, there are things you can learn from this:

1) Be good. Be very good. Sounds too obvious to say, but you have to prepare and be qualified. Read this blog post for more on that...

2) Pay attention to your audience/market/target. At the 52 minute mark of the above video, when the audience starts to revolt, the interviewer asks, "do you really think this is going bad?" She had no idea that audience had totally lost interest, and kept plugging along. Whether you are speaking, selling, marketing, delivering customer service, or just plain trying to communicate with someone, you *must* pay attention to them. That is more true now than ever.

3) Get some "brass balls." Nothing worth achieving happens without setback. No matter how well you do the two above, sometimes things just won't go well. You will be tempted to give up. Heck, after my rough gig I walked straight out of the ballroom, up to my hotel room, and lay on my bed for twenty minutes resisting the urge to cry like Sandra Dee after getting rejected by Danny Zucko. Then I pulled it together, decided to blame the audience (he he he...) went back down, had fun, and got ready for the next one. Everyone has those days. Steel yourself to it and commit to pushing through - it's the only chance you have to achieve anything worth achieving.

1 comment:

jackson said...

Yes... Motivational speakers make all the people happy by entertaining everyone. These people are more valuable because they will provide us fun at the same time this happiness leads to the good health.