Read Time: 2 minutes-plus a joke
(seems like a lot of text, but really it’s a lot of examples)
Jokes are awesome
They capture us, hold out the promise of laughter, create an ‘aha’ moment and an escape from the endless ‘To Do’ lists cycling in our overstimulated brains.
Why do we love jokes? Because we are inherently curious. We are riveted to the narrative because something unexpected may happen – and it may even be funny. We pay full attention because if it is funny, then we can repeat it (jokes = social media’s infant stage).
Think about what physically and emotionally happens when we listen to a joke – leaning in – watching the speaker – listening intently – paying attention with our whole being.
Wouldn’t it be great to have this same level of
in a business conversation or
when you’re giving a presentation?
It CAN happen! Here are 3 ways to boost your audience’s attention
But First, Do a Field Test:
(Tell this joke, watch the reaction)
A man hated his wife’s cat and he decided to get rid of it. He drove 20 blocks away from home and dropped the cat there. The cat was already walking up the driveway when he approached his home.
The next day, he decided to drop the cat 40 blocks away but the same thing happened.
He kept on increasing the number of blocks but the cat kept on coming home before him.
At last he decided to drive a few miles away, turn right, then left, past the bridge, then right again and another right and so on until he reached what he thought was a perfect spot and dropped the cat there.
Hours later, the man calls his wife at home and asked her, “Jen is the cat there?” “Yes, why do you ask?” answered the wife.
Frustrated the man said, “Put that cat on the phone, I’m lost and I need directions.”
Figure Out What Worked:
- What did you say to set up the joke?
- When did the audience get really interested?
- Why did they stick with the story?
- How did their physical behavior change – listening, looking, leaning in?
Take what you learned and apply it to these 3 steps
This takes a bit of planning. Nothing turns an audience off faster than a rambling opening. Catch their attention quickly. Give them the subject and what’s in it for them in the first sentence. Get them curious. Reserve the details for the next section.
Joke Example: A man hated his wife’s cat and he decided to get rid of it.
Life Example: ‘Yesterday’s conference was right up your alley’ (rather than ‘I went to this conference yesterday and there was a speaker there who you would have loved’)
(Secret handshake: Capture your audience with a
clear and concise opening that begins with ‘You’ rather than ‘I’)
Keep it Moving
Tell the story and take your audience along. Create a hero, a villain(a villain can be a person, an idea or an issue) and a
conflict with detail. Lead them toward one big reveal or a surprise combination of elements. But don’t give the punchline away just yet…
Joke Example: ‘He kept on increasing the number of blocks but the cat kept on coming home before him. At last he decided to drive a few miles away, turn right, then left, past the bridge, then right again and another right and so on until he reached what he thought was a perfect spot and dropped the cat there’.
Conflict with detail: He kept on increasing the number of blocks but the cat kept on coming home before him…
Life Example: ‘Yesterday’s conference was right up your alley. The keynote talked about recruiting methods to attract talent that is excited about scaling into phase two of a business lifecycle. That is exactly what we talked about at lunch last week. Here are a few of the tactics he suggested (tactics here)… And then he talked about incentive programs for those employees… ‘
Hero: keynote speaker
Conflict with detail: Here are a few of the tactics he suggested (tactics here)… And then he talked about incentive programs for those employees… ‘
Use phrases like ‘And then….’, or ‘There is more…’ to keep the interest level high
Pay it off
Create the lean-in moment. Hold back a last bit of information that ties everything together. Reveal this at the end to keep your audience focused.
Joke Example: Put that cat on the phone, I’m lost and I need directions
Life Example: The most amazing thing he said was that these employees would rather have time off rather than a cash bonus’
Use phrases like ‘This is important because…’, or ‘What is different here…’, or ‘Why this matters…’ to keep their attention until the end.
Set it up, keep it moving, pay it off-
they’ll be hooked ’til the end!
‘A joke is a story with a curlicue’
Coming in April…
We’ll expand these ideas into making successful asks –
for business, for interviews, for resources
I’d love to hear if these ideas were helpful.
Drop a line and let me know
Until next month…