Thursday, April 19, 2012

Humor Spotlight: Learning from Brad Montgomery

April is Humor Month here in Speak & Deliver, so when I found out I'd have the opportunity to see Brad Montgomery "Funny Motivational Speaker and Meeting Energizer" speak for free, I jumped at it! Arapahoe Sales Pros brought him in to speak for their 42nd anniversary - the same group I got to speak for about six weeks ago (does that mean we shared the same stage? no - unless you're a truly slimy marketer).

He did a spectacular job in the 30 or so minutes he spoke, and gave me permission to share a few of his humor techniques I observed with all of you...

Scatter-Shot Speaking - Brad speaks a mile-a-minute, but was never too fast to be understood. The speed made his humor all the more humorous, because he wasn't sitting on any lines 'expecting' laughter, and he was able to quickly string together quip after quip. His rhythm seemed to mimic a comedian more than a keynoter, but his overall content was still keynote quality.

While you don't want to adopt a style that isn't your own, be aware of how your cadence affects how your message is received - and practice speeding up and slowing down during different parts of your presentation, based on the nature of your content.

Voices - Brad used several voices, from a southern accent to a serious 'boss-like' tone to a 'silly dumb guy' voice that all added to the humor in what he was saying, while simultaneously giving us a clearer picture of the situations he was discussing. At one point he even went into 'Yoda' mode, putting his hands on top of his head to form the long pointy ears of the legend living in a galaxy far, far away.

Magic - This is a talent I have seen many successful speakers use, to make both serious and humorous points. Today Brad targeted TSA, illustrating the game he plays (or says he plays) with agents searching through the mysterious and magical contents of his bag. No spoilers here, but he created quite the laugh to open his speech with this technique.

Magic might not be your forte, but consider visiting a local magic shop and learning a trick or two. You never know when the moment will be just right for you to pull a rabbit out of your hat!

Absurdity/Exaggeration - a staple of humor for speakers, he used this to contrast examples of the types of people in the workplace, at one point suggesting no one actually chooses to suck fellow employees into the vortex of despair and depression. Clearly, he hasn't worked at the jobs I have...

Observational Humor - perhaps his most powerful technique of all. The meeting is a networking function, and about 30 of us introduced ourselves and what we did before he spoke. I didn't see him taking actual notes, but he drew a tremendous amount of humor from what many of the members said.

Example: a charter member talked about how he never wears the same shirt when he teaches, leading Brad to comment on how massive his closet must be, followed by a suggestion that he team up with an organizer and a carpenter in the room to expand the one he has. Later in the meeting, he questioned the man's willingness to admit he'd had nothing to do on Thursday mornings for 42 years (charter member)!

These lines and the zingers Brad threw out at many of the others were all said in fun and delight, and received as such. They also provided a wonderful connection between him and his audience - instead offering a 'canned' speech, he paid attention to his audience, showing both respect and interest, and earning it back in spades.
Overall, Brad average a laugh every 90 seconds, called out almost of third of the group in one way or another, provided a non-intrusive plug for his book, "Humor Us", thanked the people who brought him in without wasting our time, and left the group feeling good about him because he made them (and me) feel good about themselves.

If you ever get a chance to see Brad - take it. I learned (and was reminded of) a lot from him in just 30 minutes. As a student of speaking, do everything you can to study those that are doing what you want to do - it can be both educational and encouraging, if you're willing to soak in the experience.

Thanks Brad, for making the meeting this morning a great success, and giving me great tips to help my audience Speak... & Deliver

Bonus - watch the video below to see Brad in action, and how he customizes to a high-degree. Are YOU paying attention to your audience, both before and during your presentation?

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