(And a technique you can steal!)
A while back I did my humorist motivational speaker thing for an awesome group of tax preparers in Augusta, Georgia. (Three days later we did the same event in Las Vegas.) My client, TAX SLAYER software was terrific, and the audience was totally responsive. It was really fun.
But one of the most interesting things happened BEFORE I went on. I was to follow a presentation by a pair of “banking speakers.” (His name is Ray VandeWater, and he’s a big cheese at Chase Bank, and he worked with his business partner, Cindy.) Oh great…. I was to follow what was surely to be an incredible boring program.
But I was wrong…they were terrific. Engaging, personal, authentic and entertaining.
They used a humor technique that anybody could use to great effect, and I’ll share it with you (with their permission.)
Before I tell you their technique, let me tell you that there was a senior speaker who was assisted by his partner. It was to be a team presentation. The opener went something like this:
Ray VandeWater: “Well, after looking over the evaluations from the last time we gave this presentation, just let me tell you that apparently many of you are confused as to which one of us is which. Cindy is the short blond woman who defines grace, wits and beauty. I’m the old, tall, bald guy.
“The reason I point this out, is that apparently our last audience got the two of us confused. Here, let me read a couple of comments from the evaluations they filled out after our program:
“It was great to have Cindy around when Ray got a bit fuzzy on the facts.”
“Here’s another: Cindy’s upbeat and engaging personality really helped make the presentation fun”
“And further proof that they got us confused: ‘Chase Bank should consider having Cindy as their sole presenter… she doesn’t need her partner.”‘
“Now you know what I mean when I say that apparently the two of us are easy to confuse.”
What was the result? The audience laughed. And laughed some more. It was the perfect sort of self deprecating humor that made the senior speaker look really good. Instead of coming on reciting his credentials and experience, he made fun of himself.
Now imagine the approach he could have taken. He could have had an overblown intro talking about his advanced degrees, his expertise, and generally how big a deal he is. Then he could have entered with some sort of joke he got from the internet. And then launched into what was — in effect — a sales pitch. The result from that approach would have been totally different. He would not have connected to the audience. He would have been WAY less successful as a speaker.
Heard the old cliche about people buying from people they like? Yup…and guess what? The audience LOVED this banker. And so what follows? You bet. He does a ton of business with his audiences.
Think humor has an important role in business? Me too.
Thanks Ray. It was a pleasure sharing the platform with you.
Learn more about my executive humor coaching & speeches.