In this podcast Byron White, WriterAccess CEO, has an opportunity to connect with David Nihill, and Irish-born comedian and founder of FunnyBizz, a serious firm that shows people how humor can be used, applied and effectively woven into public speaking. It’s a valuable half hour of tips and thoughts that are germane to the challenges every public speaker and writer face trying to generate content that sticks, that is memorable, and that people want to listen to.
David Nihill didn’t actually start out pursuing a comic career. Interestingly, his path was an accident, germinating out of an interest to help a friend fundraise monies to pay for a serious accident injury. Nihill came up with the idea of using comedy to be the attention-getter, and his friends put David in the driver’s seat to then make it happen. Over the years what started as rough comedy became a polished presentation and was genuinely interesting to audiences all over.
From venue halls, comic stages and more Nihill now shares his tips that cross over from the stage to the everyday speaker or writer, gems that make standup comedy so attractive in the first place starting with content generation.
Because genuine, good material is often so hard to come by, David Nihill suggests a far easier method that has worked consistently for him every time: personal experience. With the use of a diary or notebook, a trick for documenting detail, and then crafting it tactfully, David has developed a process for taking ordinary life and producing humorous content again and again, regardless of the topic. Witty observations and writing talent seem like prerequisites for humor, but don’t rely on them, according to David. Funny ideas come from real life and good documentation skills capturing the details.
Another area that fumbles writers and speakers all the time is tact and avoiding the embarrassing statement. David Nihill shares critical but easy to remember rules. Among them are:
- If it’s below the belt line (yes, your waist belt), don’t go there.
- Stop focusing on a target. Instead focus on crafting an interesting story. [Tweet it]
- Avoid targeting people in power; they have a bad habit of getting back at you.
- Using timing effectively and let the story do the work; it’s always far more entertaining than a pie chart.
- “A lot of people will say, ‘My job is too serious to use humor.’ If the president is using humor, you’re probably ok to.”
- “There’s no pressure to be funny, but there is pressure to be engaging.” [Tweet it]
- “If they laugh, great. And if they don’t, well then you just told a story and that’s still a lot more engaging than a pie chart.”
- “If you wanted to start from somewhere, the single biggest thing is…just get a little bit better at really actively looking for and noting and documenting those funny moments that you, yourself, enjoy in life and then work on sharing those with others.”
Experimentation and crafting is often the lifeblood of good speeches and writing with humor. There’s rarely a perfect copy with the first draft. Stories work better and better with practice, seeing how people react, and crafting the right timing and hit points for the funny bits. Don’t be afraid to ruthlessly edit for perfection and always have the funny part as the closer or break point.
Nihill goes into great detail on the above and a lot more, giving valuable tips that every writer and speaker can find some part of to use right away. It’s a podcast worth listening to as a basic primer on how to communicate, no matter what your field. Don’t miss it!
To listen to the podcast, click here.
5-Star writer Tom L brings to customers and clients 17 years of extensive writing and editing experience working in government and producing documentation for public consumption. Additionally, he has spent the last 8 years privately producing written content and analytical products for clients and freelance agencies as well.
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