Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Howie Mandel Made Me A Better Speaker !

 Years ago, I had the honor of opening for Howie Mandel at the  
Amphitheater in Pittsburgh’s Station Square. This amphitheater
is probably the most difficult outdoor venue to work in the
country. Usually these types of venues are located in quiet areas
that are conducive to concerts. Not in Pittsburgh. The place is
sandwiched between the Monongahela River and a cliff face. It
gets worse. There’s a busy highway at the foot of the cliff,  and running parallel to the river are two sets of railroad tracks. About every twenty minutes a train rumbles past the stage, maybe fifty feet away at best! Soon after Howie’s limo dropped him off, we were backstage
exchanging pleasantries when a train passed by. I wish I
had had a camera with me to catch the expression on his face.
He looked at me and asked, “These trains will stop, right?” I
shrugged my shoulders. “Not unless there’s a wreck!” Howie
shook his head and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s
going to be going on all night?”So we put our heads together and started tossing ideas around about how we could pull off a show under these circumstances.
We had to go through our material and figure out what
jokes would work and, more importantly, prepare for the pauses
we would have to build into our act whenever a train passed by.
It’s not like you get interrupted for a few seconds—some of the
trains take a minute or two to pass. This will ruin any flow or
momentum you have established as a performer.
Howie, true professional that he is, took what looked like
an impossible situation and made it work. The first time a train
passed, Howie made fun of his agent for booking him in a railyard.
He then went on to poke fun at the engineer and used the
down time to do his trademark rubber glove bit. The show could
have been a disaster, but we focused on adapting our material,
anticipated the problems that would arise, made light of our
predicament, and like the trains, moved on.  Another show comes to mind that illustrates how you cannot prepare for every situation. I was asked to emcee a student-faculty basketball game. My job was to provide running commentary during the game and perform a comedy show at
halftime. I was a few minutes into the halftime program when
a loud buzzer sounded. I didn’t think anything about it until it
happened again. And then again. It was then that I realized that
the student running the scoreboard had taken it upon himself
to sound the buzzer any time he didn’t approve of one of my
jokes. The audience thought it was hilarious. I wanted to choke
the kid. Suppressing the urge to run over and knock him off
his chair, I just went with the flow. The next time he hit the
buzzer, I said, “It’s pretty sad when a buzzer gets more laughs
than the comedian.”
You can control a lot of things, but you can’t control everything.
Be as prepared as you can by expecting the unexpected. Comedians always get the unexpected thats why we prepare for it.  As a speaker you need to prepare for it too. Before you address an audience, imagine some of things that could go wrong and  write some humorous lines around that topic. That way you are ready for the worst that could happen and your response to it will appear confident , witty and spontaneous!                 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Public Speaking Expert....Comedian David Michael...Releases Secrets !

Finally! For the very first time, a professional comedian has written a book that will help you develop public speaking skills, and apply them to your personal communication needs.Jerry Seinfeld said most studies show people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death.This means to the average person, at a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy. With this in mind, David Michael wrote his book because he just can’t take it any more. I have seen so many…important executives who are unable to address an audience effectively, and it drives me nuts! Comedians work at the highest level of public speaking. These skilled communicators must engage their audience within seconds. The feedback is immediate, and when you lose an audience’s attention everyone in the room knows it. David Michael, who majored in Communications at the University of Pittsburgh, takes you inside the greenroom and reveals the techniques that comedians use to communicate, and then demonstrates how to apply them to corporate and public speaking, sales presentations and for other communication functions. Throughout the book, Michael weaves his experiences working with a few of the greatest comedians of our generation and how their advice has helped him to become a more skilled communicator. He relates his encounters with comedians such as Jay Leno, Howie Mandel, Drew Carey, Steve Harvey, Ray Romano, Dennis Miller, Lewis Black, and Tim Allen. Michael’s anecdotes will entertain you as he presents the “secrets of the trade” including: how to focus on the audience, how to work the room, implementing improvisation, the effective use of props, the theory of “less is more” and the MOST IMPORTANT SECRET relating to how the audience was conditioned to learn. Michael is definitely on to something since experts tell us that the current generation likes their learning packaged as entertainment. Some of these techniques are so powerful and so effective that some comedy purists think it’s cheating. For this number one fear that takes control over most of us, Michael prescribes, his number one cure......buy and read   "Secrets from the Greenroom" !