Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Presentation Skills and Tips - Timing

Timing is one of the most important aspects of humor and Wake em Up presenting. Not only is timing involved in an individual piece of humor, it is also involved in the placement of that piece of humor in the overall presentation. Timing is also involved in spontaneous reactions to "expected" unexpected developments during the presentation.

Jack Benny said, "Timing is not so much knowing when to speak, but knowing when to pause." He should know, because he delivered one of the funniest and most famous lines in the history of comedy after an extremely long pause. He was being held up by a robber at gunpoint. The robber said, "Your money or your life!" Jack did not say a word for an extended period of time. The robber became impatient and said, "YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE!!" Jack finally replied, "Im thinking." His persona as a cheapskate, coupled with a long pause indicating he was having trouble deciding whether to give up his money or die was hilarious. A pause lets the audience catch up and draw pictures in their mind. It is the audience's signal to imagine.

In joke telling, a pause just before and just after your punch line sets it apart from the setup of the joke and gives the audience a chance to laugh. Absolutely do not continue to talk when laughter is expected. Laughter is hard to get and easy to discourage. Hold eye contact a little bit longer than you think you should when delivering punch lines because time is hard to judge when you are pumped-up for a presentation.

The size of your audience will affect your timing. Your presentation will take less time to deliver to smaller audiences. Smaller audiences should mean quicker laughter. Conversely, presentations will take longer for extremely large crowds. Your pauses will be longer to compensate for the wave effect created because of the physical distance between you and the back row of the audience. (Ref: Wake em Up Business Presentations Page 89)

"In Wake em Up, Tom Antion teaches us how to get our message across, do it with humor, and keep the audience awake all at the same time. That is great, although I have learned through experience that when I am not doing 1 and 2, I prefer that the audience doze off. It makes my getaway easier."
- Gene Perret, Author and head comedy writer for Bob Hope

What do the most successful public speakers know?