5 Lessons Standup Comedians Can Teach You About Public Speaking


If you want to improve your public speaking, there is no better place to look than the world of standup comedy.

A good comedian is a master of public speaking. Not only do they have to be confident and comfortable on stage, but they are expected to be humorous and entertaining as well. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “No one is more judged in civilized society than a standup comedian. Every 12 seconds you’re rated.”

Standup comedy is one of the most difficult professions to be successful at. They have to face tremendous amounts of failure and embarrassment before they can get to where they are. And there is nothing more humiliating than “bombing” in front of an audience, where every joke lands flat and everyone is left staring at you blankly as you try to squeeze out a few laughs.

In the new book Do You Talk Funny? 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker, David Nihill enters the world of standup comedy and discovers key lessons that anyone can use to improve their public speaking.

Whether you’re giving a public presentation to a business, school, or government organization, there is a lot you can learn from standup comedy. And learning these skills can really take your speaking ability to the next level.

Unlike a comedian, most public speakers aren’t expected to be very funny or entertaining. But even adding just a little bit of humor to your presentation will make you stand out from the crowd and become more memorable.

Here are a few key lessons we can learn from standup comedians on how to improve our public speaking abilities.

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7 Mind-Dissecting Questions to Help Others Get to the Root of Any Problem

People ask us for help all of the time – maybe you’re a therapist helping a patient, or a manager dealing with a coworker, or a teacher aiding a student.

When put in these types of positions, your goal is to get to the root of what another person needs from you and to address that problem as clearly and effectively as possible.

To get to the root of what someone needs from you, you need to know how to ask the right questions. The right question can often cut through any distractions or muddiness and bring you to the core of a situation or problem.

In the new book The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, & Change the Way You Lead Forever, Michael Bungay Stanier shares his top seven questions for becoming a better leader and coach. He teaches you helpful techniques on how to accomplish more in your daily conversations by saying less.

The key to any good leadership (or any type of communication) isn’t to give elongated speeches filled with wondrous advice and insights, but to instead ask “mind-dissecting” questions that help you uncover exactly what it is someone needs from you and how you can provide that.

Throughout this article, I will share these 7 simple questions mentioned in the book and why they can be so effective no matter what type of leader you are. In fact, these aren’t just good questions for becoming a better coach, they are actually good questions to improve any type of conversation that is centered around fixing a problem.

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Why No One is Normal And How to Focus On Individual Uniqueness


What does it mean to be normal? What does it mean to be average?

According to psychologist Todd Rose in his new book The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness, there’s no such thing as “normal” or “average.” Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and we are all best defined by our individuality.

Throughout the book he does a wonderful job dispelling the myth of “normal” and showing how we can begin to see people more as individuals rather than compare and measure people against some fictional average that never truly captures who we really are.

    “The central premise of this book is deceptively simple: no one is average. Not you. Not your kids. Not your coworkers, or your students, or your spouse. This isn’t empty encouragement or hollow sloganeering. This is a scientific fact with enormous practical consequences that you cannot afford to ignore.”

Our society is very ingrained to think about everything in terms of what is “normal.” We then see anyone who deviates from this label as somehow dysfunctional or different. But we are all different in our own way. Even when we do define what counts as “normal,” it’s very rare that anyone actually fits this description.

Being “normal” is rare. Being “different” is common. This is a fundamental truth about human nature and its infinite variability. I’ll begin this article by showing you how the idea of “normal” is a red herring and then I’ll show you how we can begin to view people as individuals by following three simple principles.

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Undeniable Presence: How to Create a Powerful Aura Around Yourself


What does it mean when someone has a “presence” or “aura” about themselves – when someone walks into a room and they just ooze confidence, enthusiasm, and self-assurance?

This type of person often doesn’t even have to say anything or do anything special, yet they automatically draw attention from whomever they are near. We find ourselves thinking, “There is just something about that person, but I can’t explain it!”

In Presence: Bring Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, psychologist Amy Cuddy does a wonderful job explaining this phenomenon and how we can bring it out in ourselves.

“Presence” – like aura – is a form of personal power. Ultimately, it comes down to how you carry yourself and the atmosphere you bring with you wherever you go. It stems from truly knowing yourself, believing in yourself, and trusting yourself in the moment.

Many people try to fake confidence or enthusiasm by self-consciously changing themselves. We learn about confident and dominant body language, so we try to mimic it during a date, job interview, or public presentation.

However, “faking confidence” in this way can often backfire on us. People are good at detecting inauthenticity, so when they see someone puffing up their chest and standing up as straight as a board, we easily discover this person is trying to portray something that they aren’t.

Presence is effortless. It doesn’t require acting or forcing ourselves to be something we’re not. In fact, it’s precisely that type of endless self-monitoring that takes us out of the moment and makes us appear phony, manipulative, or foolish.

Presence allows you to tap into inner resources you already have – it brings out your best and most sincere self. It creates a powerful aura around you that anyone can pick up on.

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How We’ve Lost Our Tribal Mentality – And Why it Hurts Us As A Society

tribal mentality

What is a tribe?

A tribe is a group of people that care for each other and look out for each other no matter what. They are bonded by a strong sense of shared values, meaning, and purpose in life. In most cases, they are even willing to fight and die for each other.

In the new book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, journalist Sebastian Junger shares his experiences and research on what it means to be a part of a tribe. The book shows how we’ve lost our tribal mentality and this is greatly hurting our ability to find happiness and meaning as a people.

The book opens by describing how before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin noticed a strange phenomenon between English settlers and American Indians. There were many cases where English settlers would voluntarily join the tribes of American Indians, but very few where the reverse would happen. Even when settlers were kidnapped by American Indians, they would sometimes refuse to be returned to their settlements when given the opportunity to escape.

Why did many choose to stay with the American Indians, despite their lack of technology and modern day civilization? Franklin theorized that it had to do with their tribal mentality and their strong sense of belonging built into their way of life. He knew that if American society was going to persist, it needed to somehow adopt a similar tribal mentality and sense of unity.

While Sebastian Junger makes it clear that we shouldn’t romanticize the American Indians’ way of life (and they were certainly far from perfect), this difference touches on a fundamental human need that has very much been lost in modern day civilization.

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