Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do I make myself clear? - pt. 1 - pace


It's nigh on impossible to deliver a successful speech if people don't understand what you are saying and are straining to hear/understand you (I invite you to picture their squinting, confused faces) In addition your crowd will certainly not be put into a mindset that is favourable to you if you put them in this position. All the effort put into mastering your subject and organizing your materials will be wasted. There are several factors that can contribute to your clarity in a presentation but I would like to focus on jut one at the moment: pace.

Speaking too quickly is a fault that is not limited to people who are feeling nervous and pressured. Even the most relaxed and confident speakers can fall into it's trap, in fact, sometimes it is their relaxed nature that gets them into trouble. The relaxed speaker can have the habit of speaking as they would in casual conversation and social speech and presentation speech are related but they are not identical twins by any means. When you are speaking to somebody one-on-one you are very aware of the exact level of attention that you are recieving and it is generally fairly high. As a result you can still be well understood even if you speak more quickly, and in a manner that is generally more slack in it's tones, shifts and emphasis (more on those in the next blog-post). If the same technique is employed with a large group of people the results will often be less than satisfactory because you are dealing with varying levels of attention and comprehension. Then, of course, there is the tense, speaker whose nervous energy inevitably manifests itself in a quicker pace, which in turn makes the speech that much more difficult to deliver.

Now, I can hear you saying (at a moderate pace) "well then, I guess it's a good idea to slow down a little", but unfortunately that does not sum up the solution, only the idea behind it. If you know that you have a speed problem you can simply tell yourself to slow down when delivering a speech, but this probably won't be much help. Typically what happens is that people in this situation begin at a good pace but then "forget to remember" to slow down, or lose track of where they are for a moment which increases their level of stress and speeds them up. When their pace starts picking up they notice the increase and that is, in itself, stressfull, which causes them to speed up and the ugly cycle continues it's merry spin.

The problem lies in the fact that "slowing down" is just an idea and people need something more tangible and immediate to help them. If there was a screen in front of you that had your words per minute rate on it, that would be likely do the trick but I don't foresee the installation of such screens in conference rooms any time soon. Fortunately there is an internal method that you can use that is even more effective and far more portable. The trick is to enunciate just a little bit more than you do in casual speech - it's that easy. Now, this has to be done within limits. You don't want to sound like Captain Picard at every meeting. What makes enunciation different from simply telling yourself to slow down is the fact that enunciation is something that you can actually feel: it is physical. The way you shape and move your mouth is altered when you enunciate. Your mouth can set itself to work in a specific way and your mind knows exactly what this way is through physical memory.

Try it the next time you speak. Just give a pinch more enuciation as you go through your speech and you will see how it slows your pace. In fact try it right now......try at this very moment to say this sentence really quickly and with profound enunciation..... I think you will see (and hear) my point; your pace is naturally slowed. The obvious benefit that occurs along with the slackening of pace is the fact that you are actually saying each word more clearly when you enunciate, so ironically, if you want to speak more clearly you should speak more clearly. Have I made myself clear?


www.laughlearnlead.com
http://twitter.com/chrismolineux

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Down with "success-speak"


Much of the coaching I do involves helping people to learn skills and techniques to help them improve as public speakers but sometimes it happens that unlearning things shows itself to be more of a challenge than learning them. Let me explain.

There are a vast array of products and services available to people who wish to improve their public speaking ability and many of them are very good - I offer a heartfelt thanks to all those people who provide them. Much of what is available, however, is limited, misguided or flat-out bad. The main complaint I have to lodge is that these products and services create a style of presentation that while, efficient and practical, is ultimately empty and inhuman; a kind of "success-speak". This style of speaking lies somewhere between a radio dj and the stereotype of a used-car salesperson. These people know how to engage a crowd, how to put their points across and are frequently successful in business as a result. The question you might well ask is, "if it works, why do you have a problem with it?"

Alright, let's cut right to the chase. I do not coach people to help them earn more money, I coach them to give them a better understanding of what factors define the way they put together ideas and express them and then help them to take control of those factors and become better communicators. If they choose to use this power of expression to earn more money, which they certainly can, that's fine, if not, that's fine too. There are many other avenues they could explore relating to their creative aspirations and personal life as well. In fact, it may just be that by becoming a better communicator you will finally have the ability to express the fact that you truly hate the life that you live with your high paying job.

Going back to my original point of "unlearning"; I find it is often far more difficult to get people to drop the robotic "success-speak" habits than to teach them new information. A good rule to remember for most situations is to make sure that your speaking style is not that different from the way you would speak privately to good friends, not in content, but in tone and sincerity. We have enough technology to master in our lives without turning ourselves into robots so down with "success-speak" and up with the expressive person you really are.

www.laughlearnlead.com
http://twitter.com/chrismolineux

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Too casual or not too casual?

One of the greatest gifts that a speaker can possess is to be themselves; to speak in their own voice without being burdened by a constructed or artificial style. For some people this comes naturally, for others it takes time to define and learn to control the factors that define how the construct and deliver a speech. One interesting problem that I sometimes see is people who are comfortable and relaxed when they speak but so much so, it has actually created problems for them. What I’d like to do is briefly examine some of the advantages and disadvantages of using a casual style when public speaking.

THE ADVANTAGES:

The advantages of a casual style of speaking are fairly well documented and many people spend a great deal of time trying to perfect this approach.

A casual style:

1 - shows that you are comfortable and relaxed and puts your audience at ease.

2 - allows you to communicate in a genuine manner

3 - can help to diffuse tension and/or discontent in your audience

4 - means that the crowd feels as though they are listening to a real person and not just a factoid pitchperson

THE DISADVANTAGES:

The disadvantages vary from person to person depending on how they demonstrate a “casual” style but here are just a few possible pitfalls.

A casual style:

1 - can often be delivered in a manner of speech that’s slightly faster and looser – and therefore content and emphasis can be lost.

2 - often ignores important devices that can be used to make your point – (eg: repetition, lists etc.)

3 - can cause you to lose your sense of authority. While you seldom want to push a crowd around, you do want to put across that you are an authority on your subject.

4 - can lead people to misinterpret your opinions or emotions. Sometimes people will see a casual attitude as one belonging to someone who does not really care about their topic.

In the end it is important to remember that while your audience does want to see “the real you” they also want to hear a well delivered speech so there is far more too it than just settling in and getting comfortable. Getting the full benefit from a more casual approach can only be achieved if you are meeting the broader objectives of your presentation so bear them in mind and try to maintain the best balance possible.

Thanks – let me know if you have any questions and …. stay loose,

Christopher

n.b. – my new speaker coaching website is now up at: http://www.laughlearnlead.com/

http://twitter.com/chrismolineux

Monday, June 1, 2009

End your fear of public speaking - part 3 - memory


Memorizing your material is one of those obstacles that simply cannot be avoided without actually reading it directly from the page or screen but there are ways of making the process a little easier. How easy or difficult a speech is to remember often has a great deal to do with the methods that have been used to put it together. As was mentioned in the previous blog "End your fear of public speaking - Part 2 – “Tricks”"


determining and using the connections to the material that you have and the style that fits you best will help you to recall things more easily. In particular the use of the experiential is a tool of memory - telling stories and relating characters. People who have greater difficulty with memory-work are well advised to lean on this style of speaking because it involves recollection rather than remembering. You are not learning something new, you are merely relating something that you aleady know and have simply put into a specific context to make the points you need to make. I have done quite a bit of work with people with different cognitive impairments including ADHD (ADD) who have struggled with memory work, especially in a logical framework, but can tell stories with great ease.

Aside from this stylistic angle there are some specific tactics that you can employ that can be very helpful:

1 - Audio recordings   
                                    Recording yourself practicing a speech and then listening to the recording is also an effective aid to memory. The recording is remembered in a completely different way than the written words and this will also give a sense of which words and phrases are most effective, how your voice sounds, and if your points are being made clearly. Digital audio recorders are readily available, small, cheap and easy to use, take advantage of them. Once you have the recorder you can then use it to record the speeches that you make which is useful to continue to improve the speech and sharpen your skills in general.

2: Conversation 
                             You can also take parts of your speech out for a walk before you actually deliver the speech, meaning, try to weave some of it into some kind of conversation. I realize that this isn't always possible if you deal with highly technical subjects and such, but often it is possible and you should try it. It helps to get you more comfortable speaking on the subject, delivering specific lines/ideas and also gives you some insight into how they might be received. This will help to give your speech a more natural and less "written" style and there is also the additional benefit of hearing other peoples opinions of the topic -  you may even get some new phrases or ideas from them.

3: Reference card    
                              Having a full copy of your speech is a good idea for most people but trying to actually remember it word for word can be torture. It's a good idea to become really familiar with the speech as a whole and then get a cue card and write down a list of the main points in the correct order. If you can memorize that list then even if you lose your way and forget a sentence or two you will never actually be lost, and it's not that hard to remember a list of a dozen or so words. If you want you can write the "bow tie" that was discussed in the previous blog down on a second card. These two cards have all the most important information - you can carry them in your back pocket and refresh your memory at any time.

I hope you find these tips helpful - please let me know if you have any questions and, while we are on the subject of memory, please don't forget that I am always happy to shop up and do keynotes/workshops for your event and I can do coaching for anyone,anywhere by reviewing your video footage and script(s)


                                                     www.laughlearnlead.com
                                               http://twitter.com/chrismolineux

Monday, May 18, 2009

When does "competent" become an insult?

Thanks for the feedback on my series on the fear of public speaking, I have just completed the first volume an audio series "Ending your fear of public speaking" which will be for sale on my site and on itunes soon. This last weekend I did a keynote and two workshops for the Toastmasters district 21 conference in Whistler B.C. and I have been asked to train the Coca Cola team that will accompany the Olympic torch in 2010, so life is busy.I will continue with my series on eliminating the fear of public speaking shortly but would like to do something a little more interactive right now and hear some of your opinions.

  Practicing a speech is often a good idea but it is difficult to enjoy a speech that sounds practiced. This is also true with different strategies and techniques that are used within a speech. I sometimes see people deliver speeches that are very tight and well packaged and follow a lot of the book advice that is out there but far from being impressed, I'm actually put off. I would rather see someone fumble through their content, but in a very genuine way. 

So at what point is it that compentence becomes a liability and all those skill sets and methods hold you down instead of building you up? I'd like to know your opinions and hear your stories on the subject. 

Thanks! Chris

                                                                www.laughlearnlead.com
                                                           http://twitter.com/chrismolineux
                                                                  

  

Sunday, May 10, 2009

End your fear of public speaking - Part 2 – “Tricks”


   In the last blog I covered some of the things to consider before you even start writing your speech – things that will help you to determine how to write a speech that will really suit your own style and personality and…..be easy to remember. One thing that was covered was the fact that it is important to define the points that you need to make - I’d now like to move on to a few simple tricks that you can use when you are actually writing a speech that will help make those points clearer, stronger and yes…. easier to remember. The idea is to make a speech that you really connect with so you have greater confidence in it, can deliver it with conviction and can retain and relate it with ease.

 

 It is interesting to note that I use the term “easy to remember”. There is single word that can be used instead of a phrase: memorable, but memorable seems to have a different connotation that “easy to remember”. Memorable seems to refer to the point of view of the listener while easy to remember refers to the person delivering the speech. There is a value to be gained from the association between the two. While a speech that is easy to remember may not necessarily be memorable, a memorable speech is usually easy to remember and if you design your speech to be memorable you’ll have an easier time remembering it. It’s a win in two directions.

 

Trick #1 – Points and Themes

                                                     While this may sound like basic structure rather than a trick but the trick lies in not in the use but the emphasis - pay real attention to the points and themes in your speech and then push them when you are actually delivering the speech. At all times your audience is asking, consciously or sub-consciously “what’s your point?”  So make sure you always let them know what your point is. If you are giving out a long list of facts, or telling a long story, tell them why. A theme is basically a substructure that can contain one or many points. Some types of themes include:

 

a)      Analogies –  great for providing clarity and a fresh perspective

b)      Stories – good for engaging crowds and giving context

c)      Referring to characters – not for everybody, but this can be very effective

d)      Catch-phrases  - a perennial favourite for good reason

e)      Summarized ideas – e.g.: things run in cycles

 

 

Trick #2 Repetition

                                  At first it might seem like repetition is something you should avoid in a speech. You don’t want to sound like you are just repeating yourself over and over, or appear as though you forgot that you just said the same thing a moment ago. Repetition, when it’s used deliberately can be very useful. Think of some of the most famous speeches in history, most of them relied heavily on repetition.

 

“ We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them with growing strength and growing confidence in the air, we will fight them in the fields and in the hills ……”

 

Identify some of the places in your speech that really deserve emphasis and then determine which word or phrase to repeat. Sometimes you can go one step further with this and use trick #3.

                                 

 

Trick #3  Catch-phrases and monikers

                                                                   Aside from providing structure for themes catch phrases are great things to use in general. They stick in peoples minds, lend themselves to repetition and can also provide a pinch of humour every now and then. You don’t have to be any great wordsmith to come up with a catch phrase, don’t be afraid to use something that’s well known, (use it or lose it, let sleeping dogs lie etc.) the cliché is permissible when used as a catch phrase to put a point across and if you have followed the advice in the previous blog you will have a genuine connection with your material which is the most important thing. Having said that, if you can create something really original, even better… go for it. A moniker similar to a catch phrase but is a substitute name for something. You might not use the word moniker but you use monikers – “the head honcho” is a moniker. A good moniker can be memorable and also sum up the essence of something

 

Trick #4 – The Bow-tie

                                        The bow-tie refers to the summary that occurs at the end of a speech that brings together all the main points that you want to leave your audience with. It should be more than just a summary though. Really pay attention and put some extra effort into crafting this section because it will serve not only as a reminder to your audience of all your main points but also as a reminder to you. When you are practising your speech make specific reference to really remembering this section because if you have that solidly in your mind you can always refer to it and it will connect you with all the most important parts of your speech. A good bow-tie is also advisable because it gives some polish to a speech and can make you look like a real pro – at the crucial point, right at the end.

 

These are just a few ideas to take note of. They may just sound like common sense but pay attention to them and they will pay real dividends providing you with a presentation that is both memorable and….. easy to remember.

                www.laughlearnlead.com

                                http://twitter.com/chrismolineux 

Monday, May 4, 2009

End your fear of public speaking – part 1

I had quite a bit of interest in my blogpost "The imaginary fear of public speaking" where I addressed the subject in a general way.I would now like to start a series that covers some practical solutions to this all too common concern.

 

One of the greatest fears that people have regarding speaking in public is forgetting what they are going to say. To be standing up in front of a group of people and not having a clue what the next word, the next sentence, the next idea, is supposed to be. Just standing there silent and frozen …… nobody wants that. The standard method people have to deal with this is to write their script and then try desperately to remember it word for word. This process is often a real trial and made all the more difficult by not considering certain aspects of the way that the speech has been put together. There a few simple strategies that will help you produce a speech that is easier to remember and truer to your own personality and views.

 

There are two sources of knowledge that you can draw on to ensure that you are never lost in the middle of a speech: knowledge of the material and knowledge of the script.

While I can’t teach you how to improve the knowledge of your material I can point out that understanding the nature of your knowledge of the material will help you with the process of writing and delivery. The first step of this process is all about defining your connection with the material. Some people are fortunate enough to speak about subjects that feel truly passionate about, but not all of us are that lucky. Quite often we find ourselves speaking about dry subjects that we are sick of hearing about ourselves. To a certain degree it’s unavoidable, but you can make the best of a bad situation.

 

Start of by clearly defining the exact information that must be put across and the exact message(s) that this information is intended to convey. Strip it down to the essentials and if you are still information heavy, consider transferring some of the details to powerpoint or printed material that your audience has at their table. Once this is done you should then think about the connection(s) that you have with the material at hand.

 

a)      Is there an underlying idea or concept behind the information that you can point out, sum up or even attach a catchphrase to? If so, write it down and then harness that potential in your speech. Repetition of main points and the use of monikers and catch-phrases make material more memorable to both you and your audience.

 

b)      Are there aspects of it that you feel more strongly about? Even the driest subjects usually involve some emotional content, even if it is just feeling passionate about an idea or technology involved. Some people communicate very well by drawing on their emotional attachments to a subject, if you feel you are one of those people then summarize your emotional attachment to the material and bear it in mind while you are writing your presentation.

 

 

c)       Have you had experiences that relate to the ideas and subjects at hand? If so, consider using them. People have a natural tendency to organize a speech with a purely logical framework: get the information/ideas – explain them logically to the audience. The problem with this is, that not all people communicate most effectively in a logical framework. Some people relate things well through experience which can involve telling stories, or referring to characters. When relating stories, make sure to be careful to stay very close to the point you are trying to make – is it relevant or is it gone – but consider the use of stories/experiences. Think about whether you like relate to things through stories when talking to friends, if you do, then consider how to use this in your presentations. Define your strengths and work with them.

 

These is just a rough outline of a few beginning steps – I will be back with more on the blog soon, and I am always more than happy to work with individuals or groups in greater detail – stay in touch and …. thanks!

                 www.laughlearnlead.com

                 http://twitter.com/chrismolineux

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How comedy can change your life ...... episode 3


I ended the last blogpost by mentioning that I provide the participants in the workshop with a series of questions and get them to present the answers so I can find out more about them and observe how they assemble and communicate their ideas. I typically ask about 8 questions which are taken from a wide selection that I am always adding to. The questions are not of a skill testing nature; there are no wrong answers and there is little preparation required.

 

 Some of the questions ask for direct information about the person:

 

 “What nicknames have you had and what is the story behind them”

 

Some of the questions are more abstracted:

 

“What inanimate object would you most like to be”

 

Some of the questions are designed to elicit attitudes and opinions:

 

“What’s the most frustrating thing about the modern world”

 

 

The answers are to be presented rather than simply read out. While no-one is expected to turn the presentation into a full-blown comedy extravaganza there should be a little verve put into it, all depending, of course, on the personality of the person who is answering the questions. In some cases the raw information given with each answer is of value, and sometimes the method of construction and/or the style of delivery is more important. While there is too much involved this process to give a complete summary of it here, I will use the three cited questions to help give you some idea of what can be involved.

 

“What nicknames have you had and what is the story behind them”

 

The answers given to this question sometimes relate only to simple rhyming words but more frequently they will give information about the person’s personality and/or interests, how other people perceive them, and their reactions to that perception. Nicknames can sometimes be indicative of another side of someone’s personality and background, and having a group share nicknames, not only brings them greater understanding and familiarity, but it often has an amusing side as well.

 

“What inanimate object would you most like to be”

 

This is a much more psychologically driven question. Some of the most typical answer categories are:

1 - the kinaesthetic: a bean-bag chair, a pillow

 

2 - the logical: a satellite, a television (“so people want to see me and I can be entertaining and different all the time”)

3 – the sexual: a bra, Mel Gibsons saddle

4 – the poetic: a rock, a tree

 

This is a very short list of possible types of responses and the answers to this question are unavoidably revealing of a person’s character and the nature of their value systems. This is directly relevant to the way they construct ideas and speech. Someone who is very logical will relate very differently to a subject than someone who is very poetic and/or kinaesthetic etc. etc..

 

“What’s the most frustrating thing about the modern world”

 

This is a question that revolves around emotion and it gives people a chance to show how they express emotion. Some people are frustrated about ideological things, others are frustrated by very specific things. Some people will relate to actual events, some will be very impassioned and others very logical and, ironically, almost devoid of what one would call “frustration”. Emotional content can be a defining and powerful aspect in communication skills and comedy in particular. Attitude and emotion can create comedy with very little script and knowing how people deliver emotional content gives a clearer picture of what type of comedy someone may be suited to writing and presenting.

 

 

 

There are many other questions which intended to shine a light in many directions. After seeing the answers to a series of questions delivered I can determine what type of constructions and deliveries people are most inclined towards. Some should write construct things logically – idea based comedy full of observations and examples. Some should relate things through experiences and characters. Some should use emotion, some should use abstraction and often people will have a blend of many things.

 

Aside from what is gleaned from the content, there is also the more basic analysis of the way each person moves, uses facial expressions, how they use their voice, noticing if they relate to things through story and/or character, how they make and use eye contact and much more. The factors that make up each persons communication style and technique are numerous, but they can be isolated and identified which helps to show people the tools and traits they are working with. Reading and assessing these characteristics and potentials is, quite honestly, one of the great joys I have in my work. Students can be aware of some of the things that are pointed out but there are always things that are new and surprising to them and seeing people light up from recognizing and understanding these aspects of themselves is both fun and rewarding for myself and the other students.

 

Once this analysis is completed I can guide students as to how to write and present comedy in a way that will suit them and, thus, be more real and effective in front of a crowd. It is fairly self evident how the process I have been outlining translates into better communication/public speaking skills and in some ways the main question that may remain in the mind of the reader is “where’s the funny part?”. The reason that you haven’t been reading a lot of funny examples in this blogpost is because the funny is different for each personality and for each group. The focus is on comedy and it comes out consistently as all the other learning takes place but I can’t relate exactly what it is to you because it is different every time. Humour is the most human of activities and this workshop is intended to examine and enhance this human element which for the benefit the individuals as well as the group.

 

Any questions?


www.laughlearnlead.com

http://twitter.com/chrismolineux


Monday, April 20, 2009

How comedy can change your life (part 2)


To those of you who read part 1, welcome back! To those who have not, please do take a look at that as well, but do feel free to read the second part first.

The comedy workshops that I put on are designed to achieve three main objectives in an enjoyable and engaging way:

1 – To fundamentally improve each participants public speaking skills
2 – To strengthen the bonds and mutual understanding of the group
3 – To enable people to identify and enhance their creative potential

I like to work with groups between 4 and 10 people, so I can really focus on everybody individually. I begin by discussing some basics of comic theory which provides some structure to start de-mystifying what comedy is and shows how humour can be used to illuminate or to obscure. Some of this material examines what stand-up comedy is not.

1 – It is not about trying to make people laugh – comedy should be predicated on you, not the crowd. Define your own sense of humour and figure out how to make the most of it.

2 – It is not about trying to find what is funny – usually comedy material is written about things that interest you for whatever reason……and you learn to make them funny. Nothing stifles comedy creativity faster than “looking for stuff that’s funny”

After this I discuss how to take control of the environments people speak in; covering printed materials, taking control of room layouts, stage setups and introductions

(for more on this see my blogpost: “Before you’ve even said a word” http://psworkbench.blogspot.com/2009/03/before-youve-even-said-word.html )

The issues of making the most of lighting and the advantages that can be gained through understanding sound systems are also given consideration.

After this point the workshop takes on a far more interactive dynamic. The participants answer a series of questions that are given out in advance. The answers are given in a presented format rather than just reading them out. This gives me a chance to find out more about the people involved and see how they present themselves. In this section I am able to find out how people move, how they use expressions and body language and how they actually put their ideas together and express them. Each persons’ presentation is reviewed afterwards by myself and by the others in the group, so the insights that are gained are shared amongst all those involved. It’s also important to remember that this workshop revolves around comedy so the mood is always positive, observational and constructive without a harsh critical edge. Having worked as a comedian for so many years means that even the most involved of subjects is granted levity and this makes for a truly fruitful teaching environment.

What are these questions and what types of things can be learned from the presented answers? Well… that my friend, will be part of what will come to be known as “part 3” – stay tuned and thanks ----- please do feel free to post any comments or questions.

   www.laughlearnlead.com
http://twitter.com/chrismolineux

Sunday, April 12, 2009

How comedy can change your life - (part 1)

Comedy is a mystified thing. When people find out that I teach stand-up, the standard question posed is: can you really do that? It has been said by some that attempting to disassemble and understand comedy is like doing the same with a frog: you cannot capture it's essence and it dies in the process of trying. If that sentiment was originated by a city dweller than it can safely be called an urban myth. While humour is subjective and each individuals' sense of humour unique, it can most certainly be understood and to a great extent defined. I have decided to write this blog-post in order to make clear some of the benefits of understanding how you create and express comedy and how my comedy workshops can be of great value to your company or group.

I began working as a stand-up comedian in 1986, and have had the good fortune to work with people such as Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and Ellen Degeneres and have performed across Canada, the U.S., the Carribbean and the UK. In 1998 I began teaching stand-up and I realized fairly quickly that I was, essentially, teaching people how to put together their ideas and express them in public so I made the transition to coaching people in public speaking, just purely, the art of public speaking. For years people had suggested that I speak on the subject of "humour in the workplace" but I felt no desire to tell people that if they gave their photocopier a name and wore a Hawaiian shirt every third Thursday they would enjoy their soul-draining job. Let it be said that what I do does not fall under the traditional category of  "humour in the workplace". 

The finest joke that humour plays is that is disguises itself as something unimportant; as a joke. It is a most effective disguise, and aside from a handful of theorists and those in the world who simply revel in being positive about everything there are few who gain from the all the value that humour has to offer. Aside the the positive and much publicized effects of laughter and social bonding there is the reality that comedy is an examination, an investigation, a method of understanding the world. If I choose to write a joke about something I am examining the subject in a uniquely personal way and often that examination can yield interesting results. In Arthur Koestler 's outstanding book "The Act of Creation" he draws parallels between scientific discovery, poetic revelation and comic punchline - all three use an original perspective to come to a "eureka!" moment. This point of view flies in the face of comedy as a "joke" and it presents a wealth of opportunities for those willing to take them.

What I am interested in is the idea of getting people to understand and harness this potential for something powerful and productive in life and/or business if indeed, business can be described as something distinct from life. By watching people live and on video I seperate the strands that make up who they are, comedically and in other ways as well, and help to give them a sense of what specifics can be controlled and used to maximum potential. In a group setting there are added benefits that come from  camaraderie and mutual understanding. In the next blogpost I will go into the structure of the comedy workshops that I offer and how they can fit in with and benefit your own situation. In the meantime I welcome any and all questions on the subject ....... hmmmm?

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