In my early twenties, I spent a few years performing stand up comedy. To this day, I still tell people I was a professional comedian. 50 bucks for 8 minutes of jokes counts as professional, right? I’m going to assume anyone reading this works in some form of marketing. Do comedians have LinkedIn? So maybe you don’t know that wrench in your gut feeling of bombing a joke in front of hundreds of people, but what you probably can relate to is a pitch proposal gone wrong – your ideas didn’t connect.
In both outcomes, regardless of industry, the process is the same. Weeks of hard work, writing, rewriting and late night brainstorms. The perfect joke or idea can sound great in your head, but unless it’s presented in the right way, you risk your audience or client not understanding it the way you intended.
The parallels of experiential marketing and stand up comedy may not seem obvious at first, but in the end we’re all storytellers. The job of a comedian is to tell a story that emotionally makes the audience laugh. The job of an experiential marketer is to tell a story (on behalf of a brand) that humanistically resonates with consumers.
The most successful comics are known for their perfect delivery, style and timing. In simple terms, the more you practice and rehearse what you’re going to say, the better reaction you will get. As marketers, do we put in the same amount of time into our presentation skills as as we do on our creative concepting? We should learn to.
This calls for some hard facts about the way we pitch our ideas
- There’s too much emphasis on the presentation (colors, fonts, etc…)
- Not enough emphasis on how we actually communicate our ideas as human beings
I believe the best way to tell any kind of story is in person. Whether it’s pitching a million dollar idea or getting a cheap laugh, human interaction is key. Pitching is storytelling! To improve it, marketers should follow these 5 tactics stand up comedians employ.
1) Practice Makes Perfect
I used to stand in front of a mirror and practice my routine. The same should be done for pitch presentations. Too busy? How about practicing on a walk or driving to work?
2) Be Shocking & Unique
Comedians are so good because they’re able to add personal twists to ordinary topics which forces the audience to see the subject in a completely new light. Presentations are the perfect opportunity to go beyond the idea and show off your own personal touch. Incorporate how the idea was brainstormed or the inspiration behind it. It lends personal credibility to your process.
3) Start With Your Best Joke
The first rule of comedy is to start with your best material, otherwise, risk losing the audience’ attention. If you’re not a comedian, learn the formula of joke writing and incorporate them into your pitch. The easiest way to get people to loosen up is to make fun of yourself. I once pitched an experiential concept for a brand of women’s clothing. I was a 26 year old male, the jokes practically wrote themselves!
4) The Call Back
Comedians often end their routine with a call back – where they reference something funny that was said in the beginning of the act. Marketers should follow this tactic. After presenting, formulate a strong closing sentiment that explains how your ideas relate into your team’s strategy, cultural insights and research.
5) The Art Of Misdirection
The great thing about marketing presentations versus stand up comedy is that the audience can be misled into a funny line way easier! This is due to the boring presentations your client has been subjected to in the workplace. They’re not suspecting anything funny, and marketers can use this in pitches to their advantage!
Of course, winning a proposal always comes down to the idea. Sometimes you just have the perfect one! For the times you don’t, I’d rather be remembered as funny and entertaining than boring and not creative.