By Hope Katz Gibbs
Truly Amazing Women
The queen of fast talking, Fran Capo, has been doing stand-up comedy for more than 20 years. From performing for Hells Angels and a room full of nuns, to politicians and preachers, CEOs, secretary, PTAs, and Chambers of Commerce — she’s made them all laugh out loud.
But then, the New Yorker is officially the “Fastest Talking Female,” as noted in the “Guinness Book of World Records,” “Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” “Planet Eccentric,” and the “Book of Alternative Records.”
Her schtick and quick wit has landed her gigs at Caroline’s and Dangerfield’s in New York City, the Tropicana in Las Vegas, and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. She has also performed at fundraisers for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Firehouse 9-11, and for Marines stationed in Okinawa.
So we are honored to have the fabulous Fran give our entrepreneurs tips on how we can incorporate the magic of being funny into our businesses.
Fran Capo’s 10 Tips on How to Use Humor Effectively in Your Presentations
My 20-year career as a stand-up comedienne has taught me firsthand how to succeed with any kind of audience. When I moved into professional speaking, I quickly discovered the great advantage of professional speaking over comedy. In speaking you don’t have to be funny! But if you are, you are considered a sensation. Knowledge and humor is a powerful mixture, and in speaking it’s a win-win situation.
Unlike for comediennes, there is very little risk to a speaker who bombs with a joke. If you “bomb” as a comedienne, you risk never getting booked again. If your humor fails as a professional speaker, simply continue with the presentation.
No one, however, likes to hear a round of silence instead of one of laughter. In my book, “Humor in Business Speaking and Everyday Life,” I talk about tips for adding humor into everything you do. Here are some tried-and-true methods to give your humor the best chance to succeed on the platform.
1. You don’t have to be a comedienne to be funny. Anyone can tell a joke. Find your comic persona. What type of humor are you most comfortable with? Some speakers are better at one-liners, some at observational humor, others excel at storytelling. Timing is essential. The closer you stick to your natural timing, the more success you will have.
2. Know your audience. Ask yourself: Are they blue collar or white collar? Liberal or
conservative? What do they have in common? Are there regional sensibilities? The nature of your audience determines the type of humor. A colleague of mine once jokingly yelled out, “Last call at the bar!” only to discover most of his audience were members of Alcoholics Anonymous!
3. Localize and personalize your materials. Audiences love to be included as part of the show. Tailor your humorous anecdotes to make them fit your audience. Make it seem as if it just happened. They will think you are incredibly talented. Mark Twain said, “The best improvisation is rehearsed for 48 hours.” It is better to say, “On my way here from Newark Airport” than, “A month ago when I was in Dallas.” Personalize humor from a joke book or speaker’s file. The audience wants to relate to you, and you want to relate to them.
4 Be prepared. Always have some “what-IF” lines ready. For instance, what would you do IF the mike malfunctions? IF the lights go out? IF a fire alarm sounds? IF someone yells out an insult? IF, IF, IF. Have stock joke answers that you will use in these situations.
5. There are many ways to speak funny without being a comic. Make enlargements of relevant funny cartoons. Use props. Use jokes you have read. Have silly pledges or awards. You are only limited by your imagination. (Note: Don’t steal a comic’s act — we get rather annoyed when that happens because being funny keeps our kids fed.
6. Keep your audience interested. Humor does that. It keeps the audience wanting to hear more. Your job is to impart information, and humor keeps an audience tuned into your message. The more attentive they are, the more they will retain. The more they retain, the more you succeed as a speaker.
7. Space out the humor. The beginning, middle, and end of a speech are the strategic places for a joke. You want to start with a laugh to warm them up, throw some humor in the middle to keep them interested, and end with a laugh so they will have a nice, warm feeling.
8. Practice, practice. practice. Tell your jokes to unsuspecting friends. Just like with your speech, practice your jokes and delivery. Don’t tell someone you are going to tell them a joke, just work it into a conversation and watch their reaction, that’s the best way to gauge if it will work. If they laugh, you know you have a winner on your hands and you’ve mastered the joke.
9. Do not telegraph the end of the joke. Surprise them. Suspense is the key in any good joke. If someone feels they know the punch line, the joke is a letdown. The listener should be waiting to find out what the punch line is.
10. Be yourself, and have a good time. If the audience sees you are really enjoying being on stage, your enthusiasm will be contagious. If you are having a good time, then your audience will, too.
And here’s one for the road: Always leave them laughing!
About Fran Capo
Fran is a comedienne, keynote motivational speaker, 16-time author, personal coach, TV-show host, spokesperson, adventurer, and five-time world record holder, most known as the “Guinness Book of World Records” fastest talking female.
She has appeared on more than 350 television and 4,500 radio shows worldwide including: “Entertainment Tonight,” “Fox & Friends,” “The Late Show,” “Martha Stewart,” “Larry King Live,” and the “Discovery Channel.” Her “Cuppa Capo’s,” which are humorous motivational vlogs are sent out daily and she has a monthly newsletter called, “Capo Update.”
She is high energy, down to earth, and has spoken to Fortune 500 companies on every continent with her “Dare to do it,” “Creativity in Marketing,” and “Humor in the Workplace” talks.
To learn more about Fran and her books or just to sign up for her newsletter, check out www.francapo.com. Follow her on twitter.com/francapo and facebook.com/francapo. Feel free to email her with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.