When preparing a talk, don’t forget to build in the laugh track. You’re probably wondering if I mean that literally. The answer is yes and no.
What I mean is that audiences need guidance, and they need it to be spoon fed to them. Guidance, cues, prompts, reminders, directions, suggestions – all of it helps an audience to stay with you and to know what’s coming and what’s expected of them. Audiences don’t like to work hard, think hard, guess, or wonder. It’s your job as the speaker/presenter to build in the cues and the prompts and as much guidance as possible.
Some examples: If you’re digressing to tell a story, call it out and say, “I’m digressing for a moment to tell a story.” If you’re slowing down to ensure that everyone follows a complex idea you need to share, say so. If the whole reason for addressing a group is to reassure them, then tell them, “The whole point of my talk today is to reassure you.” If you’re moving between sections of a longer presentation, then, by all means, announce the transitions.
For followers of SmartMouth Talks, yes, this is the same idea behind using a Focal Point at the beginning of a talk and reinforcing it at the end – if there is something you want an audience to think or know or do or feel, you need to tell them.
That’s why sitcoms use laugh tracks, they leave nothing to chance; when they want you to laugh, they prompt you with the sound of laughter. And guess what? When we hear the laughter, we laugh. Works like a charm. The power of suggestion. Fascinating. Use it.
SmartMouth Founder and Principal Beth Noymer Levine is a Communications Coach who is emerging as one of the country’s leading voices on how to prepare and deliver speeches and presentations that actually work for both the audience and the speaker.
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