It’s not just Michael McIntyre!

It’s not just Michael McIntyre!

Perhaps I’ve been watching too much Saturday night TV, but recently I have come to the conclusion that there are a lot of things that trainers can learn from stand- up comedians. As a result, here are six pieces of advice that I think Michael McIntyre would give to trainers who want to be successful.

Know your Audience!  The most successful comics tailor their material to the audience. They will add some local references and avoid jokes that may put that audience off or make them ill at ease. The same can be said of successful trainers who consider their audience before developing content and resources.

Use Stories and Everyday Observations to Make Your Point!  Some of the funniest humour comes from a shared experience. Comedians will often use reference points to things the audience can easily connect with. With the context in place, they can focus more on the joke, as the audience is already part of the way with them. Similarly, if a trainer uses a common reference point as a trigger for content, they will have a greater chance of creating the connectedness required for learning to stick!

Make the Rehearsed seem Spontaneous!  At the end of a long tour, the comedians that can hold the same energy and freshness as the opening night are the ones that ultimately enjoy long and successful careers. The performance needs to be tight, but the audience still need to feel that they are getting a unique experience. The same can be said for trainers, particularly when they deliver the same workshops regularly. The lesson here is to continue to keep it fresh and engaging for every group, regardless of how often it has been delivered!

Handle the Hecklers Well!  Good stand-ups will have some redirection techniques in their bag of tricks, to deal with hecklers. Whilst the same routines may not work in a training room, the methodology is the same. For example, if a participant constantly interrupts the trainer or others whilst they are talking, the trainer needs to be able to redirect the behaviour into more productive directions. Additionally, difficult situations can be often be diffused with a little humour.

Don’t take Yourself too Seriously!  Comedians will often be the source of their own humour. This grounds them and gives them an everyday, “guy down the street” quality that enables them to build rapport with their audience From the trainer’s perspective it’s also important to build a sense of authenticity, that you are a real person, who has flaws, but has learnt from these and has important experiences to share.

Don’t be Afraid of Failure!. Almost all comedians experience failure in their career. What defines the successful ones, is the ability to refocus, rebuild and keep trying. Similarly, as trainers, we can have bad days. We can all experience difficult groups, behaviours or situations, but like stand-up comedians the true test of our metal is in the getting up, the trying again and searching for the learning in each experience.